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Graduate Education on Climate Change and Sustainable Development

Mexico, quo vadis?
  • Sandra Piña-Romero
  • Luzma Fabiola Nava
  • J. Alberto Gallardo-CruzEmail author
Living reference work entry
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Abstract

Graduate education (GE) on climate change (CC) and sustainable development (SD) is one of the most pressing issues that we need to face. The current environmental crisis and the emerging socio-political and economic stressing events call for new strategies and policies to secure our planet. Here we argue that GE represents one of the most lasting, effective, and comprehensive measures to foster adaptation to face the challenges imposed by all kind of CC manifestations. In Mexico, GE on CC and SD could serve as a means for ensuring the achievement of national development objectives and international commitments. In this context, our study aims to analyze the offer and content related to CC and SD in GE in Mexico. To achieve this, a search and selection of Mexican graduate programs related to SD and CC was conducted. Then, two methods of content analysis were used to analyze curricular content of these programs: a word frequency analysis and a cluster analysis. This study offers a first approach to understand the problematic situation of education in Mexico as a lever to enjoying better living contexts; however, it also represents an opportunity to highlight and open a discussion on the threats that CC imposes and the need to train human resources as experts in CC able to search, elaborate, and coordinate adaptation measures to solve development issues on an ad hoc basis. Our results also suggest that there are very few programs targeting CC, and consequently not enough experts being trained in Mexico.

Keywords

Adaptation Education Graduated programs Human resources Institution building Mexico Public policy Political will Responsibility Society 

1 Introduction

Climate change and sustainable development are among the main challenges of the XXI century (Bizikova et al. 2007; Matthew and Hammill 2009; Smit et al. 2001). Climate change (CC) and the different meteorological events alter the stability between species and ecosystems (Jiménez Cisneros et al. 2014; Settele et al. 2014; Wong et al. 2014) having impacts on the socio-political and economic domains by affecting the satisfaction of social needs (both urban and rural) and the means of needs´ satisfaction and development of productive activities across sectors. CC affects also the environment and the ecosystems that provide goods and services to people (Anderson et al. 2011; Díaz et al. 2015; McCarty 2001). Consequently, the cost of damages caused by the diversity of events related to CC is extremely high having dire impacts on people’s health, livelihood, and well-being (Díaz et al. 2015; Grimm and Jacobs 2013; Pascual et al. 2017). Nevertheless, sustainable development (SD) aims to attain social and economic development while conserving biodiversity and full ecosystem functions (Griggs et al. 2013).

In this sense, and at least theoretically, the diverse manifestations of CC will have an impact on conditioning or favoring the ways people relates to natural resources (Kessler et al. 1992) and, consequently, conditioning the potential development (Ayers and Dodman 2010; World Bank 2010). The actual socioeconomic system and climate alterations defy all three pillars of SD (social, economic, and environmental). The inequality of opportunities and access to services (including education, health, and livelihoods), the depletion and pollution of natural resources, corruption, discrimination, as well as causes and consequences of CC (Halsnæs et al. 2007) are some important examples of the unsustainability of our socioeconomic system.

Differences in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events and the capacity of response to such events make regions heterogeneously vulnerable to climate change manifestations, mainly because CC imposes its consequences on the regional capacities to sustain development, human well-being, and ecosystems health across sectors and scales. Adaptation represents a strategy to the ensemble of challenges deriving from the adversities imposed by climate change and the opportunities mirrored by the sustainable development. Adaptation refers to the adjustment of processes in response to climate change effects (Smit et al. 2001), and it is needed when risks or impacts related to climate change require measures to ensure the safety of communities (Noble et al. 2014). In this way, measures of adaptation are aimed to decrease vulnerability while improving long-term socio-political and environmental integrity (Brown 2011).

In this regard, graduated education (GE) is a multidimensional measure of adaptation to climate change (Noble et al. 2014; Yohe and Tol 2002) needed in all sectors of society, public and private, and across all ages (Noble et al. 2014). Adaptation is also a strategy to modify the current way to access, use, and exploit natural resources in order to maintain the potentialities of ecosystems and secure the benefits people get from them (Satterthwaite 2011; Thomas and Twyman 2005; Tompkins and Adger 2004). Studies suggest that successful implementation of adaptation measures and strategies is related to the availability and the potential uses of produced and available information (Yohe and Tol 2002).

