Since there are no currently active contests, we have switched Climate CoLab to read-only mode.
Learn more at
Skip navigation
Share via:


High risk & vulnerability for coastal communities and economic activities facing climate change require an ICZM approach to build resilience



There are four different coastal regions in Mexico which require specific approaches given coastal geological features; economic activities; population; and institutional capacity. These four coastal regions are: 

1) North Pacific with the Sea of Cortés, with tourism and fisheries activities; large ports and prone to hurricanes strikes. 

2) South Pacific, with tourism and energy activities (oil); and vulnerable to floods

3) Gulf of Mexico, with large ports, coastal roads, fisheries, and energy activities (oil and gas); and very vulnerable to hurricanes, coastal erosion, and floods

4) the Caribbean. with tourism and port activities; and very vulnerable to hurricanes, coastal erosion and floods

The various effects of climate change are affecting the energy oil and gas extraction of Mexico; as well as vital lines of communication and transportation, such as ports and coastal roads, many of which are very close to the seaside. All this impacts in many other ways the economic activities and livelihoods of small, medium, and large cities. As a cascade effect, health is also impacted, as well as natural resources, ecosystems and biodiversity.

Many of the negative coastal impacts received from climate change is due to a poor (if any) institutional capacity for addressing such impacts in an integrated fashion. Most of the times, the urgency of these effects result in an "end of the pipe" solution which is ineffective, temporal and with serious problems attached. The ICZM approach would allow a proper review of the decision making process based in an accurate assessment of the environmental, economic, institutional, social and policy contributing elements to produce an effective plan for managing the coastal zone towards building resilience for climate change effects. 

Each one of these coastal regions had already suffered from negative climate effects, but the emergency response was case-based, without considering adaptation, and no strengthen of institutional capacity.

What actions do you propose?

1. The first step is to determine the level of risk and vulnerability of each coastal region, focusing in the key economic activities performed and the local communities involved.  A bibliographic search will be conducted to gather all relevant information per coastal region regarding: 1) risk and vulnerability assessments; 2) social and economic investments and financial status for key economic activities per region; 3) demographic information; 4) policy analysis; 5) local legal framework, management plans for natural protected areas or fisheries, and any available planning tools; 6) environmental and conservation status; 7) institutional capacity; 8) Risk Atlas at State and municipal levels; 9) climate change scenarios per region; 10) any other relevant information.

A mayor problem is the incomplete, null or poor information at local level. The focus of this information is also an issue since most of the coastal State and Municipal Atlas are incomplete only considering the historical occurrence of natural and human disasters. 

For the purpose of this proposal, four cases would be studied as follows: 1) North Pacific: Tourism-Cabo San Lucas


                                             Port-La Paz, BCS

                  2) South Pacific: Tourism and Port-Acapulco

                 3) Gulf of Mexico: Energy-Campeche Bank



                 4) Caribbean: Tourism-Cancun

2. It is important to evaluate the type of hazards each coastal region is facing. Therefore, the oceanographic information would be gathered about coastal processes, tides, sediments transportation, and waves, among other. Each coastal region in Mexico receives a different impact from climate change effects. Particular features per coastal region enhances or diminish these impacts.

Coastal zones in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean have very lowlands, sometimes under 10 meters from the sea level with large coastal lagoons; marshes and taller mangroves along the seashore; and a wide and shallow adjacent continental platform. The Pacific coasts in Mexico are higher with cliffs and high lands; with marshes, smaller mangroves and desert dunes in the Northern Pacific coast; and the continental slope very close to the seashore. 

3. Field assessment for accurate coastal diagnosis Such coastal features modulate the environment, access, and use of natural resources; and therefore the economic activities performed in each coastal region.  For each economic sector, there is specific infrastructure, a connectivity system, and a support system (institutional, social, and environmental).  In each coastal region it is important to assess such elements to determine the risk facing climate change effects per case. In the field it is also important to evaluate the a) presence/absence of key infrastructure and systems, b) status, and c) type/design. Also it is important to assess the institutional capacity interviewing the key actors and the users.

With this information, economic studies would be done considering climate change scenarios, as well as an integrated management assessment; and a policy-environmental analysis in order to determine per coastal region and per case the following: a) building climate change requirements for existent infrastructure and activities; b) protection infrastructure requirements for existent and future activities and cities; c) modification requirements for current infrastructure and activities; and d) relocation requirements for infrastructure and activities. All these will provide important inputs for current Atlas, as well as management recommendations for building resilience and adaptation strategies. An important input may be the potential eco-engineering interventions to mitigate coastal squeeze.

4. Building a Digital Platform of the coastal-marine zones for Mexico is crucial in order to systematize all the available oceanographic information, as well as the universities' networks and observation systems from the federal government for the same purpose of monitoring: a) sea level rise, coastal erosion, salinization of soils, loss of coastal ecosystems, storm tides and surges, floods, harmful algal blooms, marine water acidification, etc.   

This Digital Platform would contribute to evaluate the effects of climate change at a smaller scale which is very important for decision making processes. As well as contribute to the identification and design of coastal and marine indicators for resilience and adaptation for impacted ecosystems; damaged infrastructure; affected local economies; and risk and vulnerable communities and groups.  At the same time, this Platform would contribute to early warnings and civil protection plans; provide inputs for Risk Atlas; allow researchers to have accurate information; and identify gaps of research and information.

5. Building resilience for adaptation to climate change do need an integrated coastal management approach, which take into consideration a policy analysis, as well as a wider economic and engineering assessment of the type and kind of infrastructure there are, as well as its status; the existent economic connections between key activities; the communication and transportation links; the institutions involved within the decision making processes for ordering the coastal territory; the uses, users and actors of the coastal zone; and the institutional capacity and the economic assessment for implementing any adaptation measure.   

