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30.11.2021: UN Global Climate Action Award for Climate Leadership: What can we learn from the Metropolitan Area of Guadalajara, Mexico?

Yoali Sandoval


How can a metropolis of more than 5,2 million inhabitants become carbon neutral? Can stakeholders come together at a metropolitan level to act against climate change? The Metropolitan Area of Guadalajara is an example of what cooperation between municipalities can look like to respond to the climate crisis. This metropolitan area has set itself the goal to become carbon neutral by 2050. Furthermore, by 2030, Guadalajara wants to reduce 30% of its waste, increase 42% of its bike lanes and infrastructure and increase 90% of its sewage treatment.

Guadalajara’s PACmetro at the COP26

During the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow, the Metropolitan Area of Guadalajara, along with 10 other initiatives, was awarded a UN Global Climate Action Award in the category Climate Leadership for its Metropolitan Climate Action Plan. The coordination of 9 metropolitan municipalities and the Government of the State of Jalisco resulted in an agreement on how to tackle the climate crisis at the local level defining a roadmap with clear objectives, strategies, goals, indicators, and activities.

The Climate Metropolitan Action Plan or PACmetro is a plan for the metropolis, it is the commitment of the municipalities to respond to the climate emergency. The PACmetro is a very clear, precise, and technical document that portrays the climate challenges of the metropolis but also proposes solutions and commitments at the metropolitan level for its implementation and monitoring. The PACmetro is made of 3 general objectives, 8 strategies, 29 goals, 34 indicators and 136 activities. The commitments and climate goals are set for 2030, 2040 and 2050. The PACmetro is the result of 2,5 years of work of over 200 civil servants.

The three main objectives defined in the PACmetro are:

  1. A carbon neutral metropolis based on integrated waste management, mass and non-motorized mobility, efficient energy use and renewable energy supply,
  2. An inclusive metropolis that is sustainable and resilient to climate impacts,
  3. A coordinated, participatory, and inclusive metropolis with climate leadership.

Metropolitan Coordination for Climate Action

The metropolitan coordination of the second largest metropolis in Mexico, started over 14 years ago. It is an on-going process, that has taken a climate perspective over the past three years. But what motivated the municipalities to take action, were the effects of climate change on the livelihood of the inhabitants of the metropolis. For instance, unexpected floods, the rise in temperature, the rise of tropical diseases such as dengue fever and increased air pollution. More specifically, the turning point was the year 2017, when the city of Guadalajara joined the Climate Leadership Group “C40”. Additionally, it became clear to the municipalities that climate change increases social inequality. The more economically vulnerable communities are the ones that are the most affected by the effects of climate change.

One more document about climate action, another ambitious plan, but what makes the PACmetro so special? The PACmetro is the only document of its kind at the metropolitan level on such a big scale, it has a technical base for the actions to be taken and it sets specific goals with definite deadlines.

In the midst of all this, and when countries seem to be paralyzed in the negotiations of what to do to tackle climate change; the cities are the place to advance climate action, innovate and implement specific projects for waste management, improvement of public transportation, energetic efficiency, among others. Moreover, cities that are engaged on climate action should have a technical base for their activities, just like Guadalajara with its PACmetro has.

The motivation of the Metropolitan Area of Guadalajara to coordinate and to take action, was the lack of leadership at the national level. The municipalities of the Metropolitan Area of Guadalajara, along with the Government of the State of Jalisco decided to coordinate and lead on climate action on specific issues within their competencies and responsibilities.

The PACmetro as best practice: A replicable model?

According to Mario Silva, the Director of the IMEPLAN Jalisco, climate action must be specific: setting deadlines, defining quantities, projects, and specific activities to set a route of action, measurable and therefore achievable. The PACmetro is an example of this, but this is only the beginning of the road. Now the challenge is to implement the outlined plan. In this way, by connecting common issues between neighbouring municipalities, like Guadalajara did, climate action can be brought to the top of the agenda.

The Metropolitan Area of Guadalajara can serve as an example to other cities, big or small, to act against climate change. The PACmetro can be seen as a best practice where science-based specific goals, strategies and activities are the pathway to major changes on climate at the local level. If countries are not able to find agreements, let the cities be the centre for climate action. Starting locally, we need cities, which take action now!


Climate Action Plan of the Metropolitan Area of Guadalajara (PACmetro)| Mexico | UNFCCC

UN Awards Ceremony Celebrates Innovative Climate Solutions | UNFCCC

Small Cities — Big Impact - Nov 08, 2021 (wedonthavetime.org)

IG @onucambioclimatico, 2021. Interview of Lara Munoz to Mario Silva. https://www.instagram.com/tv/CV8TMJTMQF6ss3gQRhZUVUGOSugKMjpWxz_Vvs0/?utm_medium=copy_link Retrieved in November 2021.

Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Catedral_Guadalajara.jpg