TUC Urban Lab Profile: Naucalpan, Mexico

Cover of the publication

After almost two years in operation, the challenges and key achievements of the TUC Urban Lab established in Naucalpan, Mexico, provide valuable lessons for sustaining ongoing activities, accelerating broader transformations and guiding similar efforts elsewhere:

  1. RECOGNIZING THE CHALLENGES AND BENEFITS OF UL MEMBERSHIP FLUCTUATION: If a core group of UL members exists, changes in UL membership are to be expected and are often beneficial. Such change can already be planned for as soon as the UL enters a new phase, for example when moving from planning to implementation of concrete action. UL facilitators should support the integration of new members to maximize the benefit of their new perspectives and contributions for ongoing UL work.  
  2. ADDRESSING LIMITED REPRESENTATION OF RESIDENTS AND THE PRIVATE SECTOR: Participation processes need a sound methodology and creative thinking. Even with the best of intentions and adequate facilitation, certain groups or sectors are particularly difficult to involve in the ULs. This may be because some UL members have doubts and see potential risks associated with the participation of others, or because the other actors see no benefits or are just not interested. Going forward, the UL Naucalpan will consider alternative, innovative and locally specific approaches and formats to encourage participation and meaningful engagement by these stakeholders.
  3. BUILDING ON DIVERSE PERSPECTIVES TO FOSTER NEW NETWORKS AND MUTUAL TRUST: By providing a setting for the exchange and constructive discussion of diverse perspectives, knowledge, interests and opinions, the UL approach fosters the emergence of new networks as well as mutual trust and cohesion. This is particularly evident between civil society and government in an otherwise ‘low-trust in government’ environment and provides a strong basis for collective climate action.
  4. NAVIGATING THE PARTICIPATION OF AND THE DEPENDENCE ON GOVERNMENT AUTHORITIES: While strong government authorities’ participation and support are critical for ULs, being too dependent on them is a risk for UL neutrality, for constructive discussions and for its potential transformative impact. As an opportunity for UL operation, sustainability and the scaling of experimental projects, government participation and support therefore must be carefully balanced with that of other sectors.