Mexico City’s resilience journey
Mexico City is the largest city in the Western Hemisphere, and the eighth wealthiest city on earth. It is home to more museums than any other city, and has the fourth highest number of theaters.
More than 20 million inhabitants live in this megalopolis – but a large percentage live in extremely vulnerable conditions. The proliferation of informal employment, a lag in infrastructure, strong social inequality, severe weather, and the sheer size of the city’s population all compound the risk of disaster – social disaster, political disaster, and environmental disaster.
Mexico City faces significant danger from natural phenomena. Its geographical conditions make it continually susceptible to seismic hazards, while being located on land that was once a lake makes the city prone to flooding. Runoff from the nearby mountains is improperly managed, which, in addition to flooding, can lead to mudslides and waterborne diseases from standing water.
Aware of both its strengths and weaknesses, Mexico City is poised to transform its resilience plan from reactive to proactive in the coming years.
Meet the Chief Resilience Officer
Secretary of Integral Risk Management and Civil Protection of Mexico City
Myriam Urzúa is an architect with 40 years’ professional experience, including six years’ architectural design of hospitals in Cuba, and 14 years in the institutional framework of Environment and Urban Development in Mexico (SAHOP, SEDUE, and SEDESOL). She is currently Secretary of Integral Risk Management and Civil Protection of Mexico City.
As a consultant for UNEP’s and ECLAC’s Latin America and the Caribbean Offices, Myriam has coordinated projects to assess the economic, environmental, and social impacts of shocks in Mexico, El Salvador, Haiti, Guatemala, and Colombia. She worked on the UN’s International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Dominican Republic and in Uruguay, and prepared the Evaluation Report on Disaster Prevention and Reduction in Central America. During this time Myriam was a consultant to the State of the Central American Region in preparing its Study on Management, Urban Services, and Urban Vulnerability. Myriam’s assessment missions for award-winning HABITAT projects in Pakistan and Vietnam were recognized by the Building Social Housing Foundation.
Since 2014, Myriam has been an active member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the National Civil Protection System on Social Sciences in Mexico. Her recent roles include consulting on capacity-building in disaster impact assessment and post-disaster needs and recovery for the Division of Disaster Management and Urban Practices in Latin America (WB), preparing the Comprehensive Risk Management Plan for the Tlalpan 2018–2021 Delegation, and developing the Conceptual Framework for Risk Management Action Plans for the Mexican Office for Agrarian, Land and Urban Development (SEDATU).
Myriam completed postgraduate studies in Research and Teaching of Urbanism at UNAM and Urbanism at the University of Chile. She obtained a postgraduate diploma in Political and Social Sciences in Germany (DDR).