CLIMATE CHANGE COMMUNICATION AND EDUCATION
2. Climate change education and training in the country
3. Climate change communication in the country
i. Climate change context
Mexico is organized as a federation of 31 States and Mexico City. Most climate change communication and education documents are organized on a national level. This country profile provides information on Mexico’s approach to mainstreaming climate change communication and education on the national level and gives examples of state-level initiatives only when relevant and reported by Mexico in its official communications.
Mexico, located between the tropics and subtropics, has a diverse climate and is highly vulnerable to climate change. Mexico covers a total surface area of 1,964,375 km2, of which 12% is protected. According to the World Bank, the country has a population of 130 million people (2021), and annual population growth of 1.1%. The World Bank states that Mexico is highly exposed to hydro-meteorological events such as tropical cyclones. Mexico’s 6th National Communication (2018) notes droughts accompanied by forest fires that affect agriculture, livestock, and the economy during the dry season. In the fall and winter, low temperatures bring cold fronts and icy waves that generate different meteorological effects.
Mexico is the second-largest economy in Latin America. It is a medium emitting country, according to the Carbon Atlas, emitting 2.8 t CO2 per person in 2020. Its highest emissions come from agriculture (47%), waste handling (30%), and energy (including transportation; 22%).
Mexico joined the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as a Non-Annex I country in 1992, then signed and ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 2000, the Doha Amendment in 2014, and the Paris Agreement in 2016. In 2020, Mexico ratified the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Participation Justice and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean better known as the Escazú Agreement, that secures access to environmental information, directly increasing climate change awareness, education, capacity building, and public cooperation.
The city of Monterrey became the first Mexican city to declare a climate emergency, making it public at the Conference of the Parties 26 (2021). The governor committed Monterrey to stop climate change by immediate actions such as fundraising projects, reforestation, restructuring public spaces, waste management, and promoting clean energies.
Mexico continuously considers equity and diversity in climate change approaches, prioritizing the most vulnerable people. According to Mexico’s 6th National Communication, the country actively promotes incorporation of gender issues in climate change debates and the active participation of Indigenous peoples against climate change since the Cancun Agreement (2011).
ii. Relevant government agencies
Mexico has a comprehensive government system to fight climate change. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs houses the Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) Focal Point. The Ministry is the main contact for international relations and connects different government departments to the world.
In collaboration with Biodiversity Finance, a United Nations Development Programme managed globally, the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit and the Ministry of Environment manage the Climate Change Fund. The Ministry of Finance and Public Credit is also responsible for managing sustainable projects that focus on climate change mitigation.
The Federal Congress supports climate change mitigation, and each state government and the municipalities work together. Mexico has a National Climate Change System, established by the General Climate Change Law (2012) to promote synergies to jointly address the vulnerability and risks of the country and establish priority actions for mitigation and adaptation to climate change. The System is thus a permanent mechanism for competition, communication, collaboration, coordination, and consultation on national climate change, as an overarching coordinator for climate change efforts in Mexico.
The National Climate Change System is part of the Inter-Secretarial Commission on Climate Change. This Commission is formed of 14 government secretariats, including the Secretariat of Public Education and the Climate Change Council, a permanent consulting body of the Commission. The Council has multiple responsibilities, including approval of the National Climate Change Strategies and the National Determined Contributions. The Council 1) coordinates actions of the units and entities of the federal public administration in matters of climate change; 2) formulates and implements national policies for mitigation and adaptation to climate change; and 3) incorporates policies into corresponding sectoral programs and actions. The Council is made up of members from the social, private, and academic sectors with recognized experience in climate change.
The National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change (previously the National Institute of Ecology) supports the National Climate Change System. The Institute is responsible for researching technical and ecological information related to climate change to support policy-making. It develops Mexico’s National Communications to the UNFCCC, together with the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT).
The Climate Change Information System was also established under the General Climate Change Law (Article 76; 2012) and is chaired by the National Institute of Statistics and Geography. The Information System is in charge of supplying technical information about climate change matters to the public and government bodies.
SEMARNAT is responsible for planning, executing, and coordinating environmental policies, including policies on climate change. It is the main government agency responsible for climate change. SEMARNAT works together with the Secretariat of Public Education to establish environmental education to reach most Mexican citizens.
The Meteorological Services Agency is part of SEMARNAT. The Agency provides access to climate change data and supports Mexico’s climate change system.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development focuses on sustainable agriculture and publishes articles on climate change on its website.
The Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection is a decentralized body under SEMARNAT that regulates and increases levels of compliance with environmental regulations, to contribute to sustainable development and enforcement of future environmental laws. The Attorney also focuses on enhancing the Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) element of public participation and environmental justice and on preventing climate change impacts.
