Environment, Development and Sustainability

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 365–388 | Cite as

Climate change vulnerability and resilience: current status and trends for Mexico

  • María E. IbarraránEmail author
  • Elizabeth L. Malone
  • Antoinette L. Brenkert


Climate change alters different localities on the planet in different ways. The impact on each region depends mainly on the degree of vulnerability that natural ecosystems and human-made infrastructure have to changes in climate and extreme meteorological events, as well as on the coping and adaptation capacity toward new environmental conditions. This study assesses the current resilience of Mexico and Mexican states to such changes, as well as how this resilience will look in the future. In recent studies (Moss et al. in Vulnerability to climate change: a quantitative approach. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Washington DC, 2001; Brenkert and Malone in Clim Change 72:57–102, 2005; Malone and Brenkert in Clim Change 91:451–476, 2008), the Vulnerability–Resilience Indicators Model (VRIM) is used to integrate a set of proxy variables that determine the resilience of a region to climate change. Resilience, or the ability of a region to respond to climate variations and natural events that result from climate change, is given by its adaptation and coping capacity and its sensitivity. On the one hand, the sensitivity of a region to climate change is assessed, emphasizing its infrastructure, food security, water resources, and the health of the population and regional ecosystems. On the other hand, coping and adaptation capacity is based on the availability of human resources, economic capacity, and environmental capacity. This paper presents two sets of results. First, we show the application of the VRIM to determine state-level resilience for Mexico, building the baseline that reflects the current status. The second part of the paper makes projections of resilience under socioeconomic and climate change and examines the varying sources and consequences of those changes. We used three tools to examine Mexico’s resilience in the face of climate change, i.e., the baseline calculations regarding resilience indices made by the VRIM, the projected short-term rates of socioeconomic change from the Boyd–Ibarrarán computable general equilibrium model, and rates of the IPCC-SRES scenario projections from the integrated assessment MiniCAM model. This allows us to have available change rates for VRIM variables through the end of the twenty-first century.


Climate change Mexico Model projections Adaptive capacity Resilience Vulnerability 


