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Building urban resilience and knowledge co-production in the face of weather hazards:flashfloods in the Monterrey Metropolitan Area (Mexico)


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In 2010,flashfloods triggered by Hurricane Alex causedfifteen fatalities in the Monterrey Metropolitan Area(MMA). In contrast, an estimated 225 people died in the 1988 Hurricane Gilbert disaster and reputedly, over5,000 in the historicalflood of 1909. The magnitude of hurricane-related impacts thus appears to be decreasing,indicating higher resilience to this hazard. This paper analyses the process of building resilience toflashfloods inthe MMA over the last several decades. Knowledge co-production plays a significant role in that process, par-ticularly through the Nuevo Leon State Reconstruction Council, the multi-institutional, public-private-civil groupof stakeholders established to guide and coordinate reconstruction efforts following the Hurricane Alex disaster.Findings reveal a complex, protracted and incremental resilience building process, conditioned by the nature ofthe hazard (infrequent but liable to cause significant damages) and contingent upon the city’s socioeconomic andinstitutional local context. This local context is embedded in a highly fragmented national water governancearchitecture that lacks inter-institutional co-ordination and has limited the city’s adaptive responses. Despitedefinite gains in building resilience, the city faces challenges notably in terms of the conservation and continuingdevelopment of knowledge co-produced in the aftermath of disasters
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Environmental Science and Policy
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Building urban resilience and knowledge co-production in the face of
weather hazards: ash oods in the Monterrey Metropolitan Area (Mexico)
Ismael Aguilar-Barajas
, Nicholas P. Sisto
, Aldo I. Ramirez
, Víctor Magaña-Rueda
Departamento de Economia and Centro del Agua para America Latina y el Caribe, Tecnologico de Monterrey, Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico
CISE (Centro de Investigaciones Socioeconómicas), Universidad Autonoma de Coahuila, Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico
Departamento de Tecnologias Sostenibles y Civil and Centro del Agua para América Latina y el Caribe, Tecnologico de Monterrey, Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico
Instituto de Geograa, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico
urban resilience
knowledge co-production
In 2010, ash oods triggered by Hurricane Alex caused fteen fatalities in the Monterrey Metropolitan Area
(MMA). In contrast, an estimated 225 people died in the 1988 Hurricane Gilbert disaster and reputedly, over
5,000 in the historical ood of 1909. The magnitude of hurricane-related impacts thus appears to be decreasing,
indicating higher resilience to this hazard. This paper analyses the process of building resilience to ash oods in
the MMA over the last several decades. Knowledge co-production plays a signicant role in that process, par-
ticularly through the Nuevo Leon State Reconstruction Council, the multi-institutional, public-private-civil group
of stakeholders established to guide and coordinate reconstruction eorts following the Hurricane Alex disaster.
Findings reveal a complex, protracted and incremental resilience building process, conditioned by the nature of
the hazard (infrequent but liable to cause signicant damages) and contingent upon the citys socioeconomic and
institutional local context. This local context is embedded in a highly fragmented national water governance
architecture that lacks inter-institutional co-ordination and has limited the citys adaptive responses. Despite
denite gains in building resilience, the city faces challenges notably in terms of the conservation and continuing
development of knowledge co-produced in the aftermath of disasters.
1. Introduction
Urban population growth - 6.5 billion people will live in urban areas
by 2050 (UN, 2014) - and concomitant social, economic, environmental
and political pressures, pose major challenges for the management of
increasingly larger and more complex urban systems (Editorial note,
Environ. Sci. Policy, 2016). A key challenge is to foster resilience, de-
ned (at a minimum) as the ability of an urban system to maintain or
rapidly return to desired functions in the face of a disturbance. Cities
face a variety of hazards of consequence within and beyond their own
boundaries, for example oods that damage their infrastructure but also
aect the wider economy (Pant et al., 2018). This is in part why
building urban resilience is arguably of vital necessity (Shariand
Yamagata, 2014).
Urban resilience as a concept is amenable to dierent disciplinary
perspectives and may be applied to a variety of distinct hazards or
groups of hazards (Meerow et al., 2016). Building resilience, however,
ultimately requires designing and implementing solutions on the basis
of available knowledge. This introduces a close connection between
urban resilience and knowledge co-production (in brief, the process by
which multifaceted knowledge for tackling complex problems is colla-
boratively constructed by stakeholders). Knowledge co-production
likewise is not a simple concept and is open to dierent interpretations
and normative prescriptions (Muñoz-Erickson et al. 2017).
The link between knowledge co-production and urban resilience has
not been fully appreciated in the resilience literature, or the actual
practice of building resilience. This paper proposes to shed some light
on the varied ways this link is key to building urban resilience. To this
end, the paper oers an in-depth analysis of an actual case of building
urban resilience and knowledge co-production in the face of hurricane
induced ooding, a hazard that triggers a specic type of disaster: in-
frequent (once in a generation), rapid onset, impossible to forecast at
more than a few daysnotice, and liable to cause signicant damage to
life, property and infrastructure. Specically, the paper analyzes how
the Monterrey Metropolitan Area (MMA) - Mexicos third most popu-
lous urban area - has built up resilience to ash oods over time,
through a thick and detailed description of the dierent historical,
political and economic dimensions of resilience building and
Received 19 August 2018; Received in revised form 19 May 2019; Accepted 23 May 2019
Corresponding author.
E-mail address: (I. Aguilar-Barajas).
Environmental Science and Policy 99 (2019) 37–47
Available online 29 May 2019
1462-9011/ © 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license
knowledge co-production in that city over the past several decades. The
evidence reveals a complex resilience building process: protracted, in-
cremental, contingent on the citys internal context as well the external
context in which the city is embedded, and conditioned by the nature of
the hazard and stakeholders perception of the risk it poses. Moreover,
knowledge co-production shows its own complexities. In particular,
there is no guarantee that knowledge co-produced can be sustained, as
it depends crucially on local social capital as well as the wider national
governance architecture.
From this case study, three key messages emerge. First, for me-
tropolises like Monterrey that contribute signicantly to their national
economy, increasing their urban resilience to oods clearly is a matter
of national interest. Second, the case of the MMA illustrates that in-
creasing urban resilience is an achievable goal; moreover, the process is
comprehensible although its complex nature precludes simple ex-
planations (and hence, easy replication elsewhere). Third, beyond the
ve basic questions of resilience for whom, what, when, where and why
(Meerow et al., 2016) lie three major ones, which are often not dealt
with in the literature or in practice: how, at what cost and who nances.
How is resilience achieved? For example, what is the appropriate
combination of hard infrastructure (e.g. ood control dams) and soft
infrastructure (e.g. land use regulations)? How do we make sure
knowledge co-produced in a resilience building process is sustained
over time? How do we equip stakeholders with a proper understanding
of risk, so that they come to perceive both the costs (ood damages) and
benets (water supply) of hurricanes? Finally, how much should be
spent on resilience and who pays? Answers to the last question must
involve all levels of government and society, including the private
The rest of the paper is organized as follows. Section 2describes the
study area and the ood hazard it faces. Section 3presents the con-
ceptual framework and the methodologies employed. Section 4and
Section 5respectively address urban resilience up to and following the
most recent 2010 ash ood disaster. Section 6contains conclusions,
with the major lessons learned and the way forward.
2. The city, the region and the hazard
2.1. The city and the San Juan River Basin
The Monterrey Metropolitan Area (MMA) congregates 12 munici-
palities including Monterrey, the capital of the state of Nuevo León.
Located in the San Juan River basin (a sub-basin of the Rio Bravo/Río
Grande which straddles the border with the United States), the MMA
draws half of its water supply from three downstream reservoirs: El
Cuchillo, Cerro Prieto and La Boca (Fig. 1). Mexico has exclusive rights
over the San Juan River Basin waters according to the 1944 Interna-
tional Water Treaty with its northern neighbor. The metropolis of 4.5
million people is a major national economic hub and the birthplace of
several of Mexicos largest industrial and nancial companies. The
MMAs water services authority, Servicios de Agua y Drenaje de Mon-
terrey (SADM) is a pioneering organization: it is one of the few in the
developing world that provides drinking-quality tap water twenty-four
hours a day, seven days a week, and treats 100% of its wastewater
(Aguilar-Barajas et al. 2015). Water governance in Mexico, however, is
fragmented and limited by signicant inter-institutional coordination
problems (Aguilar-Barajas et al., 2016;Torregrosa et al., 2015;OECD,
2.2. The hazard: moderate recurrent ooding, disastrous but infrequent
ash oods
The MMA receives only 600 mm of rain per year on average and
local creeks and rivers usually run dry or carry only minimal ows.