Education and communication
The Secretariat of Public Education is in charge of Mexico’s education system. From pre-primary school to higher education, the Secretariat aims to integrate all social groups into the education system, such as Indigenous peoples, and implements education materials and plans for all. The Secretariat works with many other government agencies to promote climate change education and related topics in the country.
The National Council for Educational Development (CONAFE) coordinates with the Secretary of Urban Development and Environment of the state governments to combat global warming by promoting reforestation culture for children in rural communities. The Inclusive CONAFE program allows the collaboration of these two organizations in organizing education related to the significance of the environment and in paying heed to the Indigenous peoples of Mexico.
Attached to the Secretariat of Public Education, the General Directorate of Indigenous, Intercultural, and Bilingual Education was created in 1978 to recognize ethnic, cultural, and linguistic diversity. It promotes an inclusive, egalitarian, and quality education in Mexico. The Directorate also enhances the development of education programs in Indigenous languages.
Established in 1994 by SEMARNAT, the Education and Training Center for Sustainable Development provides training and education on matters related to sustainable development, including climate change. Itis responsible for integrating environmental education into all levels of the national education system, including formal and non-formal education. The Center engages in activities related to promoting school environmental management and developing education materials for schools.
The National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity functions under SEMARNAT to promote and engage in activities that increase knowledge of biological diversity, conservation, and sustainable use. The Commission mainly focuses on promoting research and develops human capacity in biodiversity informatics. Information, and knowledge that is accessible to all of society.
The General Directorate of Continuous Training for Teachers and Managers implements guidelines and policies for professional personnel in primary education. It aims for steady performance improvement on national and global challenges.
The National Institute for Educational Evaluation was abolished in 2019, creating the National Commission for the Continuous Improvement of Education which assesses the national education system’s quality, performance, and results, aiming to constantly improve basic education, upper secondary, inclusive and adult education. The commission develops researching, evaluations, indicators, guidelines, among others that benefit the improvement of the educational objectives. Some data collected by the Institute is on climate change communication and education.
The National Institute of Transparency, Access to Information and Protection of Personal Data guarantees that all public bodies in Mexico offer public information at citizens’ requests.
Various non-governmental and civil society organizations are involved in climate change education in Mexico, often supported by the government. For example, a group of professors studying climate change formed the National Academy of Environmental Education, which strengthens research projects, academic programs, plans, and training structures related to environmental education and climate change. Since late 2018 (when Mexico’s administration and environmental education changed), Educación Ambiental México, a network of 15 environmental non-governmental organizations that includes EarthxMexico, Telar Social, and Fundación EDUCA, collaborate in designing and implementing changes across the country’s school systems. Another example is the Center for Environmental Information and Communication of North America, which promotes climate change education through provision of education materials tailored to school students and teachers in training.
Further, the nonprofit association Mario Molina Center is committed to cooperate on environmental protection, energy management and climate change prevention, boosting sustainable development. The association links scientific knowledge with national policies, makes research in the field, collaborates in policy-making, works parallel to universities, public institutions, among others, including the development of climate change education initiatives and teacher training.
iii. Relevant laws, policies, and plans
The Government of Mexico implemented the General Climate Change Law in 2012. It is the main legal framework to coordinate, oversee, and plan national policies for mitigating and adapting to climate change. The Law has been updated multiple times, most recently in 2018, to comply with the Paris Agreement and transparency on climate change actions that facilitate the evaluation and communication of national progress. The Law supports implementation of climate change education, awareness campaigns, sustainable consumption, and adaptation–mitigation strategies as government authorities and municipalities work together to mainstream climate change discussions in government institutions.
The General Climate Change Law empowers the National Climate Change Strategy (2013), establishing medium- to long-term strategies. The Strategy integrates three focused work areas: national climate change policies, adaptation to effects of climate change, and low-emission development (mitigation). The Strategy implements policies for a sequence of projected improvements over the next 10, 20, and 40 years. It focuses on environmental education to create environmental awareness in current and future generations, to decrease vulnerability and increase resilience against climate change. The Strategy aims to strengthen climate change communication and education and in general aims to promote the development of a climate-conscious culture through communication and education.
The Special Climate Change Program (2021–2024) for short-term strategies is also empowered by the General Climate Change Law. SEMARNAT launched the Program based on guidelines from the National Development Plan 2019–2024. The Program seeks better collaboration in sectoral plans from different secretariats. The primary purposes of the Program are to reduce climate change vulnerability of the population, protect biodiversity and the productive sector, reduce greenhouse gasses, and strengthen political coordination of climate change actions. Climate change communication and education are part of the Program.
