1 Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (MEXICO)
2 Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (MEXICO)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2012 Proceedings
Publication year: 2012
Pages: 1616-1625
ISBN: 978-84-615-5563-5
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 6th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 5-7 March, 2012
Location: Valencia, Spain
In Mexico, sustainable development permeates the discourse of natural resource management and development policies; yet, the capacities for assessment, analysis and implementation are still lacking. While Mexico’s academic institutions are recognized for excellence in scientific inquiry and research, less attention has been paid regarding training of current generations to become front-runners in planning and decision-making. These capacities are paramount in public agencies where decisions about land-use planning, environmental change and conservation are made.

The urgent transformation required by society towards sustainability compels the development of new training and learning models. In this endeavour, we discuss an educational initiative that aims at developing a capacity building programme to create the competencies and expertise required for environmental policy and planning in the area entitled “ecological ordinance,” a key planning and policy-making tool for sustainable development, contained under the Mexican environmental legislation. It entails a collaborative planning process in which government actors and civil society agents examine the land-use dynamics together with the underlying quality and vulnerability of a region. Results are synthesized into a zoning map. Ideally, this process leads to consensus building for the implementation of sustainable policies and regulations through: (1) the establishment of legally binding agreements, and the creation of steering committees that include NGO and academia, and (2) the introduction of a methodological framework that is transparent, systematic and rigorous.

Ecological ordinance demands different levels of partakers’ involvement that require rather specialized skills, which are generally lacking in Mexico. Accordingly, the capacity building programme aims to develop the essential competencies needed for effective participation in an ecological ordinance process. The programme is organized into five levels to match the characteristics of the objective groups (citizens, sectorial representatives, authorities, and technical experts). Accordingly, Tier-1 focuses on the need of civil society to grasp the significance of ecological ordinance as a democratic policy-making tool. Tier-2 addresses the needs of the steering committee members and sectorial representatives, while Tier-3 tackles authorities. These levels are currently taught in a non-formal learning approach, through diverse tailor-made short courses. Tier-4 (focused on bachelor level) and Tier-5 (dedicated to postgraduate education) are designed to be implemented through a formal learning approach. To that end, a Master Programme in Sustainability Sciences is currently under development at the National Laboratory of Sustainability, National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

Both the formal and non-formal curricula are designed according to the Backward Design Method, a flexible framework that sets the learning outcomes before choosing the contents to be taught. These learning outcomes are being created following competencies (systemic, strategic, anticipative, collaborative and ethical) that transcend disciplinary borders, and are needed not only to acquire more knowledge, but also to enable the construction of a critical consciousness concerning sustainability.