Nonetheless, every 3 or 4 years intense rain showers of 100 mm or more
within a 24 -h period (sometimes associated with named tropical
storms, e.g. Ingrid in 2013) do occur (Fig. 2). These downpours in-
variably overwhelm the citys storm drainage system and cause loca-
lized, short duration problems particularly to transit.
The MMAs distance from the nearest coast (about 200 km) protects
it from the direct onslaught of hurricanes, but its location at the foot of
the Sierra Madre Oriental range exposes it to a signicant ash ood
hazard. Powerful hurricane remnants from the Gulf of Mexico occa-
sionally reach the region and discharge large amounts of precipitation
within a short period of time over critical catchment areas in the
mountains high above the city. Three to four times per century, these
events result in sudden and profuse surface ows notably in the Santa
Catarina River (Fig. 2), the MMAs principal watercourse which crosses
the whole urban area west to east.
2.3. Major ooding events: a brief historical summary
Monterrey has a long history of ood-related disasters since its
foundation over 400 years ago. The great ood of 1909 remains the
worst catastrophe in the citys history: the Santa Catarina River burst its
banks and an estimated 5,000 people lost their lives (Graham, 1911). In
1938, oods curtailed transit across large swathes of the city (El Por-
venir, 29 August 1938). Hurricane Beulah in 1967 caused ooding but
relatively minor damages. With Hurricane Gilbert in 1988, the Santa
Catarina River again broke its banks and attained its highest-ever re-
corded ow (CONAGUA, 2018). An estimated 225 lives were lost and
the ood caused severe damages to bridges, roads and other infra-
structure, disrupting transit not just locally but regionally (Bitrán,
2001;OECD, 2013b,Benavides and Lozano, 2013). Structures built on
the rivers margins (mostly private homes) and on the river bed itself
(recreational and commercial outts) were swept away, revealing loose
land use regulations and enforcement (Chávez Gutiérrez, 1995;Salazar,
2008;de León Gómez, 2009).
Hurricane Alex in 2010, one of the strongest storms to ever impact
Nuevo León and the MMA, generated torrential rains in the city. The
river reached its second highest recorded ow (CONAGUA, 2018)-
Fig. 3 provides a view of the Santa Catarina River on the day of the
event. Damages - although not as severe as the previous Gilbert disaster
- signicantly aected the MMA (Sisto and Ramírez-Orozco, 2015) and
resonated widely in Mexico given the citys weight in the national
economy (OECD, 2013b). 15 people lost their lives, more than 12
thousand were rescued or evacuated and over 68 thousand households
required emergency help (food, water, cleaning supplies and materials).
Around 148 thousand homes were left without power and close to 400
thousand homes (about 1.7 million residents, i.e. 37% of total MMA
population) lost access to water services (SADM, 2010a;SADM, 2010b).
The event caused extensive and severe damages to public infra-
structure: 7.8 million square meters of pavement washed away, 154
culverts obliterated, 100 bridges damaged or ruined, 54 km of piped
water lines and 45 km of sewerage lines wiped out, 1,502 schools and
211 health clinics aected at various levels (CERNL, 2013). Of en-
ormous relevance for large sectors of the population were the transit
restrictions, trac congestion and extended daily commutes that per-
sisted for several months; reduced mobility impacted more than 3,700
rms (OECD, 2013b). No consensus on the monetary value of damages
has been reached: estimates vary between 1.35 and slightly over 2
billion dollars (OECD, 2013b). A signicant portion of damages to
private property occurred on land ocially classied as unt for urban
development, notably on the margins of rivers and creeks (Leal Diaz,
2012;CERNL, 2013;Barragan, 2013). In the sparsely populated upper
reaches of the Santa Catarina river basin, signicant erosion and some
landslides (in part due to deforestation) resulted in a great accumula-
tion of sediments downstream in the city and beyond.
3. Conceptual framework
Building urban resilience to a hazard implies a complex process,
I. Aguilar-Barajas, et al. Environmental Science and Policy 99 (2019) 37–47
conditioned by stakeholdersperception of the risk involved and cru-
cially dependent on their capacity to co-produce and sustain the
knowledge required for the design and implementation of solutions.
3.1. Urban resilience
Urban resilience as a concept is amenable to dierent disciplinary
perspectives to address a diversity of distinct hazards aecting complex
urban systems (Meerow et al., 2016). In its simplest form, urban resi-
lience refers to the ability of an urban system to maintain or rapidly
return to desired functions in the face of a disturbance. This involves
short-term coping as well as long-term adaptation (Shariand
Yamagata, 2014).
Urban resilience encompasses numerous and interrelated social,
economic, institutional and political dimensions: “…enacting urban
resilience is inevitably a contested process in which diverse stake-
holders are involved and their motivation, power-dynamics, and trade-
os play out across spatial and temporal scales(Meerow et al., 2016).
From that standpoint, softsocio-political infrastructure may be as
relevant as hardphysical infrastructure (Eakin et al. 2017).
Fig. 1. Monterrey Metropolitan Area and San Juan River Basin (Northeast Mexico).
Fig. 2. Peak ow (Santa Catarina River) and
maximum precipitation within 24 hours
(MMA), 1947-2016.
Source: Authors, with observational data from
CONAGUA (2018). Precipitation data was ob-
tained from the Monterrey Rain Gauge. Max-
imum discharge data for 1947-1988 is from the
(now defunct) Monterrey Gauging Station; for
1989-2016, from the Cadereyta Gauging Sta-
I. Aguilar-Barajas, et al. Environmental Science and Policy 99 (2019) 37–47
Urban resilience viewed as a dynamic, socio-ecological process,
does not necessarily require a system to return to its initial equilibrium
state following a disturbance (Frommer, 2013;Barata-Salgueiro and
Erkip, 2014). The ability to bounce back to a desirable state requires the
timely recovery of basic structures and crucial functions (Meerow et al.,
2016). This depends on communitiesaccess to resources and their
organizational capacities prior to and during the occurrence of a dis-
turbance (UNISDR, 2015;UNISDR, 2017;Hallegatte et al., 2018). The
emergence of innovative measures also plays a role (Miller et al., 2018).
The dynamic nature of urban resilience implies that policy responses
often derive from an interrelated set of decisions, in a decision cycle
where factors that shape initial decisions aect further decisions (Wise
et al., 2014).
Urban resilience analysis and policy design require a comprehensive
understanding of cities as complex adaptive spatial systems (Bourne
and Simmons, 1978;Friedman, 2002;Ernstson et al., 2010). Depending
on their conguration, urban systems will show distinct capacities for
coping in the short term and adapting and improving in the long term.
For instance, integrated ood management must link water and land
use planning (WMO, 2009). Addressing the two as separate or rival
issues will lead to inappropriate urban development (infrastructure and
human settlements on land at risk of ooding) and thus increase ex-
posure to risk. This issue is of particular signicance in metropolitan
areas where multiple jurisdictions often overlap.
3.2. Adaptive risk management
Urban resilience is directly related to stakeholders´ perception of
risk and their behavior in the face of risk. There is a growing recogni-
tion that adaptive management must address risk explicitly and ap-
propriately (WMO, 2009;UNESCO, 2012;UN, 2013;OECD, 2013a)to
inform decision-making based on an understanding of the environment
in which risks and opportunities emerge (World Bank, 2013). The
World Economic Forum places extreme weather events, natural dis-
asters and failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation in the
top 5 of the Global Risks Landscape (WEF, 2019). The Forum also
highlights the interconnectedness between these risks and their im-
pacts, for example the risk of a water crisis and consequent disruptions
to critical infrastructure and basic services.
Land reserved for ood risk management is an emerging topic for
urban resilience. In 2018, the Journal of Flood Risk Management (Vol.