In this order or ideas, graduated education on climate change and sustainable development may favor responsible knowledge, attitude, and actions toward the causes and consequences derived from changes in climate (Anderson 2013; Cordero et al. 2008; Kagawa and Selby 2009). By contrast, a lack or a weak system of education represents a constraint that contributes to vulnerability of affected societies (Paavola 2008). This means that graduated education on CC, and on SD, plays an important role in shaping the future of the world. More importantly, education grants the development of regional and local human capacities to cope with climatic conditions and resource stress and co-create scientific ideas and projects to meet global challenges and contribute to a more sustainable and wealthy world (Bangay and Blum 2010; Muttarak and Lutz 2014). In a similar fashion, it has been demonstrated that education on SD enhances social sustainable behavior (Barth et al. 2007; Sterling 2001). Educating for sustainable development is necessary to inform people about what SD is, about the challenges that our current development model imposes to the achievement of SD, and about the implementation of sustainable actions, programs, and projects.

2 The Regional State of the Art on Natural and Human Resources

Mexico is a country vulnerable to climate change. Both its social and environmental characteristics make Mexico highly susceptible to the impacts of climate change and to the great challenges to achieve sustainability (Eakin 2005; Masera and Sheinbaum 2000). Compared to the southern region, the central and northern Mexican regions are mainly characterized by a high economic income and high living standards. In terms of water resources availability, the center and north of Mexico are regions showing signs of weakening the availability of these resources. Besides, the majority of the country’s population live in these two regions. As a result of the growing population, higher water volume is demanded for daily living and economical activities.

2.1 The South of Mexico

Southern Mexico is a rich region on natural resources. The equivalent to 30% of water resources available at national level can be found in this region (Nava 2006, 2018; Oswald Spring 2011; Tortajada and Biswas 1997); it is a tropical biodiversity hotspot, which makes it a pillar for the conservation and evolution of a big set of biota (Hampe and Petit 2005; Pérez-García et al. 2010); it holds a great cultural wealth, all this along a situation of generalized poverty (Deininger and Minten 1999; Musálem-Castillejos et al. 2018; Ruiz Meza 2010). Some of the climatic future scenarios for this region include 1 m sea level rise which will result in the loss of wetlands and mangroves along the Gulf of Mexico (Romero-Lankao et al. 2014), increases in extremely dry summers seasons, decreases in summer precipitation, increases in daily-scale temperature up to 5 °C in the warmest daily maximum temperatures, and increases in flooding events (Georgakakos et al. 2014; Romero-Lankao et al. 2014). For their part, northern and central regions are expected to continue suffering from drought and intensified competition for food, water, and energy (Boyd and Ibarrarán 2009; Magaña Rueda and Gay García 2002; Ortega-Gaucin and Velasco 2013; Quintana S 2013; Romero-Lankao et al. 2014).

2.2 About Economic Development

Different degrees of economic development and diverse issues related to the availability of natural resources have a bearing on graduate education and human development opportunities and capacities. In Mexico, the north and central regions are coping with natural resources degradation and a high economic development leading to a scenario where it has become a priority to preserve what is left to continue pushing development and sustain populations’ needs. An opposite situation is the case of southern Mexico. Here, natural resources are so abundant and diverse that there is – still – no need to act in different fronts to prevent an environmental crisis despite of the area’s natural wealth and vulnerability to be too deeply affected by the impacts of climate change jeopardizing any efforts to achieve sustainable development (Deininger and Minten 1999; Musálem-Castillejos et al. 2018; Nava 2006, 2018; Oswald Spring 2011; Ruiz Meza 2010; Tortajada and Biswas 1997).

