I am Alejandra Trejo and was recently appointed as RSA Ambassador to Mexico.

As an academician interested and engaged in urban and regional issues I am very much willing to contribute to the work of RSA in spreading the word about regional studies activities and promote research and academic activities in Mexico and Latin America. Currently I work as a full-time professor at the Centre for Demographic, Urban and Environmental Studies at El Colegio de Mexico. I am a regional and urban economist broadly, interested in analysing the metropolitan and regional economic dynamics in Mexico and the problems of economic territorial policy.

The economic transformations and structural adjustments undertaken since the 1980s in numerous countries of the world, including Mexico, has redefined the role of regions and cities. In particular, processes of privatization, deregulation, trade liberalization, economic integration, technological progress and decentralization have given rise to an unprecedented network of interdependencies among economic, political and social actors at different territorial scales. Following the new role and forms of sub-national territories, the economic analysis of countries has redefined its object of study and adopted new categories, concepts and approaches. The analysis of spatial structures and territorial economic performance, which has traditionally been approached from the perspective of countries, macro regions, states or cities, has increasingly directed its attention to new scales, one of them the metropolitan scale.

Metropolization denotes the demographic, spatial and functional growth of cities beyond their administrative borders and, in many cases, leads to the formation of large-scale urban centers characterized by their high complexity. In this process the city extends its influence and its spatial and functional boundaries. This is a phenomenon that has spread intensely in different countries, and has changed ways of understanding urban social, economic and political events. The internal complexity of cities, their territorial expansion and the hyperconcentration of functions has brought growing attention to the metropolitan phenomenon. Metropolitan areas are the framework that prevails in processes of urbanization and urban growth of many countries, extending its dominance through spaces where population and economic activities are concentrated. Metropolitan Areas can be viewed as the most active territorial component in economic terms, and therefore, as an engine of economic and social development.

Metropolitan areas are not static, but undergo continuous processes of evolution. Some metropolitan areas are economically dynamic, while other stagnate or decline. Metropolitan areas vary in terms of their specialisation and population dynamics. This asymmetric behaviour generates complexities in the urban system. For these reasons, the characteristics of metropolitan areas have strong implications for public policy.

The current 59 official Metropolitan Zones in Mexico occupy only 8 percent of the country’s surface, but are home to approximately 64 million people. This accounts for about 57 percent of the country’s population and 80 percent of the total urban population. These zones generate about three quarters of national production (SEDESOL, et al., 2012). In addition, the growing relevance of metropolitan areas derive from their relationship with other territorial scales. On the one hand, metropolitan areas are conceived under the logic of cities, and on the other, they combine the urban and regional question. Metropolitan areas are embedded in broad regions whose characteristics influence their dynamics, while metropolitan areas also impact the dynamics of such regions.

Regional policy faces contradictions due to the normative framework under which public action is planned and executed at the different territorial levels of government. Government frameworks do not conform to the territorial realities in which phenomena occur. There is therefore a need to understand social phenomena from a metropolitan-regional approach, since this level encompasses a broad a spectrum ranging from the urban scale to wider regions.

Alejandra Trejo

Reference:

SEDESOL, CONAPO, & INEGI. 2012. ‘Delimitación of metropolitan zones in Mexico, 2010’. Secretaría de Desarrollo Social, Consejo Nacional de Población e Instituto Nacional de Estadística, Geografía e Informática.