11) published a special issue on this (
1111/jfr3.12344) and the rst issue of the International Water
Resources Association´s Policy Brief series focusses on this theme
(Hartman and Stavikova, 2018). This Brief proposes that a compre-
hensive basin-wide approach is necessary in order to integrate three
scales of ood storage strategies: in the catchment; upstream of cities;
and, in the cities themselves. Since in all three cases aected land is
often privately owned, ood risk management should be closely linked
to land management, paying special attention to the issue of jurisdic-
Adaptive risk management requires inclusive consultation and
communication with stakeholders. The public needs to be better in-
formed but also more educated about the implications of risk-based
policy scenarios (Aguilar-Barajas et al., 2015). It is not uncommon for
people to ignore or be unaware of the risks they face; the combination
of inadequate knowledge and unfortunate choices leads to the occur-
rence of disasters (Miller et al., 2018). From a psychological perspec-
tive, the likelihood of future hurricanes tends to be underestimated, the
experience of past ones may be forgotten, but the impacts of an im-
minent hurricane tend to be overestimated (Shaw, 2005). People need
to become “…more aware, less comfortable, and hence more reective
about how we intervene, in word or deed, in the changing order of
things(Jasano, 2010). There is thus a direct connection between
urban resilience, risk and knowledge.
3.3. Knowledge co-production
The design of eective resilience policies that take risk into account
require multifaceted knowledge collaboratively constructed by stake-
holders (Hallegatte et al., 2018). This is referred to as knowledge co-
production and is essentially the result of a social process: “…knowl-
edge making and decision making are social activities that take place
within social contexts, institutions, communities…” (Miller et al. 2010).
Consequently, knowledge co-production for urban resilience is open to
dierent interpretations and normative prescriptions (Muñoz-Erickson
et al. 2017).
In principle, there is a benecial role for collaboration between the
scientic community, government and civil society in the co-identi-
cation of problems, the production of knowledge and its application
(Sarewitz and Pielke, 2007;Muñoz-Erickson et al. 2017). Co-production
of knowledge however is a costly activity and does not occur sponta-
neously (Jasano, 2010). There are several competing models of
knowledge-making and governance but trusting relationships need to
Fig. 3. Santa Catarina River during Hurricane Alex (July 1
, 2010).
Source: ( Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.
I. Aguilar-Barajas, et al. Environmental Science and Policy 99 (2019) 37–47
be constructed and fostered (Frantzeskaki and Kabisch, 2016). The in-
terrelated issues of legitimacy-credibility are also linked to both science
and policy making (Miller et al. 2010).
In the wake of a disaster, reconstruction oers multiple and rich
opportunities to deploy more resilient alternatives and new models of
institutional design (Miller et al. 2018). Reconstruction should focus on
future resilience and be inclusive, but it cannot substitute for sound
prevention and preparedness measures - institutional, technical and
nancial capacities are crucial in this regard (Hallegatte et al., 2018).
Knowledge for prevention is key for urban resilience policy.
4. Building urban resilience in the MMA: from Hurricane Gilbert
(1988) to Hurricane Alex (2010)
Building resilience to oods has taken place in Monterrey since its
beginnings, including the wholesale relocation of the original settle-
ment hundreds of years ago. For reasons of space and availability of
evidence, our analysis focusses on the post-Gilbert period. In the
aftermath of that disaster, a notable process of resilience building began
at both the local and national levels. State and local authorities un-
dertook the construction of major preventive engineering works: a
regulating dam upstream from the city (the Rompe Picos Dam) to
dampen peak ows in the Santa Catarina River and within the city, an
improved network of storm drains. At the national level and in the
countrywide context of extreme weather hazards (in particular, tropical
storms), federal authorities developed an early-warning system.
4.1. The Rompe Picos Dam (2002-2004)
The Rompe Picos Dam, located 22 kilometers upstream of the MMA
in the Sierra Madre Oriental mountain range (Fig. 4) was built to reg-
ulate ows in the Santa Catarina River. The dam (which presents a
number of advanced technical features) was designed for a return
period of 10,000 years (i.e. the probability of an event surpassing the
dams capacity is only 0.01% per year); it controls about two-thirds of
overall ows in the rivers upper catchment area (Ramírez, 2011).
The Nuevo León State Government under Governor Sócrates Rizzo
rst proposed the project in 1994 six years after the Gilbert disaster.
Construction only began in 2002 at the end of the Fernando Canales/
beginning of the Fernando Elizondo administrations, and concluded in
2004 at the beginning of the Natividad González administration. It took
therefore 16 years and four distinct state governors for the project to
materialize after the 1988 disaster (Flores Longoria and Maldonado,
2009;Aguilar-Barajas et al., 2015).
Since its inauguration the dam has proved eective on several oc-
casions. The rst test came in 2005 with Hurricane Emily: despite co-
pious precipitations of 250 mm, peak ow in the river did not surpass
600 m
/s (Fig. 2) and impacts in the city were modest (Salas and
Jimenez, 2014). Neither of the following two named storms (Dean in
2007 and Dolly in 2008) produced any signicant peak ows or da-
mages. With Hurricane Alex in 2010 the Rompe Picos dam fullled its
original purpose: it reduced the peak ow by at least 750 m
/s and
prevented ooding in downtown Monterrey and immediate surround-
ings (Ramírez, 2011; Benavides y Lozano, 2013). Without the dam,
peak ow in the Santa Catarina River probably would have equaled or
even exceeded the 4,400 m
/s registered during the Gilbert event 22
years earlier (Ramírez, 2011;Leal Diaz, 2012). Fig. 5 presents an aerial
view of the dam (facing downstream), the day after the Alex event.
4.2. The Storm Drains Project (2002-2009)
Insucient and decient infrastructure to collect and evacuate
runofrom even moderate storms had frequently created transit havoc
in many parts of the MMA (Barragan, 2008;Flores Longoria and
Fig. 4. Geographical location of the Rompe Picos Regulating Dam.
Source: Authors´.
I. Aguilar-Barajas, et al. Environmental Science and Policy 99 (2019) 37–47
Maldonado, 2009;Leal Diaz 2012). Towards the end of the 1990s, the
abundant and critical reporting on the issue (the inuential local
newspaper El Norte played a signicant role in this) reected a wide-
spread grievance among Monterreys residents (Canales Clariond, 2011;
Leal Diaz, 2012). This set the stage for a solution involving several state
actors: the Storm Drains Project.
The Project initiated in the context of a very restrictive legal, -
nancial and political environment (Canales Clariond, 2011;Aguilar-
Barajas et al., 2015). The responsibility for storm runomanagement at
the time rested with the State government (Secretariat of Urban De-
velopment and Public Works) and the metropolitan municipalities, but
none of these entities had the technical know-how or nancial re-
sources to solve the issue. The state (and metropolitan) water and
sewerage authority (Servicios de Agua y Drenaje de Monterrey, SADM)
however did possess the required resources. In 2000 the state congress
changed SADMs statutes to allow it to take on the Project and use its
own revenues to nance the enterprise.
In 2002, SADM personnel had identied 420 points across the city
at risk of ooding from runo(SADM, 2019). Between 2002 and 2009
about 200kms of main and secondary drain collectors were laid (Fig. 6),
reducing by 90-93% the risk of ooding in the citys most exposed lo-
cations (SADM, 2019; Benavides y Lozano, 2013). The equivalent of
USD250 million was spent in the process, 80% from SADMs internal
funds and the rest paid for by the federal government. Around 1.2
million people directly or indirectly beneted from the storm drainage
project (Flores Longoria and Maldonado, 2009).
In 2007, a new state congress reversed the previous administrations
initiative and devolved responsibility for storm runomanagement to
the state government and metropolitan municipalities. The decision
eectively left the MMA without an integral program to handle storm
water and signaled a major step backward in the matter (Barragan,
2013). Such a reversal illustrates clearly the diculties in building
resilience (Aguilar-Barajas et al. 2015) and the non-linearity of the
public decision-making process (also identied in the case of Mexico
City, see Tellman et al., 2018).
4.3. The national early warning system (1999-2000)
At the time of the Hurricane Gilbert disaster, early warning
capabilities were incipient in Mexico. At 22:40 on September 16 1987
the rst ocial bulletin about the storm was emitted; at three oclock in
the morning of the following day, State Governor Treviño got a call to
inform him the storm had reached the city (Benavides y Lozano, 2013).
