Karina Izquierdo, Local Pathways Fellow (Mexico City, Mexico), UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network - Youth Initiative

As a Local Pathways Fellow I had the opportunity to explore how the dynamics of urban policies and infrastructure planning in Mexico City have created vulnerable citizens and accumulated risk to climate events and natural disasters, while perpetuating inequalities.

When confronted with the task to localize the SDGs under a specific target, I began by developing a strategic vision to “Reduce urban risk, towards inclusion and resilience” framed under Target 11B of the SDGs, aimed at: implementing policies for inclusion, resource efficiency and disaster risk reduction. My background in architecture and urban planning with a focus on urban policies are the tools I make use of to tackle the challenges of the city.

The initial stage of the project began with research to form an understanding of the geospatial social inequalities, identifying vulnerable groups to climate events and defining priorities. It revealed that by attending the imbalance and inefficiencies in water management and promoting a circular system, risks that are derived from this issue, such as floods, land subsidence and water scarcity can be reduced and vulnerability scenarios from climate change be mitigated. An evaluation of policies and programs to find gaps and inconsistencies followed, to eventually come up with indicators to measure vulnerability and evaluate risk. Soon after, the earthquake in Mexico City provided the opportunity to take this a step further, engaging with different groups of civil society and influence groups for the socialization of risk. The efforts were aimed at empowering citizens to become urban actors, to understand the interconnections between the characteristics of the place they live in; with the derived risk, and consequently the role they can play. Also, to provide input for the rebuilding law and now working on a “know your territory” campaign to raise awareness on the importance on pushing forwards towards a circular system for water in the city and a climate-smart water management strategy.

The Fellowship provided me with a solid platform from which to approach decision makers and the confidence to advocate for sustainable cities with a wider array of tools and in different scenarios. Being part of a network of young leaders from 52 cities has also been a highlight of the experience, as we created synergies among fellows from different disciplines and found inspiration in what others were accomplishing. Moreover, sharing perspectives within our working groups has been a way to keep the tension between the local and the global, as I learned from the challenges that other cities were facing and the types of solutions that were being implemented at the community level.

As a result, we had the unique opportunity to present our projects at the World Urban Forum in Kuala Lumpur. It enabled us to have a voice at the premiere conference of cities and be part of the Cities 2030 global conversation. We had 2 dedicated sessions where we had the chance to engage with other WUF participants to receive valuable feedback and networking, this was certainly stimulating and gave me ideas to pursue upon my return to Mexico City. I am looking forward to follow the paths of each of my fellows for I am certain they will all continue to contribute to more enabling environments for youth, sustainable communities, and more equitable and inclusive societies.


Karina Izquierdo

Karina Izquierdo