The Sectoral Program of Environment and Natural Resources 2020–2024 brings new initiatives to update and strengthen climate change strategies related to climate change monitoring, communication, and education. It also promotes concordance among the institutions in power to achieve targets.
Education and communication
Education in Mexico is guaranteed by the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States (1917), making the State responsible for mandatory education until upper secondary school. The Constitution was amended in 2019 to integrate understanding and respect for the environment as a basic requirement of education. Environmental protection is now a core element of the Mexican curriculum.
The General Education Law (1993) guarantees the legal framework for climate change education, prioritizing the inclusion of environmental science, sustainable development, environmental respect, and prevention of climate change in formal education (Article 7). The Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) submission of 2020 notes that
In summer 2019, the Ministry of Education (SEP), with the support of the Senate, led a constitutional reform of article 3rd on Education, in order to include sustainable development into the national curricula requirements. This was followed by reforms in the secondary laws, namely the General Education Law – articles 13, 15, 16 and 27 -, which now require educational programs aimed to develop capacities on resource management, sustainable development and climate resilience. It also requires SEP to revise all education programs and related material in order to guarantee the implementation of the law. (p.1).
Under a parliamentary senators’ initiative and international and national considerations, commitments, and factors, the Project Decree Reforming Several Provisions of the General Law of Education Regarding the Environment and Climate Change (2020) modified or added new guidelines to the General Education Law. The Decree seeks to strengthen the legislation to empower citizens and promote sustainable development, environmental protection, and awareness raising on climate change, as well as mitigation and adaptation measures to better address climate change.
The New General Education Law (2019) refers to climate change in at least four places. In Article 15, Alinea VIII (aims of education); Article 16, Alinea V (criteria of education); and Article 30, Alinea XVI and XVII (content of curricula). Article 15 pertains to “inculcat[ing] respect for nature, through resilience to climate change” (p. 51). Article 16 specifically focuses on climate change reduction and prevention. These principles are also found in specific legislation of Mexican states, including in Tamaulipas (Article 8, Alinea XIII) and in Mexico City with the reform of the Federal District Education Law. The General Law for Teachers (2018) refers to the General Climate Change Law .
The General Higher Education Law (2021) ensures the government’s obligation to guarantee the right to higher education. The Law establishes coordination, evaluation, financing, mainstreaming, and regulation of higher education’s public, social, and private participation.
In Mexico, the National Curriculum Framework for Basic Education (2011) establishes the guidelines for learning processes, curriculum, graduate profiles, and expected learning of primary school students. Use of the Framework is mandatory for schools. It highlights equality of access to education and considers environmental education to be of social relevance. In August 2022 the New National Curriculum Framework for Basic Education (2022) was still at the stage of debate and consultation to be properly implemented in the Mexican education system. The New Framework aims to include guidelines to enhance and strengthen the skills and knowledge that learners will develop and put into practice for a better country and world. The New Framework specifies education levels for better planning, cognitive learning, and capacity building. It aims to enhance ways to reflect, understand, and develop thinking criteria to find solutions to global problems such as climate change and environmental protection. For instance, after a cognitive and action learning process, basic education graduates are encouraged to participate in environmental protection and actions for a society more resilient to climate change.
The New Curriculum for the Upper Secondary Education (2017) was designed in consideration of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This Curriculum focuses on training students with knowledge and skills that allow them to develop in their studies, work, and life. It is outcome-oriented and includes references to climate change.
The Education Sectoral Program (2020–2024) evaluated gaps in the education sector and established six priority objectives to address them: 1) guarantee access to education to everyone; 2) guarantee a quality education; 3) guarantee teaching evaluation, facility improvements; 4) promotion of healthy lifestyles; 5) enhance effective participation of all government sectors; and 6) the people to improve the education system.
Mexico City took an important step in environmental education in 2019 after reforming federal district education legislation, setting the obligation for public schools to include and provide environmental education as part of their education curriculum. The initiative works in parallel to the guidelines and structures established by the Secretariat of Public Education. Legislators and stakeholders think that “Environmental education is necessary and essential to achieve the change that we all want and future generations deserve.” (n.p)
iv. Terminology used for Climate Change Education and Communication
Climate change communication and education are included in different terms and concepts in Mexico, primarily ‘environmental education,’ ‘climate culture,’ and ‘sustainable development.’ The government promotes the term education for sustainable development, although many environmental educators use the concept of sustainability to avoid the notion of development.
For example, the National Climate Change Strategy (2013) mentions the importance of knowledge acquisition as key to sustainable development protection.