Clearly, there was no opportunity to prepare for the contingency.
Between 1999 and 2000 the federal governments National Agency
for Civil Protection, with the collaboration of various universities and
research institutions, developed and implemented Mexicosrst in-
tegrated system to deal with meteorological hazards: the Tropical
Cyclone Early Warning System (TC-EWS). The TC-EWS was designed to
monitor the position and intensity of hurricanes as well as coordinate
emergency procedures at the federal, state and municipal level. The
basic goals of the system were to have people move out of the path of
dangerous storms in advance (a day or two) from vulnerable locations
to safer ones, as well as to put in place emergency supplies and mate-
rials where potentially needed. In this way, recovery after the impact of
a tropical cyclone would be simpler and shorter, improving the resi-
lience of communities. Following the implementation of the TC-EWS
nationwide, the number of fatalities associated with tropical cyclones in
Mexico diminished dramatically, by one or two orders of magnitude
(Magaña et al., 2014)
In 2010 several days before the Alex event ample and continuously
updated information about the storm was being made available.
Between 18:00 on June 25 and 23:00 on July 1, 53 notices on the Alex
Hurricane and 13 warnings for likely aected locations were emitted
(CERNL, 2013). This time the city was not taken by surprise and pre-
ventive civil protection measures, including evacuation of residents in
exposed locations and emergency transit restrictions, were put in place
in a timely fashion. The relatively low count of fatalities from Hurricane
Alex certainly can be attributed to this.
The TC-EWS obviously did not emerge in direct response to the
Hurricane Gilbert disaster. Disasters of that nature had been a nation-
wide concern well before then, and continue to be for example, more
than 100 people died when Hurricane Manuel hit the countrys Pacic
coast in 2013. In this case the MMA has gained resilience not through
its own volition but rather as a consequence of this external context.
Due to a number of modications intended to make it more e-
cient, in recent years the TC-EWS arguably has lost some eectiveness
(Magaña et al. 2014). The National Center for Disaster Prevention
Fig. 5. The Rompe Picos Dam one day after Hurricane Alex (2 July, 2010).
Source: Courtesy from the National Water Commission.
I. Aguilar-Barajas, et al. Environmental Science and Policy 99 (2019) 37–47
(CENAPRED) is developing a new, more sophisticated version of the
system. The main feature of that new version will be a focus on risk and
not solely the characteristics of the hazard.
4.4. Water governance before Hurricane Alex
Prior to the Alex disaster, water governance in Mexico and the MMA
did not evolve signicantly: it remained fragmented between the three
levels of government (federal, state and municipal) and dysfunctional
due to the lack of coordination between these actors (Aguilar-Barajas
et al., 2016). Meanwhile urban development proceeded with little to no
regard for the regions hydrological reality. In particular, this had led to
the obstruction or alteration of natural channels and the occupation of
land exposed to ooding despite federal regulations prohibiting its use
(Leal Diaz, 2012). Fig. 7 reveals, for example, how in one section of the
Santa Catarina River, the width of the channel had been dramatically
reduced from 275 m to 165 m by residential development and recrea-
tional and commercial activities. This aerial view was captured on May
13, 2009, slightly over a year before Hurricane Alex. It is noteworthy to
consider that ocial state-level development plans at the time
(Gobierno Constitucional del Estado de Nuevo León, 2010a) did not
refer to the concept of risk management in the face of weather hazards.
Moreover, the draft of the statesrst Risk Atlas (Gobierno
Constitucional del Estado de Nuevo León, 2010b) was still under review
months after the Alex event.
5. Knowledge co-production and urban resilience in the aftermath
of Hurricane Alex
With Hurricane Alex, the MMA to an extent demonstrated an in-
creased resilience to oods, in the wake of the resilience building
process undertaken after the 1988 Gilbert disaster. The regulating dam
upstream from the city, the expanded network of storm drains within
the city and enhanced early warning capacities and civil protection
protocols, all worked to signicantly limit the impacts of the 2010
storm (Flores Longoria and Maldonado, 2009;SADM, 2010b;Leal Diaz,
2012;Benavides and Lozano, 2013; and CERNL 2013). The Alex dis-
aster nonetheless revealed a signicant level of social and economic
vulnerability (OECD, 2013b) and in its aftermath, a new round of re-
silience building initiated.
5.1. The immediate reaction to Alex
The immediate reaction to the Alex disaster illustrated well the
citys store of technical capabilities. Piped water oers a case in point.
As mentioned earlier, about 1.7 million inhabitants were left without
the service (about 37% of total population). Within three days 85% of
the MMAs population had access to the service which was fully re-
established within 15 days; at the end of July, tap water was safe to
drink again (SADM, 2010a;SADM, 2010b). Repairing the citys ser-
iously damaged water infrastructure required concerted eorts on the
part of the water and sewer authority; for several weeks, crews totaling
2,200 workers using 300 vehicles worked around the clock. During that
time, SADM regularly emitted press communiques to inform the public
on the progress being made. Another example of rapid rebound was
oered by schools: despite many installations having been damaged,
children started classes in August on time after their summer holidays
(CERNL, 2013).
In parallel with immediate recovery initiatives, the city promptly
embarked on a collective and innovative process of collaboration
among numerous institutions and sectors of society, to develop solu-
tions to the substantial challenges posed by the damages from the ood.
Just three weeks after the disaster, the Nuevo León State Reconstruction
Council (CERNL) was formally established.
5.2. Reconstruction: the Nuevo León State Reconstruction Council (2010-
5.2.1. The Councils architecture and operation
The Council brought together stakeholders from the three levels of
Fig. 6. Storm water infrastructure in the Monterrey Metropolitan Area, 2019.
Source: Adapted from authors, based on a map produced by SADM.
I. Aguilar-Barajas, et al. Environmental Science and Policy 99 (2019) 37–47
government as well as civil society, mainly from the citys powerful
business sector and main universities and research centers. The state
government tasked the Council with guiding and coordinating all re-
construction eorts. Ten work committees were created to handle a
wide range of issues: 1) Design and management of a Reconstruction
Master Plan and Information System; 2) Financing and transparency; 3)
Meteorological risks and water works; 4) Logistics, roadways and mo-
bility; 5) Educational infrastructure; 6) Housing and urban planning; 7)
Aid for vulnerable households; 8) Economic recovery; 9) Health; and,
10) Communications. Each committee was to interact with several
federal, state and municipal departments and agencies (CERNL, 2013).
The Council soon faced face coordination challenges (CERNL,
2013). In the Mexican context, such problems are not uncommon and
derive from the countrys fragmented water governance architecture
(Aguilar-Barajas, 2016; Torregrosa et al., 2015; OCDE, 2013c). Co-
ordination among the three levels of governments itself proved dicult
and the process surrounding the nancing and contracting of public
works, convoluted. In particular, access to funds from the FONDEN
(Fondo Nacional de Desastres Naturales), a federal entity created in 1996
to provide nancial help to states and municipalities aected by natural
disasters (OECD, 2013b), was sluggish.
The following illustrates the previous points. When SADM com-
pleted the reconstruction of the water and sewerage infrastructure af-
fected by the storm, it could not proceed and carry out maintenance
work on the Rompe Picos Dam because of the poor state of the access
road (CERNL, 2013). The federal communications and transport min-
istry, responsible for the rehabilitation of that access road, could not
begin work as FONDEN had not released the required funds. The same
ministry also complained that reinforcing riverbanks was being made
dicult by the lack of progress on the part of the federal water au-
thority as well as the Nuevo León sustainable development secretariat.
Meanwhile, work on rectifying the course of the Santa Catarina River
came to a halt when engineers realized that the data made available by
the federal statistical agency (INEGI) did not meet the spatial resolution
requirements previously established (Ramírez, 2011). In order to pro-
ceed, new data had to be generated through reconnaissance ights over
the river, which had not been originally planned or budgeted for.
