IGU Thematic Conference Mexico - Urban Transformations: Towards Resilient Cities

Published 23 March, 2023

18–25 August, 2023

Website: https://igumexico2023.org/

Resilience, recently adapted for cities by the UN-Habitat New Urban Agenda (2016) is an old concept that defines “the persistence of systems and of their ability to absorb change and disturbance and still maintain the same relationships between populations or state variables” (Holling, 1973: 14). Initially seen as an alternative to a wasteful lifestyle, it has come to represent the optimistic belief that cities can survive risks and be seen not just as the "problem" of global warming but also as its "solution".

Sustainability has been a source of legitimate fascination for urban studies due to diverse academic approaches. The United Nations Environmental Programme has been stimulating this issue since the 1970s, and in 1977 the Declaration for Habitat I in Vancouver gave it a strong outlining. The main concern of the organization has been rapid and sprawling urban growth, which threatens the natural, economic and social life of cities and threatens their sustainability.

In Mexico, there are close to 30 towns and locations with heritage status, as well as many that have a combination of cultural and natural history. This has produced public policies which facilitate the management of these historic districts. Local and Urban Governance has been an essential area of discussion for geographers since the 1980s and this is reflected in the launch of its first Study Group in 1984 by the IGU, which was subsequently promoted to becoming a Commission in 1988. Its main concern was understanding connections between spatial processes and territorial institutions.

Since cities have been largely threatened in different Braudelian historical times, this meeting will compare experiences in a global context, examining the particular and common characteristics of cities, the economic, social and environmental difficulties they present, and assessing the effectiveness of public and communal responses to these issues.

Questions to be answered include whether local and urban administration processes can help make sense of past and current urban states and developments; if local/urban governance can be a catalyst for public policy alterations towards sustainable urban growth; if resilient cities can be an answer to global risks; as well as how this can be reinforced within our six commissions at the 2023 meeting.

With a view from both developed and developing contexts, the meeting of six IGU Commissions in Mexico will offer an excellent opportunity to discuss two main streams of knowledge—resilience and governance—in contemporary cities and other human settlements. It aims to bring together distinct geographical specialties in urban and local governance, history, demography, urban studies, and ecology to stimulate new research on cities.


  • C20.15: Commission on Geography of Governance  
  • C20.17: Commission on Geography of Tourism, Leisure, and Global Change
  • C20.18: Commission on GeoHeritage
  • C20.30: Commission on Latin American and Caribbean Studies
  • C20.37: Commission on Population Geography
  • C20.42 Urban Commission: Re-Thinking cities and the urban: from the global to the local

Local Organizers

Manuel Suárez holds a degree in Political Science and Public Administration from the Facultad de Estudios Superiores Acatlán. He holds a Master’s degree in Urban Planning from the University of California, Berkeley. He also holds a PhD in Geography from UNAM. He held the post of director of the Institute of Geography from 2016 to 2020. He was re-elected as director for a second period (2021-2024). His work as a researcher has focused on urban structure and transport, which has led him to collaborate in various projects with academia and several government agencies. He is a tutor in the postgraduate course in Urban Planning, as well as a tutor and professor in the postgraduate course in Geography at the University.

Javier Delgado holds a degree in Architecture from the Faculty of Architecture of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). He holds a Master’s degree in Research and Teaching in Urban Planning and a PhD in Urban Planning, both from the Faculty of Architecture at UNAM. He did a research stay from January to June 1993 at the Groupe de Recherche sur l’Amerique Latine at the University of Toulouse-Le Mirail, France, under the direction of Claude Bataillon. His main lines of research are: Urban and Regional Structure, National Urban System and Urban-Regional Interface. He is currently the director of the University Program of City Studies at UNAM.


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