Urban-industrial Environmental Management

Programme description

Title: Urban-industrial Environmental Management in Mexico
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Mexico
Partner: Mexican Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT)
Overall term: 2010 to 2013


Mexico's strong economic growth in recent years has brought with it a multitude of environmental problems. Emissions of various sorts are polluting the soil, the water and the air. Almost 30 per cent of all municipal waste and 80 per cent of all hazardous waste are still being disposed of improperly; so far, only a small number of the country's numerous contaminated sites have been assessed, and only about 30 of them have actually been rehabilitated.

Although, compared with the rest of Latin America, Mexico has exemplary environmental legislation and well-developed environmental protection strategies, these are not being adequately implemented, especially at local level. This is due to a lack of technical and management capacities as well as to recurrent difficulties in the financing and sustainable operation of the necessary treatment facilities and disposal infrastructure. Moreover, there are too few incentives for the private sector to become involved in environmental management. Environmental awareness is only just beginning to take hold among the general public and political decision-makers alike.


Urban-industrial environmental management has become more effective, especially with respect to waste management and the reclamation of contaminated sites.


GIZ has been working with KfW Entwicklungsbank (financial cooperation) and integrated experts from the Centre for International Migration and Development (CIM) since January 2010 to support Mexico in finding sustainable solutions for urban-industrial environmental protection. This builds on the project Solid Waste and Contaminated Site Management, which GTZ (now GIZ) conducted in Mexico between 2005 and December 2009 on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The range of activities has now been extended to cover resource efficiency, reclamation of contaminated land, and environmental instruments. Another new inclusion is the cross-cutting theme of climate protection, which provides common ground for interaction with GIZ's energy programme in Mexico.

The programme is concentrating on three courses of action to achieve its objective:
  1. It is supporting municipalities, federal states, the environment ministry and other public institutions, as well as business associations and universities in exchanging information and sharing experiences by strengthening existing networks and hosting information visits.
  2. The performance of institutions at federal, state and municipality levels is being enhanced by supporting improvements to their organisational structures, operability and institutional capacities and through training.
  3. The programme is developing appropriate environmental management instruments at policy level. Here, GIZ is promoting the standardised collection and application of data, the SISCO brownfield information system, instruments for introducing an integrated waste management system based on economic factors, and innovative ideas such as material flow management.
Cooperation with the private sector also plays an important role, with development partnerships being established to promote innovative approaches to the management of waste and contaminated sites. As an emerging economy, Mexico also provides excellent scope for triangular cooperation projects. These can be used to transfer the experience gained to other countries in the region.

The programme is cooperating with, among others, the following local partners:

  • Mexican Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT)
  • National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change (INECC)
  • Environmental ministries of selected Mexican federal states as well as their national association (ANAAE)
  • Environmental administrations of selected Mexican municipalities
The programme module on Contaminated Sites Management and Reuse is being implemented by the consulting firm GOPA Consultants.

Results achieved so far

Some 590 community advisors have received training under the programme. These waste experts have encouraged 660 communities in nearly all of Mexico's federal states to improve their waste management.

In the federal state of Quintana Roo, for example, more than 100 industrial waste management schemes have been drawn up according to newly established guidelines. This planning instrument promotes better handling of industrial waste. Thanks to the targeted exchange of experts, the introduction of management schemes has also been underpinned in three additional federal states.

Recycling strategies for PET bottles and old electric appliances have been elaborated in cooperation with the Environment Ministry and the National Institute for Ecology and Climate Change. With the assistance of German experts, a first-ever set of ecobalances (environmental impact analyses) have been generated for these types of waste.

Introduction of the user-friendly SISCO brownfield information system has enabled the registration and prioritisation of contaminated sites on a hazard potential basis. The system is used to ascertain the respective need for action. The number of sites now registered in the SISCO system has increased by 85 percent. In 2013, Mexican experts helped Peru introduce an appropriately adapted system.