2023 Mexico

Mexico 2023

Urban Transformations: Towards Resilient Cities

In 2023, the Annual Conference of the IGU Urban Geography Commission will be included in the celebration of a thematic conference of the IGU. This thematic conference was promoted by the Commission on Urban Geography to foster collaboration with other IGU commissions whose themes are directly related to the challenges facing our cities at multiple scales.

IGU Urban Geography Commission Annual Conference – from 18th to 25th August 2023


Six commissions of the International Geographical Union are participating in the organization of this thematic conference to be held in Mexico.
The objective is to lay the foundations for a collaboration that will generate new synergies of work and exchange of knowledge.

C20.15: Commission on Geography of Governance  

Chair: Carlos Nunes Silva. cs@campus.ul.pt

Website: https://sites.google.com/site/igugeogov/home?authuser=0

C20.17: Commission on Geography of Tourism, Leisure, and Global Change

Chair: Julie Wilson jwilson2@uoc.edu

Website: https://www.igutourism.org/

C20.18: Commission on GeoHeritage

Chair: Dongying Wei weidy@bnu.edu.cn

C20.30: Commission on Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Chair: Juan Manuel Delgado juanmanueldelgado@enriquesaguz

Website: http://www.ugi-latinoamerica.org

C20.37: Commission on Population Geography

Chair: Darren Smith Smith@lboro.ac.uk

Website: http://igu-popgeo.org/

C20.42 Urban Commission: Re-Thinking cities and the urban: from the global to the local

Chair: Maria Jose Piñeira-Mantiñán mariajose.pineira@usc.es

Website: https://www.igu-urban.org/


Manuel Suárez & Javier Delgado




With a view from both developed and developing contexts, the meeting of six IGU Commissions in Mexico will offer an excellent opportunity to talk about two main streams of knowledge – resilience and governance – in contemporary cities and other human settlements. The idea is to bring together distinct geographical specialties such as local and urban governance, history, demography, urban studies and ecology, to encourage common efforts towards new research on cities.

Resilience, recently adapted for cities by the UN-Habitat New Urban Agenda (2016) is an old concept that defines “the persistence of systems and of their ability to absorb change and disturbance and still maintain the same relationships between populations or state variables” (Holling, 1973: 14). Although it was at first interpreted as an alternative to a wasteful way of living, nowadays it has been substituted by an optimistic hope that cities may survive through their capacity to overcome risks, and that cities that could be viewed as “the problem” of global warming, could also be seen as the “solution”.

As for sustainability, there has been a legitimate fascination from diverse academic approaches that have fed urban studies. This issue was fuelled by the United Nation’s Environment Programme since the 1970’s and got a strong start with the Habitat I Declaration in Vancouver in 1977. Since then, its main concern has focused on the rapid and sprawling urban growth that threatens the natural economic and social life of cities and jeopardizes sustainability.

In Mexico, close to thirty cities and sites have been declared as heritage sites and many others as a mixture of natural and historical heritage, which has translated to urban public policies and other instruments to manage these historic districts. Local and Urban Governance is a concept with an important academic tradition in Geography, mainly since the 1980’s, well reflected in the establishment by the IGU of its first Study Group on this field in 1984, promoted to the status of Commission in 1988, focused on the analysis of the relations between territorial institutions and spatial processes.

Since cities have been largely threatened in different Braudelian historical times and are also facing the most recent risks issued from a predatory way of living, this meeting will confront experiences in a comparative global context. It will focus on specific and generic properties, the social, economic and environmental issues they pose, and evaluate the usefulness of political and societal solutions to their problems, while trying to answer the following questions: Are local and urban governance processes a key to understand the current and past urban conditions and dynamics? Can local and urban governance processes lead to policy changes towards sustainable urban development? Can resilient cities be a real response to a global threat? How can this be promoted through our six commissions in the 2023 meeting?

1- Cities as a resilient system: between processes and actions

Organizers: Javier Delgado, Manuel Suarez and Ana Valle, UNAM

Cities are drivers of transformational change but are also driven by it. The persistence of a city is often a succession of transformations while facing different shocks (natural phenomena, war, rapid growth). Urban transition processes have been faced through adaptation policies. Processes and actions offer lessons for the present issues of cities’ resilience due to their ability to adapt their conditions to the new challenges of global climate change. The level of study can be at a local scale for one city, as well as for urban systems at regional, national, or wider scales. 

2- Local and Urban Governance: lessons from the past and prospects for resilient and sustainable development in a time of global emergencies and transitions

Organizer: Carlos Nunes Silva, University of Lisbon

In the past, local government’s social, economic and environmental policies have been key drivers in urban transition processes and in the fight against extreme events in all regions of the world. This sub-thematic session, proposed by the IGU Commission on Geography of Governance, aims to examine and discuss lessons from the past, successes and failures in the field of local and urban governance, and prospects for the future, namely in what concerns the challenges associated with globalization, the Covid-19 pandemic, and climate change, as well as to explore innovative approaches on how local and urban government can fulfil its role in the implementation of the principles and goals of the current global sustainable development agendas, such as the 2030  Agenda and the New Urban Agenda.