5.2.2. Results
The reconstruction of transport infrastructure proceeded gradually,
as damages to the citys two main east-west arteries that follow the
course of the river (Constitución on the north bank and Morones Prieto on
the south bank), as well as bridges over the river connecting the north
and south sides of the city, were extensive. These arteries are funda-
mental for mobility in the MMA and also play an important economic
role in the regional transport network linking the MMA to national
markets and Texas. Reconstruction of these arteries and bridges natu-
rally constituted one of the main and most important tasks of the
The new infrastructure put in place, oered signicant improve-
ments over what the ood had destroyed in terms functionality, capa-
city and robustness to withstand future oods (Sisto and Ramírez-
Orozco, 2015); for example, elevated bridges replaced the old culverts
that had been washed away. Nonetheless, it later became apparent that
the two rebuilt arteries lacked sucient storm drains: in 2013, large
pools of water formed in several sections when Hurricane Ingrid
dumped copious amounts of rain over the city. State authorities ad-
mitted the aw present in the new infrastructure but argued that the
reconstruction budget had not permitted to do more. Since then, people
have come to expect water problems on the new roads whenever it rains
In July 2013, three years after the Alex event, the Council disbanded
after presenting its nal report cited here as CERNL (2013). That
document reported 5,523 actions completed (99.5% of the list of ac-
tions contemplated initially) and estimated total reconstruction ex-
penses at 16.9 billion pesos (approximately USD$1.3 billion). In terms
of funding, 62% originated from federal sources and 38% from state
sources. In terms of spending, 28% of expenses were exercised by fed-
eral authorities - nearly all of this went to hydraulic works and 72%
were exercised by state authorities. In that case, nearly all was spent on
road works and urban infrastructure; less than 5% of state authorities
expenses went to education, housing, health and the environment.
Reconstruction expenses amounted to 1.83% of the 2010 state Gross
Domestic Product (OECD, 2013b)note that more than 90% of the
states economic activity takes place in the MMA. The considerable
sums involved motivated many instances of rivalry, bickering, or worse.
For the duration of the reconstruction period, the state and federal
Fig. 7. Obstruction of the Río Santa Catarina channel (aerial view, May 13, 2009).
Source: Authors, with data from Google Earth.
I. Aguilar-Barajas, et al. Environmental Science and Policy 99 (2019) 37–47
administrations belonged to two distinct, antagonistic political parties.
Roadside billboards proliferated at reconstruction sites to inform mo-
torists and passers-by which authority (state or federal) was in charge.
In the rush to deliver projects, norms and rules (technical, legal and
nancial) were violated, in some cases leading up to abuse and cor-
ruption (Leal Diaz, 2012).
The reconstruction process nonetheless proved successful overall
and fairly rapid. This achievement can be credited in part to the work of
the reconstruction Council but also to the general social environment
that characterizes the MMA. Monterrey has a history of entrepreneur-
ship, innovation and public-private collaboration. This has enabled the
city to overcome the multiple challenges described earlier, beginning
with the Councils creation and operation. Monterreys experience il-
lustrates well the complex nature of building urban resilience: multiple,
varied stakeholders engaged in a web of intricate (and sometimes
contradictory) relationships within a rich multi-layered context, with
outcomes that do not lend themselves to simple explanations.
5.3. Legacy: the Councils main recommendations
Knowledge produced within the Council was presented in a sys-
tematic and ordered fashion in its nal report. The main takeaways in
terms of recommendations for increasing resilience to oods consisted
in: to build an additional regulating dam in the upper Santa Catarina
River Basin to complement the existing Rompe Picos Dam (arguably,
two or more additional dams would be of use); to relocate people living
in areas at risk of inundation and impede their return (i.e. to enforce
existing federal land use laws); to reform and simplify existing regula-
tions on the operations of FONDEN as well as procedures for public
works contracts (i.e. to cut red tape); and to reforest the upper basin of
the Santa Catarina River to limit runodownstream and into the city.
The MMA Water Fund created for that specic purpose, which gathered
stakeholders from government, the private sector, academia and civil
society in general, has been working systematically on this issue. In
2016 the Fund purchased 1,200 hectares of land for reforestation in the
upper basin and currently in 2018, is in the process of acquiring an
additional 1,000 hectares.
Towards the end of its mandate, the Council at the invitation of the
state government participated in the creation of a new state Strategic
Planning law. A new council for Strategic Planning was also estab-
lished. The purpose of that civil-governmental body was to craft de-
velopment policies and monitor their application. Out of this came out
the statesrst Strategic Plan for 2015-2030 (CNLPE, 2015). This Plan
surprisingly barely mentions risks from weather hazards such as hur-
ricanes and makes no reference to the knowledge produced during the
years of the Councils operation. This illustrates that knowledge about
building urban resilience does not simply accumulate over time and
may even be lost.
The city to this day still faces signicant risk from large storms of
the Gilbert or Alex category. Fig. 8 presents areas in the citys down-
town currently classied at risk of ooding from urban runo(dots)
and from the river overowing (light shaded areas), considering a re-
turn period of 1,000 years. Clearly the process of building resilience has
not reached completion, but more than eight years after the Alex dis-
aster, complacency appears to be taking hold.
6. Conclusions: lessons learned and the way forward
The MMA has built a degree of resilience to oods through a com-
plex process - drawn out, incremental and non-linear. This process has
been conditioned in part by the nature of the hazard the city faces: the
infrequency of catastrophic oods has shaped stakeholdersperception
of the risk, fostering complacency and adversely aecting risk man-
agement decisions. The 16-year delay after the 1988 Hurricane Gilbert
disaster in implementing the citys foremost element of preventive re-
silience infrastructure - the upstream regulating dam - is a clear
expression of this. So is the absence, more than 8 years after the 2010
Hurricane Alex disaster, of a plan to build the additional regulating dam
recommended by the Nuevo León State Reconstruction Council in 2013.
The previous exemplies how some of the knowledge co-produced
in the wake of the 2010 disaster seems to have been, if not lost, at least
temporarily forgotten. How to ensure the conservation and continued
development of this knowledge raises important questions. At a
minimum, this should be an explicit objective of a permanent state
development strategy. The experience of the Council may be of great
value in this regard, especially the institutionalization of its major re-
commendations. The continuous updating of the Risk Atlas is another
example of what could be done.
The citys cultural and socioeconomic context has abetted its resi-
lience building process. The immediate reaction to the 2010 disaster
revealed the citys capacity to quickly recover essential functions fol-
lowing a major disturbance and the prompt creation of the Council, its
ability to innovate. The relatively rapid and eective reconstruction of
the city and the signicant work of the Council during that period also
reected that local context - examples of eective multi-stakeholder
working groups in Mexico such as the Council are to say the least, not
common. Monterreys tradition of industry, commerce, higher educa-
tion and cooperation between the business community and local au-
thorities, has produced an environment that has enabled resilience
building. Nonetheless, the institutional capital and knowledge built up
in the aftermath the disaster have begun to dissipate to an extent. Most
of the recommendations formulated by the reconstruction Council have
not translated into concrete action, with the exception of the proposal
to reforest the upper Santa Catarina River basin. The MMA Water Fund
(FAMM) currently undertaking reforestation work upstream from the
city is a notable example of the MMAs currently dampened but con-
tinuing resilience building process.
The wider external political and administrative context in which the
city is embedded has made varied contributions. On the one hand, the
weak national water governance architecture (understood as the whole
social apparatus through which decisions are made) has hampered the
coordination of stakeholdersactions in the aftermath of the 2010 dis-
aster and limited the extent of improvements to infrastructure. On the
other hand, the national early warning system implemented after
Hurricane Gilbert saved dozens of lives in the city in the 2010 disaster.
Monterrey has also beneted from the federal governmentsnancial
contribution to reconstruction a sound investment for the country as a
whole given the citys strategic importance for the Mexican economy.
The MMAs history of damages from storms shows that more than
natural disastersthese events are the consequences of inadequate
prevention, poor land use planning and insucient resilience (Leal
Diaz, 2012;Zuñiga and Magaña, 2018). In the Mexican context, urban
land use patterns are the result of complex social, economic, institu-
tional and political processes involving a multiplicity of actors, at times
antagonistic. The current legal framework where federal regulations
prohibit development on riverbanks but local authorities manage their
own urban development plans and administer construction permits
does not help, but the solution to this conundrum requires more than
simple regulatory changes. Appropriate mechanisms for eective en-
forcement of existing regulations are needed. Political rivals must rea-
lize that urban resilience is a necessity that transcends any particular
agenda, and collaborate towards nding solutions. The public at large
also bears responsibility: people need to appreciate the rationale for
land use regulations and act accordingly.
