OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Building pathways to sustainable land-use and food systems in Mexico

Develop national strategies towards sustainable land and food systems.

Photo of Charlotte Gonzalez Abraham
1 0

Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

The Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies at University of California San Diego

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Researcher Institution

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Mexico Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública (INSP) Mexico Universidad de Guanajuato (UG), Mexico University of California San Diego and Riverside, USA Instituto Politécnico Nacional (IPN), Mexico Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE), México Colegio de México (COLMEX)

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 1-3 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

La Jolla, California. United States of America

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?


Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

The country of Mexico

What country is your selected Place located in?

Estados Unidos Mexicanos (Mexico)

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

Mexico is my place of origin and where I live. I'm troubled by a history of good planning that never is used and keeps endangering the ecosystems that gives us life.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

It's a country ecologically heterogeneous that hosts a diverse array of ecosystems ranging from hyper-arid deserts to tropical rainforests, which have evolved as a consequence of both the country’s complex topography and its particular location between the Nearctic and Neotropical biogeographic realms. Mexico is also one of the biologically megadiverse countries of the world, with high endemism for birds, mammals, and reptiles. This complexity and richness has promoted a rich cultural diversity that historically has transformed landscapes. Human populations that have adapted to its environmental conditions giving origin to important and delicious crops in the world and a fabulous cuisine. It is also a deeply troubled place, with a population that thrives despite decades of corrupt governments that have affected the well being of millions and have promoted exploitation of Mexico's natural resources without long term planning or thought for future generations.

What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Mexico faces all of the challenges of unsustainable land use. Agricultural activities have been and remain the main causes of deforestation. Most of the country’s drylands have been used for cattle ranching for centuries, and many of them have suffered intense biological changes as a result. Furthermore, most of Mexico’s ecoregions have high rates of transformation mainly due to low-yield agricultural use and extensive cattle ranching. Despite all the attention that the Mexican government has put into improving agricultural outputs, yields remain low in most of the country, including an average 3.2 ton/ha in maize, the country’s basic crop. Poor diet is one of the most important issues of public health in Mexico. 23 percent of the Mexican population experiences moderate to severe hunger, while simultaneously 7 out of 10 adults are either overweight or obese. The population’s diet is evolving rapidly due to higher incomes and rapid urbanization. Among other changes, consumption of animal source foods has increased, further intensifying the pressure on Mexico’s agricultural systems and ecosystems.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

The transformation of land-use and food systems requires long-term strategies, as called for in the Paris Agreement(4). Long-term pathways are a method for problem solving for countries to understand how the targets can be achieved and to build consensus for strategies to achieve them. Pathways work backwards from the mid-century targets and specify the interventions needed to achieve them. They help in three critical ways: (1) they provide a framework for engaging stakeholders (governments, businesses, civil societies and the scientific community), to review, pose questions and suggest improvements for how to achieve the targets, which can build a societal consensus for the transformations; (2) without a long-term perspective countries risk locking themselves into unsustainable infrastructure and land-use systems(5), which would make achieving the midcentury targets far more costly if not impossible; (3) they help identify mid-term technology benchmarks needed to achieve the targets, such as increases in agricultural productivity or efficiency gains in livestock, which can then guide business action and innovation challenges.(5) Long-term pathways are critical for success, and FABLE’s mission is to develop the tools to prepare them.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

1. Eliminate malnutrition by curbing food wastage along food production and supply chains,(2) and achieving low dietary-disease risk by reducing consumption of highly processed foods and red meat.(1) 2. Improve agricultural productivity under sustainable intensification: How does the food system improve efficiency sustainably(2) (e.g., zero tillage, precision agriculture, agroecological practices) to achieve food security while avoiding agricultural land expansion, reducing greenhouse gases and pollution due to overuse of agrochemicals? 3. Halt habitat conversion: Jalisco needs to explore if its food system is able to improve its efficiency without sacrificing more forested areas and under ambitious afforestation strategies that will advance conservation and restauration goals.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Email
  • Conference/event

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Alana Libow

Hi Charlotte Gonzalez Abraham - Welcome to the Food System Vision Prize!

As a reminder, we encourage visionaries to review our toolkit ( -- particularly the 6 themes that we aim to understand across your challenges and visions.

As you develop your challenges & vision, consider what would life in Mexico (or a part of it) look like in 2050? If a news reporter came to join you for a day in your shoes in 2050-- what would this reporter see, feel, experience? How would your community's lives be different because of your vision?

How might you engage your stakeholders now to help develop your vision and inspire others to collaborate with you?

We look forward to seeing your updates!