An issue of particular importance in the fight against climate change is the generation of formal knowledge and its application in techniques, procedures, and technologies through the use of science, technological innovation, and education to protect and maintain sustainable development. (p. 24)
Mexico aims to grow a ‘climate culture’ in society. The Special Climate Change Program (2021) defines this as “Disseminate and communicate knowledge and contribute to the population’s education and awareness, but in an inclusive way, in terms of climate change, to raise social awareness and the development of a climate culture.” (p. 40)
The 6th National Communication (2018) mentions the challenge of mainstreaming climate change and environmental dimensions in all study plans. Climate change is included in environmental education to prevent future climate events.
Environmental education must be a transversal axis to promote knowledge, values, attitudes, and skills so that students participate in the analysis, prevention, and reduction of environmental problems and favor the improvement of the quality of life of present future generations. (p. 371)
The Nationally Determined Contributions (Updated, 2020) mentions education for climate change and includes Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) to implement in Mexico.
The NDC strengthens the means of implementation to meet the development objectives of science and technology, promotion of research, education, training, social awareness, access to information, and citizen participation in a framework of constant technological innovation to achieve a territorialization and full ownership of the shares adaptation and mitigation. (p. 10)
Some free textbooks in public education discuss climate change, sustainable development, and global warming, especially in Natural Science. For example, the 6thGrade Natural Science textbook includes a section called ‘Relationship of air pollution with global warming and climate change’ (p. 72) where other terms on climate change communication and education can be found.
In Mexico, the term ‘climate change communication and education’ is increasingly used. The 6th National Communication (2018) mentions the ambitious implementation of Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) in public education: “Since 2011, the free textbooks of the Secretariat of Public Education (SEP) address issues related to climate change in primary education.” (p. 18)
v. Budget for climate change education and communication
Mexico’s 2022 Budget allocated ~US$ 8.7 million (MXN 176 million) to the National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change. The budget gives a detailed description of spending on climate change, a total of US$ 3.3 billion (MXN 67 billion). US$ 4.4 million (MXN 90 million) is allocated for public climate change education.
The General Climate Change Law’s Article 80 highlights the Climate Change Fund. This financial body collects and manages public, private, and international monetary resources allocated to climate change purposes. According to the 6th National Communication, the Fund approved US$ 3.79 million (MXN 68 million) for projects between 2013 and 2018. Eleven projects, including some education projects, were implemented.
According to Article 119 of the General Education Law (2019), the annual budget for public education may not be less than the equivalent of 8% of gross domestic product. This is a steep increase, as the government previously designated lower amounts. In 2018, Mexico allocated 4.25% of gross domestic product, as reported by the World Bank. How much of this spending is for climate change education is not specified.
Mexico’s Nationally Determined Contributions (Updated, 2020) highlight the need to develop better and more comprehensive financing possibilities. The Contributions call for the creation of a new National Climate Change Strategy. The National Climate Change Strategy (2013) aims to “put in place the necessary mechanisms to make the Climate Change Fund an effective and efficient platform for channeling resources from other funds, including international funds.” (p. 28).
The Special Climate Change Program (2021–2024) has a possible source of resources in the Green Climate Fund “through which financial resource mobilization is sought through the Accredited Entities to promote a paradigm shift toward low-carbon and climate-resilient development trajectories.” (p. 21).
i. Climate change in pre-primary, primary, and secondary education
Mexico has mandatory public education up to the last year of secondary school, depending on federal and local laws. The Political Constitution of the United Mexican States (1917) protects this right to education through Article 3. The Education Law identifies the content of environmental education. Article 30, for instance, includes study plans and programs that integrate environmental education for sustainability that covers concepts embedded in environmental sciences and sustainable development.
Over 20% of Mexicans are Indigenous and around 6% speak Indigenous languages. Mexico aims for education equity through the General Directorate of Indigenous, Intercultural, and Bilingual Education and the development of books in Indigenous languages that include climate change content.
In 2017, Mexico adopted a New Educational Model that includes an autonomy perspective, aiming to provide more autonomy to schools by adapting education material to specific features, environment, and students’ needs.
The Secretariat of Public Education and the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) collaborate through the SEMARNAT-SEP Collaboration Agreement (2021) to improve environmental and climate change education, including the learning process for teachers. The Agreement aims to include environmental dimensions in curricula, promote forestry education projects in schools, and strengthen school environmental management, among other initiatives. The collaboration will offer sources for current national and international materials to keep teachers and schools updated on climate change matters.
In their early years, most children at pre-primary schools learn about climate change through subjects such as ‘exploring the world,’ where they can develop capacities to participate in environmental protection activities and awareness.
