Pandemic Response Blog

How Mexico City is Preparing for Inclusive Growth

Mexico City, already one of the largest cities in the world, could see as many as five million climate migrants added to its population by 2050. Recognizing this coming reality, the city’s government is preparing for its future today, taking bold actions to support migrant residents who have already arrived in the city as well as those who are bound to enter its communities in the coming months, years, and decades. 

Through early planning and local investments, Mexico City is demonstrating how in-migration can create positive outcomes in urban areas, including more vibrant communities and economies. 

With approximately 50 percent of Mexico City residents working in the informal economy, the local government estimated that half a million informal jobs were lost due to pandemic infection prevention measures, disproportionately impacting migrant residents who were already struggling to make ends meet in their new city. 

Recognizing displaced people’s desperate need for a lifeline, Mexico City became one of the first grantees of the Global Cities Fund for Migrants and Refugees: Inclusive Pandemic Response (GCF) and used the funds to catalyze a first-of-its-kind collaboration between its Secretariat of Labor and Employment Promotion (STyFE), Secretariat of Social Inclusion and Welfare (SIBISO), and Secretariat of Health (SEDESA) to deliver holistic solutions for marginalized residents affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“With support from the Mayors Migration Council, Mexico City expanded financial assistance to those who lost their income due to the impact of Covid-19 in the informal economy, the lifeblood of our city,” said Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum Pardo. “In doing so, we honored our city’s history of pacifism, solidarity, hospitality, and asylum.”

Ultimately, the city succeeded in providing direct financial assistance to over 450 migrants, refugees, returnees and other marginalized Mexicans to help address their immediate needs, while connecting hundreds more to programs aimed at building their long-term livelihoods in the city, including employment and healthcare services.

Based on this initial success, Mexico City is now expanding the institutional cooperation among the three secretariats to deliver training to city government personnel on human mobility, migrants’ rights, and legal frameworks, strengthening local officials’ capacity to effectively respond to challenges faced by future waves of migrants.

In a broader demonstration of its commitment to serve displaced residents, the city participated in our pilot of the 4Mi Cities data collection project with the Mixed Migration Centre to survey urban refugees’ and migrants’ experiences with the goal of further improving local policy and service provision.

When the project revealed gaps in migrant and refugee civic engagement in Mexico City, the city government pledged to create opportunities for migrant and refugee voices to influence city planning decisions through existing community engagement platforms. In addition, new guidelines will also mandate that Mexico City’s Secretariats specifically consider the needs and preferences of its refugee and migrant communities when designing and implementing new programs, using 4Mi Cities data as a resource.

While cities are attractive points of arrival for people displaced by the climate crisis and human conflict alike, unsustainable and unplanned growth can trap these people in cycles of inequality and marginalization. 

Mexico City’s dedication to foresight, planning, and inclusion sets a remarkable example of how city governments can make room for newcomers while also creating opportunities for them to contribute to the sustainable growth of their receiving communities.


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