2.3 About Knowledge and Education

The OECD Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) evaluates the knowledge and skills of a 15-year-old participating in modern societies. Last test results (2015) placed Mexico as number 60 out of 72 countries (OECD 2018), where 48% of students did not reach the minimum acceptable level in sciences, 42% in reading, and 57% in mathematics (OCDE 2016). Besides, in Mexico, 41% of students hold expectations of a career in science, and boys are the most interested in, as adult, being working in science-related occupations. Both, boys and girls, mentioned that they may learn science because they enjoy it and/or because they perceive learning science to be useful for their future plans. However, in 2014, Mexico’s per capita GDP was USD 17 315, or 44% of the OECD average. The country’s cumulative expenditure per student between the ages of 6 and 15 was USD 27 848, or 31% of the OECD average. The ratio of the cumulative expenditure to the country’s GDP is lower in Mexico (1.6) than in many other Latin American countries as Costa Rica (3.1), Brazil (2.4), Chile (1.8), Colombia (1.8), the Dominican Republic (1.7), and Peru (1.7) (OECD 2018).

2.4 New Public Policy Challenges

More recently, during the new federal administration, new universities have been planned to be opened in order to satisfy higher education demands. Certainly, tertiary enrollments in Mexico have more than doubled, going from 1.9 million to 4.4 million between 2000 and 2017 placing tremendous stress on Mexico’s education system. However, the country’s tertiary enrollment rate still trails far behind those of other major Latin American countries. For example, the tertiary gross enrollment ratio (GER) stood at 38% in Mexico in 2017, while it ranged from 50% in Brazil to 59% in Colombia and 89% in Argentina, per UNESCO. One of the main reasons for these relatively low participation rates consists on the disparities between the more industrialized central and northern regions of Mexico and the less developed southern states like Chiapas, Oaxaca, Yucatan, and Tabasco. In Mexico more than 60 languages are spoken mostly by indigenous ethnic groups in the south, a region that has historically been neglected by the federal government. Thus, it is within these underfunded rural regions that educational participation and attainment rates are extremely low. Literacy rates in the states of Chiapas and Oaxaca, home to the largest percentages of indigenous peoples in Mexico, are more than 10 times lower than in Mexico City or the northern state of Nuevo León. In an attempt to raise education participation rates across the nation, the Mexican government in 2012 made upper secondary education compulsory for all children by 2020. However, inadequate funding and administrative obstacles have thus far prevented universal implementation of this goal, particularly in marginalized rural regions. The new federal administration (AMLO, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, President of Mexico, 2018–2024) has also vowed to provide financial assistance to upper secondary students to reduce high school dropout rates (Monroy and Trines 2019).

Thus, the weak levels of public investment, when compared with regional countries at similar levels of development and relative to their needs, translates into new generations of Mexican youth, that willing to pursue theirs studies in any scientific field may have less educational opportunities under higher public expenses on education. Hence, a lack of public investment in education increases Mexico’s vulnerability to the impacts of climate change and defies all efforts deployed to achieve a certain degree of national sustainability. This context calls for the necessity to bring attention to graduate education on climate change and sustainable development in Mexico. In particular, this study aims to analyze the offer and content related to CC and SD in graduate education in Mexico.

3 Methodology

A search and selection of Mexican graduate programs related to sustainability and climate change topics was conducted in order to evaluate the graduate educational offer in Mexico. Then, two qualitative methods of content analysis were used to analyze curricular content of these programs, a word frequency analysis and a cluster analysis.

3.1 Methodological Steps

  1. a)

    For the search and selection of graduate programs, a list of key terms related to sustainability and climate change was created through expert brainstorming. These words were used to search and select graduate programs.

     
  2. b)

    The search and selection of programs was based on the National List of Quality Postgraduate Programs (Padrón del Programa Nacional de Posgrados de Calidad 2017) published by the Mexican National Council of Science and Technology (Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología, CONACyT). Programs that contained any of the keywords in the program title or program objectives were selected and listed.

     
  3. c)

    Program’s objectives, graduate profile, subjects, and lines of research of the selected programs were included in a spreadsheet. This information was searched and found in universities and/or programs webpage.

     
  4. d)

    A description of the list of selected programs was made in relation to the number of programs found, the institutions offering the programs, and the states where they are offered.

     
  5. e)

    To analyze the content of the curricula, word frequency was calculated for each section of the curricula in order to identify the most and less studied subjects in the selected programs (root words were used for this analysis).

     
  6. f)

    A cluster analysis was performed to group programs that are similar in content. This analysis is based on a frequency matrix of words on each program (rows programs, words in columns, each cell corresponds to the frequency of the word on the program). From this matrix, Pearson coefficient is calculated for each pair of programs, and the resulting value is then used to cluster the objects through the nearest neighbor method.