According to the Secretariat of Public Education, the National Curriculum Framework for Basic Education (2011) establishes curricular standards. It aims to educate citizens with life skills relevant to national and global demands. The Framework provides guidance to education programs and highlights the need to implement ways to strengthen environmental education, although it does not say how. Climate change topics are developed in free primary school textbooks, especially in Grades 5 and 6. Climate change is mentioned explicitly in Natural Science and Geography, along with terms such as energy use, air pollution, global warming, risks, and vulnerability. Students learn about climate change primarily via cognitive knowledge acquisition. They are also encouraged to adjust their behavior to minimize climate change vulnerability, highlighting Mexico’s ecological footprint to raise awareness. In those books, Mexico draws on notions of climate justice, highlighting Mexico’s role in emissions.
In Mexico, free textbooks currently used for lower secondary education also develop climate change education in Physics, Biology, and Chemistry. According to the 6th National Communication (2018), courses are designed to raise awareness about human actions on the environment and propose solutions for the future.
The New Curriculum for the Upper Secondary Education (2017) includes objectives to shape capable citizens for higher studies and work, and to raise awareness about national and global situations. The target of mainstreaming environmental education and sustainable development into the New Curriculum for Upper Secondary Education is essential. The Curriculum is structured across outcomes and students are, for example, encouraged to learn about the negative impacts of their behaviors on the world and how they can change their behaviors. In Environmental Protection, an upper secondary student should be prepared to “understand the importance of sustainability and take a proactive attitude to find solutions. Think globally and act locally. Assess the social and environmental impact of innovations and scientific advances.” (p. 25). The New Curriculum was guided by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs; Agenda 2030) to establish the main content of study programs. Natural Science subjects, such as Ecology, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics, encourage climate change topics on causes, prevention, and solutions. Social Science subjects develop content about contemporary issues. They encourage students to analyze current and vital societal components such as citizen participation, human rights, inequality, sustainable development, and the environment with a global vision of growing social responsibility in society and involving citizens in climate justice. A description of the types of climate change-related keywords discussed in the curricula may be found in the MECCE Project Monitoring section of this profile.
The Education Sectoral Program (2020–2024) encourages actions to care for and preserve the environment in schools, including saving and efficiently using water and energy, waste management, sustainable consumption, and collective action for sustainability.
The Center for Education and Training for Sustainable Development has supported environmental education for many years. One of its projects is the Green School, which aims for educational communities to implement education actions to address environmental impacts and mitigate and adapt to climate change, to build an environmentally responsible community.
The North America Environmental Information and Communication Center offers education initiatives including summer camps and school visits for students at primary school. Topics include urban biodiversity, plastic use, energy, responsible consumption, urban agriculture, and climate change.
According to the 6th National Communication (2018), in addition to education topics in national curricula, individual states create education content on climate change related to the importance of addressing local circumstances. The Communication also states that climate change has been included in the national education system since 2011.
ii. Climate change in teacher training and teaching resources
SEMARNAT published its 3rd Work Report (2020–2021), which highlights teacher training, climate change workshops, and environmental education seminars for lecturers. Most activities aim to mainstream the national climate change frameworks and strengthen climate change values. Other institutions that collaborate on annual activities with SEMARNAT are the National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change, the Center for Education and Training for Sustainable Development, and UNICEF.
Attached to the Secretariat of Public Education, the General Directorate of Continuous Training for Teachers and Managers is responsible for providing and guiding training in professional development of docents, with updated material to promote continuous learning. Recently the Directorate launched the National Strategy for Continuous Training (2021), which mentions environmental protection in the training section on Civic and Ethical Training and Healthy Life. Climate change is not explicitly mentioned.
Under the constitutional premise that teachers are fundamental agents of the education process, to guarantee an education of excellence and follow Mexican guidelines, the Rules of Operation of the Program for the Professional Development of Teachers (2021) was launched. The Program seeks to strengthen teacher development with continuous training. The Program also follows the SDGs, including objectives on quality education, gender equality, and climate change. The Program aims to train people committed to society, respectful of the environment, and focused on sustainability.
The National Pedagogical University aims to educate future and current teachers in Mexico, offering research programs, postgraduate training, and updated materials focusing on the teaching field. The University offers a Master’s program in environmental education with a global vision of prevention, adaptation, and mitigation of environmental problems. The Environmental Education for Sustainability research program is offered for current pedagogy students interested in developing related subjects, including Environmental Education for Sustainability in the Face of Climate Change.
Another body that supports teacher training in Mexico is the National Academy of Environmental Education, a group of environmental professors and researchers, mainly from public universities who offer national congresses, forums, workshops, and other activities to implement, encourage, and strengthen environmental education and research.
