Sustainability and the Mexico City Lake Basin

Abstract

Sustainability and the Mexico City Lake Basin and Sustenibilidad en la Cuenca del Lago de la Ciudad de Mexico, both English and Spanish versions are available. Case A is in English and Case B is in Spanish. This teaching simulation illustrates the challenges of addressing complex environmental and health policy issues in a large metropolitan setting in an emerging economy. The setting for the simulation is Mexico City. The key elements of the problem are; the contamination of water for household and agricultural use, the increased cost of water for domestic, industrial, and agricultural uses and the threat to the integrity of the aquifer supplying water for the metropolitan area.

Students take on the perspective and resource endowments of the various stakeholders; politicians, middle class residents, squatters, environmentalists and small agricultural producers. International organizations provide the carrot of international funding to encourage the stakeholders to develop a collaborative plan for action from which all participants can agree.

This simulation has been used in both graduate and undergraduate courses in economics, environmental policy, public policy and in teacher training workshops in sustainable development in the US and abroad. This simulation was used at universities in Mexico and Nicaragua with graduate students in economics and public policy. In Mexico, the students were very familiar with the situation and found developing consensus challenging. In Nicaragua, the students found the simulation very useful as it mirrored many of the environmental policy problems surrounding Lake Managua, a large lake in the capital city.

In all of the classes, the most important idea that students come away with is an appreciation intertwining of disciplines, the diversity of perspectives of the stakeholders, the importance of developing strategic alliances.

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