     
  7. g)

    Steps d, e, and f were repeated for each of the three groups of states proposed in the National Ranking of Science and Technology published by the National Advisory Forum of Science and Technology (Dutrénit Bielous et al. 2014).

     
  8. h)

    Climate change was absent in the frequent word analysis. Because we are interested in this subject, a closer review of the programs that are related to CC was made. For this analysis, programs that mentioned climate change or global change either in program objectives, in graduates profile, or in lines of research were selected and reviewed in closer detail with the idea to better understand the included climate change in their curricula.

     

Analysis in steps e, f, g, and h was run with the software NVivo 11 (NVivo 11 qualitative data analysis software 2015). It is important to mention that all the data and the results are in Spanish. Results presented here are a free translation of the original results in Spanish.

4 Results and Discussion

4.1 Offer and Content of Graduate Programs

The selection of programs from the National List of Quality Postgraduate Programs was made during the month of March 2017. At the time, the list included 2025 graduate programs, of which 190 complied with the criteria established; one of them is a graduate diploma, 124 are master programs, and 65 are doctoral programs (Appendix I; exhaustive information in Spanish is available upon request). These programs are offered by 59 academic institutions in 30 States of Mexico (out of 32); no programs were found in the states of Colima and Zacatecas. The institutions offering the greater number of the programs are the Veracruzana University (13 programs), the Autonomous University of Chapingo (12 programs), and the Postgraduates College (11 programs). However, the states were more programs are offered are the State of Mexico, Veracruz, and Mexico City (24, 19, and 15, respectively).

4.2 Word Frequency

The 25 most frequent words of the different sections of curricula are presented in Table 1. The different sections of curricula share some of its most frequent words, particularly the words environment, development, management, sustainable, and resources that are found among the ten most common words in all sections. These words are supposed to correspond to the main topics in the selected programs. Among the topics that interest this study, climate change outstands for being missing in the table of frequent words, and so it is targeted as the main unstudied subject of interest. From the analysis, it can be inferred that words making up the title of programs are related mostly to natural resources and their use, words included in programs objectives and graduates profile refer to the quality and the processes in science education (i.e., education, knowledge, capacities), and words in subjects and lines of research are the ones that tell more about the content of programs.
Table 1.

Word frequency results. (Source: Prepared by the authors on the basis of data based on the National List of Quality Postgraduate Programs. (Padrón del Programa Nacional de Posgrados de Calidad 2017))

 

