The conference

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). Although it was at first interpreted as an alternative to a wasteful way of living, nowadays it has been substituted by an optimistic hope that cities may survive through a capacity to overcome risks, and that cities that could be viewed as “the problem” of the global warming, could also be seen as the “solution”..

As for sustainability, there has been a legitimate fascination from diverse academic approaches that have fed urban studies. This issue was stimulated by the United Nation Environmental Programme since the 1970’s decade, and got a strong outlining start with the Declaration for Habitat I in Vancouver in 1977. Since then over its main concern focussed on rapid and sprawling urban growth that threat natural, economic and social life of cities that jeoparadize sustainability.

In Mexico, close to thirty cities and sites have been declared as heritage sites and many others as mixture of natural and historical heritage, which have translated to urban public policies and other instruments to manage these historic districts. Local and Urban Governance, is a concept with an important academic tradition in Geography, mainly since the 1980’s, well reflected in the establishment by the IGU of its first Study Group on this field in 1984, promoted to the status of Commission in 1988, focused on the analysis of the relations between territorial institutions and spatial processes.

Since cities have been largely threatened in different Braudelian historical times and facing also the most recent risks issued from a predatory way of living, this meeting will confront experiences in a comparative global context. It will focus on specific and generic properties, the social, economic and environmental issues they pose, and to evaluate the utility of political and societal solutions to their problems, while trying to answer the following questions: Is local and urban governance processes a key dimension to understand the current and past urban conditions and dynamics? Can local and urban governance processes be a driver of policy changes towards sustainable urban development? Can resilient cities be a real response to a global threat? How can this be promoted through our six commissions in 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 talk about two main streams of knowledge – resilience and governance – in contemporary cities and other human settlements. The idea is to bring together distinct geographical specialties such as local and urban governance, history, demography, urban studies and ecology, to encourage common efforts towards 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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