Torrential rains and oods pose obvious risks for the MMA but also
present signicant benets. In the regions relatively dry climate, ex-
ceptional rains help replenish reservoirs and aquifers that provide water
to the city. For example, in mid-2013 after a prolonged dry spell re-
serves in the MMAs three reservoirs reached below 20% of their
combined capacity; the city was on the brink of a water crisis when
Hurricane Ingrid fortuitously appeared to replenish reserves (Sisto et al.
2016). In a future where the MMA has reached a high level of resilience
I. Aguilar-Barajas, et al. Environmental Science and Policy 99 (2019) 37–47
to storms and hurricanes, these should come to be perceived as bene-
cial. Resilience and water security are in this way intimately linked for
the MMA and stakeholders will need to rene their perception of risk
and risk management with a view “…to mitigate the losses and improve
the benets that people experience when they face risk and opportu-
nity…” (World Bank, 2013). This shift in perception would require, rst
and foremost, educating stakeholders on the multifaceted issues in-
volved and the advantages of preventive, integral risk management
over a reactive, emergency-based approach. This shared knowledge and
understanding would facilitate the building and sustaining of a social
consensus on policy, including the necessity of adopting a broad urban-
regional system scale that links explicitly urban resilience to ash
oods with water supply security. Informed risk-taking, including the
analysis of the consequences of making or not making a given decision,
should be the guiding policy principle.
Ultimately, this speaks to policy by design as proposed in Bobrow and
Dryzek (1987). The concept implies a strong and wide shared knowl-
edge base - which often includes contending frames of reference and a
deep relationship between policy and politics. Policy by design relates
directly to a given policy context. Viewed in this light the specicities of
the MMA discussed in this paper must matter a great deal in the crafting
of future urban resilience policy. A proper understanding of adaptive
risk management should be at the heart of this design.
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... Urbanization is one of the main characteristics of this century [10], where diverse and constantly changing economic activities converge [11], with great influence on the hinterland [12], and where competitions and landscape transformations are constant [13]. In addition to the above, the absence of data on the physical characteristics of watersheds, meteorological data and history of adverse events is recurrent in these areas of extensive urban growth [14,15]. ...
... Due to its location and geographic characteristics, the coasts of the Mexican Republic are exposed to dangerous natural events, of which hydrometeorological phenomena (mainly tropical cyclones, river and coastal flooding, intense winds, cold and heat waves, snowfall, hailstorms, etc., are more recurrent) [16]. Associated with these phenomena, severe local storms of high intensity and short duration occur, causing floods and landslides [17], which are reflected in rapid response in landslides and water scale level along the valley, with flash floods, infrastructure damage, and loss of life [11,18]. ...
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The Mexican Pacific coast is frequently affected by meteorological systems that cause rain. These events are beneficial when they precipitate in the internal valleys of the basins and water is captured from the highlands by filtration, recharging the aquifers, and allowing surface runoff through rivers and runoffs that are the natural sources of freshwater. On the other hand, these systems are adverse when they precipitate in excess, and additionally, they are associated with bad decisions and urban planning errors that put at risk the life and patrimony of some social sectors, this aspect has become a national security issue for the authorities. The region of Bahia de Banderas has a rainwater drainage network through open-pit channels that partially cover the urban area, a situation that puts the population and its assets at risk since rain considered common causes significant puddles, a situation that is progressively worsening, but the great danger of an extraordinary amount of rain, as has occurred in the past, is represented by the hydrological basins that cross or are adjacent to it, an aspect that will be discussed in greater detail in this article.
... This integration is most extensive, and promotes a wider consideration of alternatives where governance arrangements promote ongoing exchanges of information and discussion of solutions, whether through formal mechanisms such as regional committees (Gim et al., 2019;Ostovar, 2019;Rasmus et al., 2020;Zarei et al., 2020) or informal mechanisms such as personal networks and local discussion groups (Madsen et al., 2019;Yumagulova and Vertinsky, 2019). Where such arrangements are absent, practitioner knowledge is side-lined from the formulation and implementation of decisions (Orleans Reed et al., 2013;Aguilar-Barajas et al., 2019;Matsler, 2019;Ramsey et al., 2019). ...
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Chapter 17 assesses the options, processes, and enabling conditions for climate risk management, a key component of climate resilient development. This chapter focuses on the ‘how’ of climate risk management and adaptation. It covers: the adaptation and risk management options that are available; the governance and applicability of options in different contexts; residual risk and Loss and Damage; the methods and tools that can be drawn on to support climate risk management planning and implementation; enabling conditions and drivers for adaptation; the role of monitoring and evaluation for integrated risk management and tracking progress, success and the risk of maladaptation; and finally, integration of risk management across sectors, jurisdictions, and time horizons, under dynamic conditions of environmental and societal change.
... Urban agglomeration has been transforming into a crucial engine for economic and social development as global urbanisation speeds up (Bertinelli & Black, 2004;Fang & Yu, 2017;Sining & Jun, 2021;Tian et al., 2021). However, population growth, urban expansion, and climate change have put currently urban agglomerations under strain because of environmental pollution, disease epidemics, and economic crises (Aguilar-Barajas et al., 2019;Gao et al., 2021;Huang et al., 2021;Li et al., 2020;Liu et al., 2017), bringing severe conflicts over policy responses, risk transfers, social cohesion, resource allocation (Iammarino et al., 2019;Pan, 2020;Xu et al., 2020;Zhang et al., 2020). Thus, no single city can effectively address external disturbances alone, and thus, different urban contexts and coordination between cities must be considered (Ziervogel et al., 2017). ...
Urban agglomeration, a highly evolved spatial form of integrated cities, has developed more rapidly with the growing interconnections among the cities. While benefiting from its invigorating prosperity, cities also confront palpable risks. Urban resilience and regional synergy are currently enduring more serious challenges. However, compelling research on urban agglomeration resilience is insufficiently conducted. This study proposes a four-dimensional evaluation index system (economic, political, social, and infrastructure) with a prone emphasis on political resilience, making up for the previous deficiency in interrogating political dimension. A basis for revealing the spatiotemporal evolution of the urban agglomeration resilience in the Yangtze River Delta urban agglomeration (YRD) is provided. Research results indicate that: (1) Urban resilience in YRD has increased significantly and continues to grow, with regional differences narrowing; (2) the YRD's resilience suggests a polycentric cluster distribution with resilience declining from the centre cities to surrounding ones; (3) the urban resilience gradually decreased from the east to the west, from the coast to the interior; and (4) cities with high economic and political resilience may be inferior in other two aspects, necessitating complementary capabilities amongst the cities. Understanding the spatiotemporal evolution of resilience is expected to further induce resilience development and urban synergy.
... However, September tends to be the rainiest month of the season, accumulating about 120 mm of rainfall. Nevertheless, every 3-4 years, heavy rain events add 100 mm or more within 24 h periods, often associated with tropical storms and/or hurricanes [30]. Therefore, it is no surprise that local rivers and creeks carry minimal flows all year round. ...
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Contamination from wastewater infiltration, typically from leaky sewers, poses a threat to urban groundwater resources. Artificial sweeteners (Asws), used as sucrose substitutes in many products of daily consumption, are released into groundwater systems and may be used as tracers of wastewater in urban groundwater environments, because most of these compounds are discharged directly into sewer systems. Here, for the first time, we investigated the occurrence of Asws in an urban groundwater system in Mexico. Artificial sweetener concentrations of acesulfame (ACE), aspartame (ASP), cyclamate (CYC), saccharin (SAC), and sucralose (SUC) were tested in 42 production wells in the Monterrey Metropolitan Area (MMA). The detection frequencies of quantified Asws observations were in the order ACE (57%) > SUC (54%) > SAC (7%), with SUC being the most abundant Asws, with concentrations below the quantification limit (BQL) of 2.9 µg/L, followed by ACE (BQL 0.73 µg/L) and SAC (BQL 1.4 µg/L). ASP and CYC were not detected at any sampling site. Considerable Asws ingestion amongst the MMA population is the main input source of Asws into the city’s wastewater network, percolating into the urban groundwater system due to leaky sewers. Our work shows that the application of Asws as wastewater tracers (SUC and ACE) effectively determines wastewater sources affecting urban groundwater.