Papers may address issues related to one of the following themes, or other issues related to other aspects of local and urban governance, focusing on lessons from the past and/or on innovative approaches:

    • Local government reforms and the impact on the implementation of sustainable development agendas

    • Local governance and the Covid-19 Pandemic: the policy responses and the post-pandemic recovery approaches

    • Local governance responses to Climate Emergency: strategies, plans, actions, outcomes

    • Citizen participation and co-creation in local and urban governance

3- Tourism as a driver of urban change in post-pandemic cities

Organizer: Julie Wilson, Open University of Catalonia (UOC).

Tourism has more than ever become a socio-political issue in many urban contexts. Contemporary urban change is shaped by many factors following the Covid-19 pandemic, not least by tourism, impacting upon places that must coexist with tourism activity; from shifting effects on property markets to issues of the right to the city, socio-spatial inequalities and community tensions. Furthermore, platform mediated tourism rentals and other manifestations of the platform economy can contribute to tourism’s dispersion into neighbourhoods without prior tourism trajectories. As a result, perceptions of over-tourism can cause local irritation, leading to a need to find new management solutions to regulate the growing flow of visitors. As such, an understanding of the dynamics of urban tourism, and the local responses it generates, is pivotal for understanding urban transformations in a broader context. This sub-theme of the conference explores this and other urban tourism-related dynamics, with a special emphasis on the potential for regenerative and resilience-thinking approaches to urban tourism conflicts and issues in a post-pandemic context. 

4- From urban geo-diversity to Geo-tourism: Themes, links and interactions

Organizer: Dongying Wei, Beijing Normal University

Urban geodiversity may simply refer to non-living nature within urban areas, but it can also be considered a factor influencing urban development. In addition, urban geo-diversity includes buildings, monuments, and other elements that are not necessarily part of geo-heritage but may represent an important component for promoting and communicating information about the Earth’s surface. Urban geodiversity is also an important source of tourism, and the National Geographic Society defines Geo-tourism as “tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place—its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents.”

The idea is that all elements of a place’s geographical character work together to create an experience that is richer than the sum of its parts, appealing to visitors with diverse interests. Geotourism builds on a destination’s “sense of place,” to emphasize the distinctiveness of its sites and benefit visitors and residents alike. Inherent in this approach is that Geotourism is a vehicle to foster Geoconservation and an understanding of Geoheritage.

The study aims to bring leading academic scientists, researchers and research scholars together to exchange and share their experiences and research results on all aspects of urban geodiversity and Geotourism from a local to an international level.

5- Migration and the Resilience of Cities

Organizer: Brenda Yeoh, National University of Singapore

Urbanward migrations have long been a compelling force in the growth and diversity of cities. In recent decades, migration has become even more visible as part of globalizing cities with substantial care deficits associated with population ageing or experiencing a shortage of industrial labour. At the same time, cities which are highly dependent on migrant labour are susceptible to disruption and stress in times of pandemic conditions, political emergencies and other global and local crises. This session invites papers focusing on urbanward migration and migrants’ productive and reproductive work in the city in both ordinary times and under conditions of crisis. We welcome papers focusing on transition, transformation, continuity and change on the following topics: (a) multiple pathways that migrants use to gain a place in the city, including labour migration, education migration and marriage migration in the light of changing border controls; (b) urban policies governing migrants’ integration (or non-integration) into the city; and (c) migrants’ roles in and contributions to the resilience of cities in ordinary times and under crisis.  

6- Public policies “up to down” and “bottom up” in the face of climate change

Organizers: Adrián Flores (Mexico), José Becerra (Venezuela) Juan Manuel Delgado (Peru)

Cities have faced different adaptation processes over time. Public policies against climate change formulated from international organizations such as UN-Habitat constitute a new challenge for cities. We propose to analyse the different types of social and environmental impacts of climate change on cities, in relation to public policies formulated from above (top down) and from below (bottom up) to face this global process. The central question of the panel is how is climate change used to advance global agendas at the urban level? To what extent are the solutions contrasted from below, with the solutions proposed from above?


  • February : abstract deadline extended to March 20th
  • April 2023: Sending acceptance of papers and opening of registration
  • June 2023: Program published
  • August 2023:  The meeting



Early career researchers are considered before PhD completion or within 5 years after.

The Commission provides grants to help defray the costs of young participation to the Conference. Please note that, due to limited availability of funds, the IGU Travel Grants provide only the contribution to registration.

In selecting applicants to receive awards, preference will be given to young or emerging scholars, in particular to those from developing countries. Please note that full participation in the conference, including the closing ceremony, is required.

The selection will be made according to an extended abstract of 5-6 pages (longer than the regular abstract). The application to the grant must be indicated in the registration form and in the beginning of the abstract form. The template of abstract is the same, but the abstract must be more consistent in order to better judge of the content


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Abstract submission

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Practical information