Title

Objectives

Graduates profile

Subjects

Lines of research

Place

Word

Count

%

Word

Count

%

Word

Count

%

Word

Count

%

Word

Count

%

1

Science

60

11.1

Research

298

2.5

Research

363

2.4

Environmental

276

2.7

Management

77

3.9

2

Environmental

35

6.5

Development

296

2.5

Development

318

2.1

Ecologic

268

2.6

Resources

76

3.9

3

Sustainable

34

6.3

Education

264

2.2

Knowledge

298

2.0

Management

234

2.3

Environmental

75

3.8

4

Development

30

5.6

Resources

263

2.2

Resources

221

1.5

Development

192

1.9

Sustainable

71

3.6

5

Resources

27

5.0

Knowledge

215

1.8

Environmental

207

1.4

Sustainable

170

1.7

Development

51

2.6

6

Ecology

24

4.4

Capacities

169

1.4

Management

192

1.3

Systems

166

1.6

Natural

43

2.2

7

Natural

23

4.3

Environmental

151

1.3

Sustainable

188

1.3

Resources

148

1.5

Conservation

42

2.2

8

Management

17

3.1

Sustainable

149

1.3

Graduation

171

1.2

Biology

131

1.3

Ecology

37

1.9

9

Farming

15

2.8

Scientific

147

1.3

Scientific

163

1.1

Economy

124

1.2

Production

34

1.7

10

Agricultural

12

2.2

Human

146

1.2

Apply

162

1.1

Analysis

120

1.2

Management

32

1.6

11

Biology

12

2.2

Problems

143

1.2

Problems

150

1.0

Select

119

1.2

Systems

32

1.6

12

Environment

11

2.0

Technologic

128

1.1

Projects

140

0.9

Methods

109

1.1

Processes

25

1.3

13

Marine

11

2.0

Generate

128

1.1

Natural

139

0.9

Statistics

108

1.1

Biotechnology

24

1.2

14

Tropical

10

1.9

Apply

123

1.0

Social

137

0.9

Conservation

104

1.0

Water

23

1.2

15

Engineering

9

1.7

Level

121

1.0

Capacity

126

0.8

Natural

104

1.0

Social

23

1.2

16

Water

8

1.5

Academic

119

1.0

Technology

109

0.7

Research

96

0.9

Biodiversity

22

1.1

17

Management

8

1.5

Socially

117

1.0

Field

108

0.7

Applied

93

0.9

Coastal

22

1.1

18

Environment

8

1.5

Science

107

0.9

Generate

107

0.7

Topics

89

0.9

Environment

21

1.1

19

Local

8

1.5

Natural

104

0.9

Conservation

104

0.7

Introduction

84

0.8

Biologic

20

1.0

20

Systems

7

1.3

Professional

103

0.9

Science

103

0.7

Management

83

0.8

Marine

20

1.0

21

Biodiversity

6

1.1

Solution

97

0.8

Processes

103

0.7

Social

81

0.8

Ecosystems

20

1.0

22

Conservation

6

1.1

Area/field

92

0.8

Relation

101

0.7

Environment

80

0.8

Technology

19

1.0

23

Forestry

6

1.1

High

92

0.8

Solution

98

0.7

Marine

78

0.8

Rural

19

1.0

24

Rural

6

1.1

Contribute

91

0.8

Ecology

96

0.6

Production

77

0.8

Control

17

0.9

25

Coastal

5

0.9

Conservation

82

0.7

Programs

95

0.6

Ecosystems

75

0.7

Health

17

0.9

Table 1 presents the total (count) and relative frequency (%) of the 25 most frequent words found in the selected study programs title, objectives, graduates profile, subjects, and lines of research. Management bold is the translation for manejo, and management in Italics is the translation of gestión. Environment in Italics is the translation of medio in medio ambiente.

4.3 Cluster Analysis

Cluster analysis formed four main groups of programs each of which subdivides into two subgroups (Appendix II). The results of cluster analysis are summarized in Table 2. Subgroups at the top of each group are designated by the letter a and subgroups at the bottom with the letter b. Group 1 is formed by 27 programs, subgroup 1a included programs in environmental engineering, agricultural engineering, and renewable energies. Subgroup 1b contained programs on agriculture, sustainable development, and rural development. Group 2 is formed by 26 study programs, where programs in subgroup 2a focused on environment (environmental health, environmental sciences, environmental management and technology) and programs in subgroup 2b focus on environmental economy, agricultural economy, and sustainability. Group 3 is the largest group containing 38 programs. Programs of subgroup 3a are on agriculture and farming science, agroindustry, agroecosystems, and plant protection. Group 3b is a small group addressing diverse issues such as transdisciplinarity, interculturality, land management, projects, and natural resources. Subgroup 4a programs address aquatic resources (sea science, limnology, marine ecology, marine biology, coast management) and include one program in ecologic restoration. Subgroup 4b programs address biological science and resources, biodiversity, ecology, and conservation, resource management.
Table 2.

Cluster analysis summary. (Source: Prepared by the authors on the basis of data based on National List of Quality Postgraduate Programs. (Padrón del Programa Nacional de Posgrados de Calidad 2017))

Group

Subgroup

Number of programs

Main topics of graduate programs

1

1a

7

Environmental engineering

Agricultural engineering

Water use

Renewable energies

1b

20

Sustainable development

Rural development

2

2a

12

Environmental health

Environmental management

Environmental engineering

Environmental science

2b

14

Sustainable development

Environmental economy

Agricultural economy

Environmental administration

Urban studies

Environmental systems

3

3a

28

Farming science

Natural resources

Agriculture

Agroindustry

Agroecosystems

Plant protection

3b

10

International ecology

Interdisciplinary

Interculturalism

Territory

Sustainability

4

4a

11

Water resources

Marine sciences

Marine ecology

Marine resource management

Coastal management

4b

21

Biodiversity

Conservation

Ecology

Tropical ecosystems

This table summarizes the results of the cluster analysis. It presents the number of programs and topics clustered in each group and subgroup formed in the analysis.