Most lecturers and teachers can easily access didactic information that the Secretariat of Public Education and its attached bodies offer. For example, Click for Teachers offers national curricula, a digital library, updates, textbooks, and training courses. Their course Introduction to Climate Change aims to train teachers about causes, consequences, and solutions to this global challenge.
The Digital Library on the Secretariat of Public Education website offers guidelines for teaching, to help teachers bring new fields of study to their classrooms. Among those digital books, The Sustainability (2016) builds teachers’ knowledge of global matters such as climate change to transmit to new generations.
Thanks to the Mario Molina Center, professors can develop climate change knowledge by the materials and research the center develops. The teachers can have free access to digital information such as the Introduction to Climate Change, Manual for the Docents. In addition, climate change training courses have taken place as well.
Among other initiatives, the Office for Climate Education launched a 5-year pilot project, Latin America for Climate Education, which aims to promote climate change education in Latin America through three goals: professional development of teachers, community creation, and local adaptation of pedagogical resources. The focus is primarily for primary and secondary teachers, and trainers and professors.
Another offering for teacher training on climate change is the Course-Workshop on Climate Change and Water Resources, presented by the North America Environmental Information and Communication Center. The training develops general climate change subjects and didactic material that teachers can use in the future.
iii. Climate change in higher education
The General Climate Change Law (2012) empowers Mexico’s federal cabinet to work together with higher education bodies to enhance scientific, technological, and innovation capacity in sustainable development, environmental, and climate change matters.
The General Higher Education Law (2021) mandates that the higher education sector create and disseminate knowledge to generate national and international climate change solutions, preserve the environment, and promote Mexico’s sustainable development. The Law promotes an integral human development of the student in the construction of knowledge, based on aspects such as “Respect and care for the environment, with the constant orientation toward sustainability, to understand and assimilate the interrelation of nature with social issues and to guarantee their preservation and promote sustainable lifestyles” (Article 7).
Different higher education institutions alongside Mexico have formed the National Network of Institutional Environmental Programs for Sustainability since 2005. The network aims to boost academic cooperation, in terms of environment and sustainability. The Southeastern region has been very active and promoted workshops, training, awareness raising initiatives, risk management, climate change, the strengthening of environmental topics in the curricula, among others.
Some universities offer postgraduate programs in climate change subjects. For example, the Metropolitan Autonomous University offers a Master’s degree in Energy and Environment, aiming to form professionals and researchers who can address energy use and environmental problems.
The CIDS - Research Center for Sustainable Development is an academic institution that promotes scientific and technological research for sustainable development. The Center offers diplomas in sustainability-related areas such as sustainable tourism, education, and economy. The Center’s values include social and environmental responsibility.
In 2000, the Mexican Consortium of Higher Education Institutions for Sustainability (Complexus) was created, a group of universities that has since promoted several projects, notably that of indicators of sustainability in higher education institutions
In 2019, a collaboration between the German Cooperative of International Collaboration of Mexico, the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and the Technological and Higher Studies Institute of Monterrey formed the Sustainable Development Solutions Network of Mexico. They aim to collaborate nationally and worldwide with scientific and technological expertise for sustainable development, including environmental initiatives in universities that involve climate change. Other universities are joining the Network.
The National Autonomous University of Mexico is committed to supporting the SDGs through research projects, education programs, social service programs, and sustainable development actions that involve higher education students. UNAM and the SDGs highlights almost 65,000 academic activities related to SDG 13: Climate Action.
The integration of climate change education at different levels in Mexico is reflected in student initiatives. For example, the University Network on Climate Change is a multidisciplinary space supported by the National Autonomous University of Mexico, where students learn and expand their knowledge about climate change. A primary purpose is collaborating in learning and awareness on climate change.
According to the 6th National Communication, climate change topics are included in the curricula of programs such as a degree in sustainable management of coastal zones, a specialization in environmental education, environmental science degrees, and Biology at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
iv. Climate change in training and adult learning
Mainstreaming and capacity building for climate change in public institutions is based on the General Climate Change Law (2013), which charges municipalities with “promoting the strengthening of institutional and sectoral capacities for mitigation and adaptation” (Article 9).
Capacity building for climate change is a recurring topic in the National Climate Change Strategy (2013) and the Special Climate Change Program (2021–2024). Policies call for more capacity building for government employees on topics related to climate change.
A critical component of the Center for Education and Training for Sustainable Development‘s work is the Environmental Education and Culture Centers, which are public centers such as zoos, parks, and museums that promote environmental education to citizens. According to the 6th National Communication, the Center for Education has certificated around 400 Environmental Education and Culture Centers. Nine of them work in climate change matters, facilitating access to education, scientific information, and rules.
