Latin America Today

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Latin America Today

Mexico City

Mexico City is the metropolitan area that encompasses the country's capital, Mexico D.F. (the Federal District), and surrounding areas in the state of Mexico. Mexico City is among the 10 wealthiest cities of the world by gross domestic product. With a population of more than 20 million, the metropolitan area is also one of the worlds largest. Mexico City's population growth exploded when industrialization engulfed the country in the 1930s. In 1930, the city's population was just over 1 million. Population growth has slowed since the 1970s, but settlement has continued to advance into surrounding areas of the state of Mexico, with immigrants to the city establishing settlements on the fringes of the metropolitan area. The urban sprawl that accompanies population growth, coupled with the inability of efforts to keep up with worsening environmental problems overwhelm attempts by the city's governmental authorities to make the city greener. (Washabaugh, 50)

Although many political leaders and policy makers are beginning to address challenges to sustainable development in Mexico City, greening the city is not yet a comprehensive administrative endeavor. The report published by the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit on the country's 2010 Economic Program illustrates that Mexican policy makers are still compelled to focus on increasing the growth of the economy, productivity (especially in sectors that promise to help alleviate unemployment), and more immediate means of combating poverty. For Mexico City's policy makers, addressing such pressing concerns is also the primary agenda. Comprehensive planning, effective governance, and reconciling individual and collective interests in the megacity have always been major challenges, so dealing with the complexity of interrelated causes of environmental problems will be a daunting task for the municipal government. Nonetheless, some municipal government programs are already making progress in solving environmental problems as the movement to make the city greener gains momentum. Policy makers and planners recognize that demands are on the rise for solutions to environmental problems; green products and services; energy-efficient housing; more cost-effective, safe, and environmentally sustainable public transport systems; green jobs; and pleasant and enjoyable public spaces. (Washabaugh, 50)

Among the city's most pressing challenges are urban sprawl, an ever-increasing demand for energy, a serious water shortage, pollution, ineffective waste management, and an urban mobility crisis. Architects and engineering firms are addressing the need for more sustainable urban planning, green spaces, and sustainable buildings. City planners hope to convert up to 10 percent of the city's rooftops to “green roofs.” Innovative building designs can make buildings into carbon traps and enable more urban farming, water reclamation, and solar energy collection. Relatively simple construction plans can take advantage of prevailing wind patterns for ventilation and orientation that enables passive solar heating and cooling. (Kline, 34)

Tremendous quantities of waste are produced by commerce, industry, and the activities of daily life in the city. In an effort to deal with these problems, relatively simple municipal regulations have been implemented. A partial ban on circulation of vehicles that emit high levels of carbon dioxide, more regulation of informal transportation ...
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