Expressions of collective grievance as a feedback in multi-actor adaptation to water risks in Mexico City

Hallie Eakin, Rebecca Shelton, Andrés Baeza, Luis A. Bojórquez-Tapia, Shalae Flores, Jagadish Parajuli, Ileana Grave, Alejandra Estrada Barón, Bertha Hernández

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Effective adaptation assumes a feedback between the experience or anticipation of harm, and the actions of those individuals whose decisions and actions are necessary to reduce that harm. In urban areas, citizens often expect support from the public sector to facilitate their adaptation efforts and to protect them from exposure. This expectation—grounded in notions of the social contract between citizens and the state—presumes efficient feedback between public sector actors and residents concerning vulnerable states and adaptation needs. Through a case study of Mexico City, we analyze the role of social mobilization, specifically, neighborhood protests associated with water scarcity, as an informal means for a vulnerable population to communicate its needs to those actors with the mandate and capacity to alter risk exposure. On the basis of the findings from the case study, we propose a simple framework to begin a more systematic process of analyzing the expression of grievances as a feedback among actors involved in urban adaptation. We argue that by making visible these expressions as an informal mechanism of feedback between risk exposure, impact, decision-making, and the biophysical environment, we can reveal a potentially important lever on system change: one that highlights existing asymmetries in power, equity, and rights in urban adaptation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number17
JournalRegional Environmental Change
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020


  • Adaptation
  • Conflict
  • Governance
  • Mexico City
  • Social contracts
  • Water insecurity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change


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