The Mexican government commits to spreading climate change awareness through institutional efforts. The 6th National Communication (2018) highlights climate change training activities for public servants and the public, such as online courses, diplomas, videos, conferences, and seminars.
Some government institutions have increased initiatives to train their personnel on environmental issues, including climate change. According to the 6th National Communication, activities include talks, conferences, training, and consultations on energy use, climate change impacts, reforestation, and other topics.
i. Climate change and public awareness
The Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) is a central institution collaborating directly and indirectly with decentralized bodies on climate change. SEMARNAT implements activities to reach citizens, such as Environment: Alternatives Toward Sustainable Development, regularly scheduled talks or forums via Facebook. These aim to generate better knowledge of current situations and raise awareness to adapt and mitigate climate change matters.
According to Mexico’s Mexico’s 2020 Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) submission, the first national survey of public opinion on public awareness of climate change was conducted in 2017. Results were that 89% of people surveyed have heard about climate change but only 39% understand climate change on a deeper level. Seven out of 10 people believe that climate change is affecting Mexico’s population, but only 3 out of 10 people feel that it is everybody’s responsibility to counter climate change. People with the most schooling and younger people identified climate change as a priority in Mexico. The 6th National Communication (2018) provides comprehensive results and a detailed review.
The General Directorate of Educational Television and the National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change broadcast the series El Cambio Climático Nos Toca (Climate Change Touches Us) in 2020. The series encompasses modules for girls, boys, youth, and adolescents to increase knowledge of the environment and transform the collective consciousness to counter climate change. The series focuses on education through values, awareness, knowledge, and changes in behavior and attitudes that increase climate resilience. Topics covered include biodiversity, cities, land, habits, inequality, energy, and their relationship with climate change.
Planet Cinema is another initiative to capture public interest, offering environmental movies, films, outdoor film performances, concerts, workshops, and other activities since 2009, bringing environmental communication and education to raise awareness among the public. The Cinema takes place annually in the spring in Cuernavaca, Mexico, and scheduled activities are announced on their social media pages.
National campaigns are developed continuously by the National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change, such as I change, you change, everything changes. Climate change touches us (2017). This campaign was disseminated through traditional media and environmental awareness materials to highlight the importance of addressing climate change. At the time of this review, the project’s status was unavailable.
The 6th National Communication highlights actions to disseminate awareness about wetlands protection and pollution, and actions to address climate change by the National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change and others.
ii. Climate change and public access to information
In Mexico, the National Institute of Transparency, Access to Information and Protection of Personal Data guarantees two fundamental rights: access to information and protection of personal data. In 2020, Mexico ratified the Escazú Agreement that secures access to environmental information, directly increasing climate change awareness, education, capacity building, and public cooperation.
At the Climate Change Information System website, people can easily find knowledge about climate change indicators, greenhouse gas emissions, updates, statistics, geography, vulnerability, and adaptation through interactive maps, videos, and documents.
The official website Mexico in the face of Climate Change is a significant contribution from government bodies addressed to the public, decision makers, and academics. The site collects official climate change documentation, research, news, education material, information on international collaborations, legal information, and statistics for users.
Most government information is centralized at the Government of Mexico website, which offers access to national news, government data, and services. Environmental and climate change information is available and accessible there. For instance, information is available by searching on climate change prevention, causes of climate change, and climate change. The Government of Mexico also provides some information for action learning, encouraging people to improve their habits to counter climate change.
SEMARNAT enables free access to information through documents such as the 3rd Work Report (2020–2021) and the Sector Program for Environment and Natural Resources (2020–2024). Those documents include climate change data, gaps, future targets, ongoing projects, links to official documents, and reports to inform interested people.
In 2016, SEMARNAT consolidated its publications in a central system. In collaboration with government agencies, this project allows climate change information to be accessed through a national website to promote education, training, and communication. The website is regularly updated and promoted by the government’s social media accounts. It includes information on climate culture, skills, and tools on the government’s response and climate policy aspects in Mexico. The government also collaborated with the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation to develop the website, De Frente al Cambio Climático (Facing Climate Change) that provides climate change information and its impacts on Mexico in a simplified form.
The National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change offers an official newspaper about climate change updates, called Climate Gaceta. With this tool, people learn about national progress, environmental and climate change information, global climate change news, and government and non-government decisions and agreements related to climate change. The newspaper is published every 2 months, although the most recent issue was dated July 2021 at the time of this review.
iii. Climate change and public participation
Mexico offers opportunities for public participation in climate change programs and policy making. The General Climate Change Law (2012) calls on the bodies responsible for climate change strategies and programs to involve society’s participation (Articles 7, 8, 68).