... This integration is most extensive, and promotes a wider consideration of alternatives where governance arrangements promote ongoing exchanges of information and discussion of solutions, whether through formal mechanisms such as regional committees (Gim et al., 2019;Ostovar, 2019;Rasmus et al., 2020;Zarei et al., 2020) or informal mechanisms such as personal networks and local discussion groups (Madsen et al., 2019;Yumagulova and Vertinsky, 2019). Where such arrangements are absent, practitioner knowledge is side-lined from the formulation and implementation of decisions (Orleans Reed et al., 2013;Aguilar-Barajas et al., 2019;Matsler, 2019;Ramsey et al., 2019). ...
... Lithgow et al, 2020and Zúñiga et al, (2018 reported that the trend in the number of urban floods in coastal regions of Mexico, is related to the environmental vulnerability of hydrological basin, which generates an increase in runoff and risk of flooding in the lower areas of watershed, due to the loss of natural soil covers. This condition of risk is a result of the LUCC in hydrological basins due to urban development and a high frequency of intense rain events (Aguilar-Barajas et al., 2019;Areu-Rangel et al., 2019). Analyzing the impact of urban floods in Mexico we found that the state of Veracruz concentrates around 40 % of the total flood records that occurred from 1970 to 2015 (CENAPRED, 2017;DesInventar, 2019;FONDEN, 2019). ...
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Due to their frequency and magnitude, urban floods affect different regions of the world. For this reason, several methodologies integrate information on hazard (H) and vulnerability (V) using a "Classic" Risk (R) model for risk analysis. However, this combination of variables generally overestimates the risk in places where the frequency of flooding is low. In this work we propose a model that we call Adjusted Risk (AR) that integrates values of urban proximity (p) to bodies of water, as a tool to assess the risk of floods. The comparison between the R and AR models showed a higher efficiency of AR to reproduce the frequency of floods for 210 cities in Veracruz, while R overestimated the level of risk in cities with low frequency of floods. The correlation values associated with the frequency of flood events for a period of 45 years (1970-2015), allow to establish the utility of the AR model to evaluate the risk of urban floods when using different scales of analysis.
... Asphalt and concrete pavements also contribute to urban heat islands, increasing cities' average temperatures compared to the surrounding rural areas, especially at night (Mohajerani et al., 2017;Martilli et al., 2020). Overall, the effects can be very detrimental since they can exacerbate the vulnerability to natural hazards such as flash floods (Aguilar- Barajas et al., 2019) or heatwave episodes amplified by the urban heat island effect (Zanzi et al., 2020). The frequency and intensity of these extreme events are expected to increase in a climate change context, as highlighted in several works (e.g., Zhao et al., 2018;Wu et al., 2020). ...
Urban population and urbanisation are increasing rapidly, mainly in developing countries, usually at the expense of green and blue areas. This trend will decrease the ecosystems' capacity to supply ecosystem services (ES) and threaten human wellbeing. Therefore, it is key to establish greening policies in urbanising areas, which are essential to improve the liveability of cities. Restoring and developing green and blue infrastructures using nature-based solutions is vital to improving urban biodiversity and urban ecosystems. Healthy urban ecosystems have a high capacity to supply regulating (e.g., air, noise, climate and water regulation), provisioning (e.g., food, medicinal plants, biomass) and cultural (e.g., recreation, landscape aesthetics, social cohesion) ES. This multifunctionality can provide diverse environmental, social and economic benefits to urban residents, hence contributing to the sustainability of urban areas. However, urban green and blue areas are also associated with ecosystem disservices (e.g., plant allergies or poisoning, emission of biogenic volatile organic compounds, unpleasant smells), tradeoffs (e.g., increased water consumption, wildfire risk, associated management costs) and implementation barriers (e.g., political motivation, lack of knowledge, time and workload). Overall, the SI published 8 articles from different parts of the world, such as China, the USA, Italy or Spain, focused on important aspects of greening the city (e.g., green roofs, green walls, green infrastructures, sustainable mobility.
Conference Paper
Mobile applications to manage disaster risks have been gaining more and more acceptance internationally. Mexico City has not been the exception and in the last five years its production and use by the government has increased. However, the main function of these applications has been merely informative and the role of inhabitants basically passive. This has been the case of communication and information technologies in the case of floods. Therefore, the objective of this work was to identify the potential and the conditions for the development and use of mobile applications to manage flood risk in Mexico City in a co-management context, as a result of a long-term research project. From two case studies, the most important functions in the voice of the population were identified from interviews and focus groups and later these functions were systematized and intended to be technified in a mobile application. The process allowed us to see the potential of digital co-management of flood risk supported by technology, and at the same time, to identify the different conditioning factors. On the one hand, among the most important potentials are the optimization of resources and the possible reduction of losses during floods. Similarly, it was observed that a co-production process with the population at risk increases the probability of acceptance of the technology. But on the other hand, various spatial, administrative, legislative and technical factors were identified that condition the use of this type of technology at the local level, such as the difficulties imposed by the territorial scale, and the administrative interlinks within the several dependencies responsible for both, risk management and for the production of mobile applications, for which recommendations are proposed.
Technical Report
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Climate change risks present a clear challenge for Ireland’s built environment, with the potential to cause enormous damage to housing, commercial property and critical infrastructure, imposing significant financial costs and posing risks to health and well-being. At the urban scale, vulnerability to flooding (fluvial, pluvial and coastal), coastal erosion and heat stress will increase due to anticipated climate change. At the building scale, building fabric is at increased risk because of increases in precipitation (increased water penetration and indoor moisture content); subsidence (more variable water content in soil); more intensive freeze–thaw cycles; damage from wind and increased storminess, including structural damage and increased weathering due to driving rain; and impacts on indoor air quality and thermal comfort. These risks are systemic issues in that development patterns and decisions can compound and entrench future risks, for example building on floodplains or increasing impermeable surface cover in cities. Adaptation is the critical second pillar of climate action, alongside mitigation. At the national level, Ireland’s National Adaptation Framework sets out the key principles for adaptative action, calling for a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach. The National Adaptation Framework’s actions are to be mainstreamed using sectoral adaptation strategies and local adaptation strategies. There is no explicit sectoral guidance for the built environment; however, local adaptation strategies are invariably focused on protecting the built environment in terms of homes, businesses, critical infrastructure and cultural heritage, with an emphasis on resilience-in-place. The National Adaptation Framework promotes the advancement of grey, green and soft adaptation approaches, providing a suitable framework for built environment interventions. In relation to the built environment and climate action, currently much greater emphasis is placed on mitigation measures than on adaptation measures. There is significant scope for advancing a greater policy coherence on adaptation through the planning system and building control, and on regulations through considering a broader set of anticipated climate risks and by integrating mitigation and adaptation actions (and avoiding maladaptation). While there is good awareness of a portfolio of policy and design approaches for adaptation, through a survey and interviews with key stakeholders, we found a gap in policy implementation and barriers to taking holistic action. In relation to building design, these barriers included a lack of client interest in green adaptation; a tendency to construct to minimum standards; a gap between building design and actual building performance; the behaviour of building occupants in relation to building performance; and a lack of monitoring and review. In relation to planning and local adaptation, barriers included a lack of adequate resourcing, institutional silos and/ or inertia and the absence of specialist knowledge. Enhanced knowledge, training, continuing professional development and institutional capacity-building offer key paths towards more ambitious adaptation within Ireland’s built environment sector. This extends beyond existing local authority-level capacity-building initiatives to embrace the whole sector from third-level education to professional design practice and construction, while also addressing public sector resourcing deficiencies. In this report we propose a series of 28 Built Environment-Resilient recommendations under four headings to enhance policy and practice. Key priorities are: 1. Mainstreaming adaptation in the built environment. This includes prioritising adaptation as a critical second pillar of climate action; focusing on the full range of climate change risks (not simply flooding); integrating built environment adaptation with the wider land use system; capturing mitigation and adaptation benefits through holistic approaches; and focusing on the whole built environment and not only new-builds. 2. Evidence and uncertainty in decision-making. Adaptation of the built environment requires a robust and geographically tailored evidence base; there is a need for granular and useable information on climate impacts. Uncertainty strengthens the case for early investment and points to adopting the precautionary approach, and further research is needed in relation to costs, responsibilities of key stakeholders, behaviour of building occupants and social vulnerability in relation to climate risks. 3. Co-designing of adaptation interventions. This includes collaborative stakeholder engagement, the inclusion of climate scenarios as part of statutory public consultation and the testing of novel public engagement methods. 4. Capacity-building requirements. This includes improving resourcing and institutional capacity, adopting new ways of working to avoid traditional siloed thinking and continued professional development and training for elected representatives.