  1. Ávila García, P. (2007). Las cuencas hidrológicas de México y su vulnerabilidad socio ambiental por el agua, Sustentabilidad y Desarrollo ambiental. Agenda para el Desarrollo, 14, 133–161.Google Scholar
  2. Blaikie, P., Cannon, T., Davis, I., & Wisner, B. (1996). Vulnerabilidad: el Entorno Social, Político y Económico de los Desastres. LA RED/ITDG, Perú. Bogotá: Tercer Mundo Editores.Google Scholar
  3. Boyd, R., & Ibarrarán, M. E. (2009). Extreme climate events and adaptation: An exploratory analysis of drought in Mexico. Environmental and Development Economics, 14, 371–395. doi: 10.1017/S1355770X08004956. Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brenkert, A. L., & Malone, E. L. (2005). Modeling vulnerability and resilience to climate change: A case study of India and Indian States. Climatic Change, 72, 57–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brooks, N., Adger, W. N., & Kelly, P. M. (2005). The determinants of vulnerability and adaptive capacity at the national level and the implications for adaptation. Global Environmental Change, 15, 151–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Carstairs, V., & Morris, R. (1989). Deprivation, mortality and resource allocation. Community Medicine, 11, 364–372.Google Scholar
  7. Coombes, M., Raybould, S., Wong, C., & Openshaw, S. (1994). Towards an index of deprivation: A review of alternative approaches. London: UL Department of the Environment, HMSO.Google Scholar
  8. Cutter, S. L., Boruff, B. J., & Shirley, W. L. (2003). Social vulnerability to environmental hazards. Social Science Quarterly, 84(2), 242–261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Florescano, E. (1980). Una historia olvidada: La sequía en México. Nexos, 32, 9–18.Google Scholar
  10. Folke, C. (2006). Resilience: The emergence of a perspective for social-ecological analyses. Global Environmental Change, 16, 253–267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. García Acosta, V. (Ed.). (2005). Construcción Social de Riesgos y el Huracán Paulina. México: Publicaciones de la Casa Chata, CIESAS.Google Scholar
  12. Gardner, R. H., Roder, B., & Bergstrom, U. (1983). PRISM: A systematic method for determining the effect of parameter uncertainties on model predictions. Nykoping, Sweden: Studsvik Energiteknik AB, report/NW-83/555.Google Scholar
  13. Gay, C., Conde, C., Eakin, H., Seiler, R., Vinocur, M., Wehbe, M. (2006). Vulnerability and adaptation to climate change: The case of farmers in Mexico and Argentina. Final report project no. LA 29.
  14. Hewitt, K. (1995). Excluded perspectives in the social construction of disaster. International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters, 13, 317–339.Google Scholar
  15. Holling, C. S. (1973). Resilience and stability of ecological systems. Annual Review of Entomology, 6, 163–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Ibarrarán, M. E., & Boyd, R. (2006). Hacia el Futuro: Energy, economics and the environment in 21st century Mexico. The Netherlands: Springer.Google Scholar
  17. IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). (1991). Common methodology for assessing vulnerability to sea-level rise. Report of the coastal zone management subgroup, IPCC response strategies working group. The Hague: Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management.Google Scholar
  18. IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change]. (2007). Climate change 2007—The physical science basis. Working group I contribution to the fourth assessment report of the IPCC. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Kim, S. H., Edmonds, J., Lurz, J., Smith, S. J., & Wise, M. (2006). The Objects Framework for Integrated Assessment. The Energy Journal, Special Issue No. 2:2006, 63–91.Google Scholar
  20. Liverman, D. M. (1990). Drought and agriculture in Mexico: The case of Sonora and Puebla in 1970. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 80(1), 49–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Liverman, D. M. (1994). Vulnerability to global environmental change. In S. Cutter (Ed.), Environmental risks and hazards. USA: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  22. Luers, A. L., Lobell, D. B., Sklar, L. S., Addams, C. L., & Matson, P. A. (2003). A method for quantifying vulnerability, applied to the agricultural system of the Yaqui Valley, Mexico. Global Environmental Change, 13, 255–267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Malone, E. L., & Brenkert, A. L. (2008). Uncertainty in resilience to climate change in India and Indian States. Climatic Change, 91, 451–476.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Malone, E. L., & Brenkert, A. L. (2009). Vulnerability, sensitivity, and coping/adaptive capacity worldwide. In M. Ruth & M. E. Ibarraran (Eds.), The distributional effects of climate change and disasters: Concepts and cases. UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.Google Scholar
  25. McCarthy, J. J., Canziani, O. F., Leary, N. A., Dokken, D. J., & White, K. S. (Eds.). (2001). Climate change 2001: Impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Moss, R. H., Brenkert, A. L., & Malone, E. L. (2001). Vulnerability to climate change: A quantitative approach. PNNL-SA-33642. Washington DC: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.Google Scholar
  27. Nakicenovic, N., & Swart, R. (2000). Special report on emissions scenarios (SRES). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Parry, M., Canziani, O., & Palutikof, J. (2008). Climate change 2007: Impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Workgroup II contribution to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Parson, E. A., & Fisher-Vanden, K. (1997). Integrated assessment models of global climate change. Annual Review of Energy and the Environment, 22, 589–628.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Pratschke, J., & Haase, T. (2000). Structures of disadvantage: Spatial and theoretical aspects of index construction. In Fifth international conference on logic and methodology. Cologne, Germany, Oct 3–6, 2000.Google Scholar
  31. Reyes, M., & Flores, R. (2007). Causas y persistencias de la desigualdad en México 1984–2004. Documento de trabajo, Campo Estratégico de Pobreza y Exclusión (CEAPE). México: Universidad Iberoamericana Puebla.Google Scholar
  32. Rose, K. A., Smith, E. P., Gardner, R. H., Brenkert, A. L., & Bartell, S. M. (1991). Parameter sensitivities, Monte Carlo filtering, and model forecasting under uncertainty. Journal of Forecasting, 10, 117–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Sánchez-Rodriguez, R. (2002). Cities and global environmental change: Challenges and opportunities for a human dimension perspective. Newsletter of the international human dimensions programme on global environmental change, number 3/2002.Google Scholar
  34. Sánchez-Rodríguez, R., Seto, K. C., Simon, D., Solecki, W. D., Kraas, F., & Laumann, G. (2005). Science plan urbanization and global environmental change. International human dimensions programme on global environmental change, report no. 15.Google Scholar
  35. Satterthwaite, D., Ha, S., Pelling, M., Reid, H., & Romero Lankao, P. (2007). Adapting to climate change in urban areas: The possibilities and constraints in low- and middle-income nations. IIED-Human settlements dicussion paper series: Climate change and cities (Vol. 1). London: International Institute for Environment and Development.Google Scholar
  36. Townsend, P., Phillimore, P., & Beattie, A. (1988). Health and deprivation: Inequality and the north. London: Croom Helm.Google Scholar
  37. Vera Cortés, G. (2005). Vulnerabilidad social y expresiones del desastre en el distrito de Pochutla, Oaxaca. In V. García Acosta (Ed.), Construcción Social de Riesgos y el Huracán Paulina. México: Publicaciones de la Casa Chata, CIESAS.Google Scholar
  38. Villegas, C. (2005). Recuperando el paraíso perdido: el proceso de reconstrucción de la ciudad de Acapulco. In V. García Acosta (Ed.), Construcción Social de Riesgos y el Huracán Paulina. México: Publicaciones de la Casa Chata, CIESAS.Google Scholar
  39. Watson, R. T., Zinyowera, M. C., & Moss, R. H. (1996). Climate change 1995: Impacts, adaptations and mitigation of climate change: Scientific-technical analyses. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Watson, R. T., Zinyowera, M. C., Moss, R. H., & Dokken, D. J. (1998). The regional impacts of climate change, an assessment of vulnerability. A special report of IPCC working group II. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • María E. Ibarrarán
    • 1
    Email author
  • Elizabeth L. Malone
    • 2
  • Antoinette L. Brenkert
    • 2
  1. 1.Universidad Iberoamericana PueblaPueblaMexico
  2. 2.Joint Global Change Research InstituteCollege ParkUSA

Personalised recommendations