The Escazú Agreement (2018) was inserted into the Mexican legal framework to highlight the citizens’ right to participate in environmental decisions, sustainable development, and decisions affecting Mexicans. The government must publish legislation related to environmental matters and obtain approval from stakeholders.
The Special Climate Change Program (2020–2024) addresses diverse social groups, especially those more vulnerable to climate change, under an inclusive perspective. The Program supports gender equality by empowerment measures, aiming to reduce social gaps. The National Institute for Women (Inmujeres) took part in developing the Program, promoting gender perspectives in policies that counter climate change.
The Special Climate Change Program (2020–2024) examined citizen participation, in a 2020 survey to enhance government priorities and policy making. Survey results suggest that citizens want increased and improved climate change communication and education. At the time of this review, it was not clear if the government has taken steps on those findings.
According to SEMARNAT, public participation is essential to meet citizens’ concerns on the equitable use of natural resources and mutual responsibility to protect them. SEMARNAT opens the window to society through public consultations or meetings on environmental impact projects and information meetings about public observations or proposals. At the time of this review, no information was publicly available on participation of marginalized groups in those projects.
Another SEMARNAT initiative was Brake Climate Change, a yearly contest offered until 2015 to youth groups and organizations that carry out actions to counter climate change. They were tasked to develop ideas on what young people can do to fight climate change. Winners received a diploma and visits to protected areas in Mexico.
The 6th National Communication (2018) emphasizes social participation as key to achieving a collective comprehension of climate change vulnerability, making adaptation and mitigation processes easier. One lesson learned is that “using the ‘learn by doing’ method facilitates the acquisition of new skills, social learning, empowerment of communities, collective construction knowledge and appropriation of measures.” (p. 16) The National Communication notes that 26 states engage the public in climate change through committees or commissions, but only 17 were doing climate change-related public engagement at the time of this review.
i. Country monitoring
Mexico has a government framework based on transparency. The Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) and its attached bodies are typically responsible for producing environmental reports. The National Atlas of Vulnerability of Climate Change, chaired by SEMARNAT and the National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change, uses national indicators to assess climate change vulnerability in Mexico for specific issues and collects information for policy making.
The National Institute of Statistics and Geography is an autonomous public body that coordinates the National System of Statistical and Geographical Information, including collecting and disseminating information about Mexico’s land, population, and resources. The System’s website provides information on climates in Mexico and elements such as temperature through climatological maps.
SEMARNAT’s 3rd Work Report (2020–2021) tracks collaborations like conferences, plans, and research projects by SEMARNAT and decentralized institutions on the environment, climate change, and education and action for climate empowerment. No exact numbers are given in the Report.
The National Commission for the Continuous Improvement of Education develops the National Indicators of the Continuous Improvement of the Education in Mexico. In the version 2021, climate change education was not evaluated nor environmental education. Valuable education information is found such as rates of enrollment, attendance, Indigenous attendance, illiteracy, students population by gender, and age, among others.
The Government of Mexico works continuously to improve day-by-day contributions to sustainable development. The Nationally Determined Contributions (Updated, 2020) mention implementing an Information System and Actions for Transparency to account for and track actions, especially from the Special Climate Change Program and the Contributions. The goal of the Information System is to ensure that policies are progressive and can be gradually improved or strengthened. Further information on the process of this System was not available at the time of this review.
ii. MECCE Project Monitoring
The MECCE Project examined Mexico’s National Curriculum Framework for Basic Education (2011), its New Curriculum for the Upper Secondary Education (2017), and its Educational Sector Program (2020) for references to ‘climate change,’ ‘environment,’ ‘sustainability,’ and ‘biodiversity.’
The National Curriculum Framework for Basic Education (2011) mentions ‘environment’ twice, but does not mention ‘climate change,’ ‘sustainability,’ or ‘biodiversity.’ The New National Curriculum Framework for Basic Education 2022 mentions ‘climate change’ 4 times. ‘Environment’ is mentioned 22 times. ‘Sustainability’ is not mentioned (but a reference to sustainable cultural practices and transformation of communities is made). ‘Biodiversity’ is mentioned once.
The New Curriculum for the Upper Secondary Education mentions ‘climate change’ 21 times. ‘Environment’ is mentioned 104 times, ‘sustainability’ 71 times, and ‘biodiversity’ 13 times.
In the Education Sectoral Program (2020–2024), ‘climate change’ is mentioned once, ‘sustainability’ 96 times, and ‘environment’ 4 times. ‘Biodiversity’ is not mentioned.
This profile is reviewed by Edgar J. Gonzalez Gaudiano, Director General Universidad Veracruzana and Raúl Calixto Flores Profesor Universidad Pedagógica Nacional.