The ICZM Plan for Mexico at a national and regional levels is the key to achieve a more resilient coastal zone and to identify, design and implement proper adaptation actions to face climate change effects. The IZCM plans would focus on each case of study at each one of the four coastal regions. Each one the plans would consider all the above information, as well as the local institutional capacity in general and for implementing an IZCM plan.

Work meetings will be conducted with key actors at each location for creating the IZCM Groups that will steer the design and implementation process. These IZCM Groups would receive training and would strengthen the decision making process which will increase the public participation in designing the IZCM Plan. 

Each IZCM Plan would contain: a) Delimitation and definition of the coastal zone per region and per case; b) Social, economic, political and environmental characterization; c) institutional capacity and legal framework; d) IZCM Model built with a Geographical Information System; e) coastal governance analysis; f) coastal planning tools; g) IZCM strategies for building resilience; and e) IZCM strategies for adaptation to climate change effects.

Who will take these actions?

Government actors that are responsible for the decision making process: The key actors would be all the federal Ministers present at each coastal region of Mexico (Tourism, Energy; Navy, Environment, Transportation, etc). Also representatives of the municipal and State governments should be considered, inviting the counterpart of the federal government.  

Private sector actors that participate in the regional economy development: Major key actors are private sectors developing activities within each coastal region. Chambers of industry and commerce; transportation, restaurants, health, insurance, and tourism associations, fisheries industry, medium and small business that may be impacted by climate change, tourism operators, and several service providers. 

Vulnerable groups: Key actors are indigenous people, fishermen, women groups, as well as citizens with a particular voluntary public service, and ejidos representatives.

Organized society: It is also important consider the representatives form organized society, environmental groups, grassroots groups

Science and technology: To promote informed decision making it is vital to consider always research and academic institutions

Where will these actions be taken?

This proposal is to be implemented in four coastal regions in Mexico. However, due to the logic and methodology applied, it will be easy to be replicated within other sites in Mexico and all along Latin America since the approach focus in similar coastal problems and challenges towards building resilience and design the best adaptation strategies.

What are other key benefits?

1. Training IZCM courses for key actors at each study case for local capacity building

2. Several publications for educating the public on civil protection and climate change

3. Potential eco-engineering approaches for avoiding coastal ecosystems squeeze

What are the proposal’s costs?

Although there is information that can be gathered, much of this information requires to be updated and each region will require exhaustive work at local level. 

Considering the alarming levels of violence and insecurity, this proposal would be implemented only in safe locations.

The proposal costs 3 million dollars

Time line

This is a short term proposal which can be achieve within a period of 12 years, corresponding to 2 federal and state administrations and 4 municipal administrations

Related proposals


Botello, A., S. Villanueva, J. Gutiérrez y J.L. Rojas, 2010 y 2012. Vulnerabilidad de las zonas costeras mexicanas ante el cambio climático. Serie Científica EPOMEX-UAC

Carranza-Edwards A, Rosales-Hoz L, Caso M et al (2004) La geología ambiental de la zona litoral. In Caso M, Pisanti I, Ezcurra E (eds.), Diagnóstico ambiental del Golfo de México, Volumen 1. SEMARNAT, INE, INECOL and Harte Research Institute, México, D.F., pp 571-601

EC (2004) Development of a Guidance Document on Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and Coastal Erosion. Final Report DGENV European Commission, pp 68

EUROSION (2004a) Living with coastal erosion in Europe: Sediment and Space for Sustainability. PART I - Major findings and Policy Recommendations of the EUROSION project. RIKZ-EUCC-IGN-UAB-BRGM-IFEN-EADS, Brussels

EUROSION (2004b) Living with coastal erosion in Europe: Sediment and Space for Sustainability. A guide to coastal erosion management practices in Europe. RIKZ-EUCC-IGN-UAB-BRGM-IFEN-EADS, Brussels

INECC, 2015. Desarrollo de estrategias de adaptación al cambio climático en municipios vulnerables del noroeste de México. Publicación (

INECC, 2014. Elaboración de criterios y lineamientos en la gestión de riesgos ante el cambio climático. Publicación (

INECC, 2014. Estudio para la incorporación de nuevas variables en los escenarios de cambio climático para México utilizados en la 5a Comunicación Nacional. Publicación (

León, C., J.M. Martínez, J.M. Ramsey, F. Rosete, I. Espejel, C. Neri, C. N. Ibarra-Cerdeña y J-F. Pino Castillo., 2016. Análisis de riesgo y cambio climático soluciones técnicas para incorprarlas en el ordenamiento territorial. Serie Científica EPOMEX-UAC

Posadas, G., B.E. Vega, y R. Silva Casarín., 2013. Peligros Naturales en el Estado de Campeche, cuantificación y protección civil. Serie Científica EPOMEX-UAC

Rivera-Arriaga, E., L. Alpuche, M. Negrete, J.C. Nava, E. Lemus y C. Arriaga, 2012. Prorama de manejo costero integrado para el saneamiento de la bahía de San Francisco de Campeche. Serie Científica EPOMEX-UAC

Rivera Arriaga, E., J. Azuz, L. Alpuche y G.J. Villalobos, 2011. Cambio climático en México: un enfoque costero y marino. Serie Científica EPOMEX-UAC

Rivera-Arriaga, E., G. Palacio Aponte, G.J. Villalobos, R. Silva y P. Salles, 2002. Evaluación de daños en las zonas costeras de la Península de Yucatán por el Huracán Isidoro. Serie Científica EPOMEX-UAC

Rivera-Arriaga, E., G.J. Villalobos, I. Azuz y F. Rosado, 2004. El Manejo Costero en México. Serie Científica EPOMEX-UAC