Urban resilience (UR) is a central concept in enabling cities to be prepared for disasters and unexpected events caused by climate change-induced extreme weather conditions. The field is dedicated to developing solutions and models in this regard. In particular, the emergence of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has threatened certain industries and has compelled cities to re-evaluate and address resilience. This study aims to provide an overview of the subject by examining the academic and industrial literature on UR, categorizing publications, analyzing major trends, as well as highlighting gaps and providing future research recommendations. In this context, 146 journal articles and 9 industrial reports published up to the end of 2020 were examined. Journal articles have been examined under three headings as literature reviews, conceptual models, and analytical models. The approaches and analytical techniques discussed in the field are also examined in the review. These examinations and classifications constitute the originality of the study. Examination of industrial reports has provided us with the opportunity to understand the practices discussed and suggested by practitioners in this field. The results show that the most commonly arising issue in UR is climate change. Finally, the research gaps and future suggestions are presented.
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Este libro llena un vacío en la literatura sobre el abastecimiento de agua al Área Metropolitana de Monterrey (AMM) de poco más de 35 años. Iniciando con el reconocimiento de un contexto regional completo y geoestratégico para México, en sus páginas se encuentra una historia rica en lecciones y experiencias sobre como esta metrópoli se ha adaptado a entornos adversos para proporcionar servicios de agua y saneamiento de calidad, reconocidos en el ámbito nacional y latinoamericano. Se demuestra que los retos actuales y potenciales en materia de mayor seguridad hídrica para el AMM, requieren de una gobernanza más proactiva e integrada, traducida en decisiones informadas y responsables.
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Infrastructure development is central to the processes that abate and produce vulnerabilities in cities. Urban actors, especially those with power and authority, perceive and interpret vulnerability and decide when and how to adapt. When city managers use infrastructure to reduce urban risk in the complex, interconnected city system, new fragilities are introduced because of inherent system feedbacks. We trace the interactions between system dynamics and decision-making processes over 700 years of Mexico City’s adaptations to water risks, focusing on the decision cycles of public infrastructure providers (in this case, government authorities). We bring together two lenses in examining this history: robustness-vulnerability trade-offs to explain the evolution of systemic risk dynamics mediated by feedback control, and adaptation pathways to focus on the evolution of decision cycles that motivate significant infrastructure investments. Drawing from historical accounts, archeological evidence, and original research on water, engineering, and cultural history, we examine adaptation pathways of humans settlement, water supply, and flood risk. Mexico City’s history reveals insights that expand the theory of coupled infrastructure and lessons salient to contemporary urban risk management: (1) adapting by spatially externalizing risks can backfire: as cities expand, such risks become endogenous; (2) over time, adaptation pathways initiated to address specific risks may begin to intersect, creating complex trade-offs in risk management; and (3) city authorities are agents of risk production: even in the face of new exogenous risks (climate change), acknowledging and managing risks produced endogenously may prove more adaptive. History demonstrates that the very best solutions today may present critical challenges for tomorrow, and that collectively people have far more agency in and influence over the complex systems we live in than is often acknowledged.
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Natural disasters should be examined within a risk-perspective framework where both natural hazards and vulnerability are considered. The trend toward more frequent floods in Mexico in recent decades is not only the result of more intense rainfall, but also a consequence of increased vulnerability. As a multifactorial element, vulnerability is a low-frequency modulating factor of the risk dynamics to intense rainfall. It can be described in terms of physical, social and economical factors. For instance, deforested or urbanized areas are the physical and social factors that lead to the deterioration of watersheds and an increased vulnerability to intense rains. Increased watershed vulnerability due to land-cover changes is the primary factor leading to more floods, particularly over south-central Mexico. Only in some parts of the country, such as Baja California Sur, the increased frequency of intense rainfall (i.e., natural hazard) associated with high-intensity tropical cyclones is the leading cause of more frequent floods. We have developed a methodology to estimate flood risk associated with heavy rainfall considering changes in land cover and use, terrain slope and basin compactness are key vulnerability factors. The capability of the flood-risk model for Mexico was tested by comparing the observed and modeled frequency of floods for the 1970-2010 period. It was found that over most of the Mexican territory, more frequent floods are the result of a rapid deforestation process. Consequently, flood-risk management should include structural measures, such as watershed restoration and land cover - use planning.
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Understanding and transforming how cities think is a crucial part of developing effective knowledge infrastructures for the Anthropocene. In this article, we review knowledge co-production as a popular approach in environmental and sustainability science communities to the generation of useable knowledge for sustainability and resilience. We present knowledge systems analysis as a conceptual and empirical framework for understanding existing co-production processes as preconditions to the design of new knowledge infrastructures in cities. Knowledge systems are the organizational practices and routines that make, validate, communicate, and apply knowledge. The knowledge systems analysis framework examines both the workings of these practices and routines and their interplay with the visions, values, social relations, and power dynamics embedded in the governance of building sustainable cities. The framework can be useful in uncovering hidden relations and highlighting the societal foundations that shape what is (and what is not) known by cities and how cities can co-produce new knowledge with meaningful sustainability and resilience actions and transformations. We highlight key innovations and design philosophies that we think can advance research and practice on knowledge co-production for urban sustainability and resilience.
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Improving urban resilience could help cities better cope with natural disasters, such as neighborhood flood events in Mexico City pictured here. Data source: Unidad Tormenta, Sistema de Aguas de la Ciudad de Mexico.
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Critical national infrastructures, including energy, transport, digital communications and water, are prone to flood damage. Their geographical extent is a determinant of, and is determined by, patterns of human development, which is often concentrated in floodplains. It is important to understand how infrastructure systems react to large-scale flooding. In this paper we present an integrated framework for critical infrastructure flood impact assessment. Within this integrated framework we represent interdependent infrastructure assets through spatial network models. We quantify infrastructure flood impacts in terms of disrupted customers linked directly to flood assets and customers disrupted indirectly due to network effects. The analysis shows how spatial network models inform flood risk management practitioners to identify and compare critical infrastructures risks on flooded and non-flooded land, for prioritising flood protection investments and improve resilience of cities. A case study of the Thames catchment in England is presented, which contains key infrastructure assets and highest population concentrations in United Kingdom.
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Challenges for a sustainable urban development are increasingly important in cities because urbanization and related land take come up with negative challenges for the environment and for city residents. Searching for successful solutions to environmental problems requires combined efforts of different scientific disciplines and an active dialogue between stakeholders from policy and society. In this paper, we present a comparative assessment of the way policy-science dialogues have achieved knowledge co-production about strategic urban environmental governance action using the cities of Berlin in Germany and Rotterdam in the Netherlands as case studies. The ecosystem services framework is applied as a lens for policy–science interaction and a ‘knowledge co-production operating space’ is introduced. We show how policy officers, urban planners, practitioners and scientists learned from each other, and highlight the impact of this knowledge co-production for governance practice. We found that the concerted collaboration and co-creation between researchers and policy officers have led to mutual learning and establishment of relationships and trust in both cities. Not only the policy-relevance of research and its policy uptake were achieved but also new insights for research blind spots were created. In our conclusions we reflect on co-production processes with two types of conditions that we introduced to be most influential in the way knowledge can be co-created. These are conditions that relate to the way knowledge co-production processes are set-up and, conditions that relate to the expected value or benefit that the co-produced knowledge will bring across society, policy and practice.