4.4 Offer and Content of Programs Following the Groups of States of the National Ranking of Science and Technology

From the selected programs mentioned in the first section (offer and content of graduate programs), 41 are offered in the 9 states forming group A according to the National Ranking of Science and Technology (Dutrénit Bielous et al. 2014) (found in northern Mexico and characterized by having the best scientific and technological capacities) and are taught in 15 institutions. In the 15 states forming group B, there are 105 programs offered by 32 institutions. Most states in group B are found Central Mexico and were classified to have intermediate scientific and technological capacities (Dutrénit Bielous et al. 2014). Finally, group C clustered the seven states that have the lowest scientific and technologic capacities, most of which are found in the southern region of the country (Dutrénit Bielous et al. 2014). Of the selected programs, 29 are offered in these states by 13 educational institutions. Figure 1 presents the 15 most frequent words in the subjects of each group of states. It is interesting to note that the words environment, development, management, sustainable, and resources, identified above as the most frequent words, appear also among the most frequent words when analyzing separately the set of programs of the three groups of states. However, shared words are not limited to these. Frequent words shared by all the three groups also include conservation (except in subjects of Group B), ecology (except in lines of research of Group A), and natural (except in subjects of Group B). The biggest differences in frequency between groups (among the 15 most frequent words) are in the words coastal, forestry, and economy.
Fig. 1.

Percentage of the frequency of the 15 most frequent words in the programs of the three groups of state. Terms in bold characters are more general categories used to represent the words close to them in the axe of the words of the graphic.(Source: Prepared by the authors on the basis of data based on National List of Quality Postgraduate Programs. (Padrón del Programa Nacional de Posgrados de Calidad 2017))

4.5 Climate Change Related Programs

From the revision of the graduate programs presented in Sect. 3.1, we were able to identify that in total only five programs (2.6%) mentioned climate change in their curriculum. Figure 2 shows the geographic location of these programs. A quick glance at this figure shows an uneven distribution of programs related to climate change in Mexico, and remarkable is the lack of programs in the southern region of the country. The doctoral program sustainability of agricultural resources offered by the Juarez University of the State of Durango gives climate change an important role. However, the rest of the programs that mention climate change in their curriculums do not appear to give a main role to climate change.
Fig. 2.

Location of climate change and global change related graduate programs in Mexico. (Source: Prepared by the authors on the basis of data based on National List of Quality Postgraduate Programs. (Padrón del Programa Nacional de Posgrados de Calidad 2017))

The results of this research indicate that sustainability is being addressed by multiple graduate programs in Mexico, but climate change is not. Sustainability is mentioned 34 times only in the title of the programs selected, 149 times in programs objectives, and 71 times in lines of research of the selected study programs as listed in Table 1. However, the notions of climate change and global change are mentioned in the curricula of only 14 programs. The results also suggest that programs that declare to tackle sustainability are outweighing the environmental side compared to the social and economic axes of sustainable development as shown in Fig. 1. According to our results, the main subjects attended by the selected programs relate to natural resource management and environment. These findings were similar in all regions (Fig. 1). In fact, five of the selected programs include climate change and nine global change on its curricula (objectives, graduates profile, or lines of research). When analyzing the geographic location of these programs, it can be noticed that they are located in the north and central regions of the country, which implies a real gap to the southern region in Mexico (Fig. 2). Furthermore, when reviewing in detail the curricula of these programs, climate change appears to be treated as a secondary subject. This finding is preoccupying considering that, as explained in the introduction of this manuscript, the south of Mexico is a region particularly vulnerable to climate change due to its social, ecological, and economic characteristics and even to its political context.

To our knowledge this study constitutes the first attempt of evaluation of graduate education on sustainable development and climate change in Mexico. This study offers a first approach to understand the problematic situation of education in Mexico as a lever to enjoying better living contexts; however, it also represents an opportunity to highlight and open a discussion on the threats that climate change imposes to Mexico across all regions and the need to train human resources as experts in climate change able to search, elaborate, and coordinate adaptation measures to solve development issues on an ad hoc basis. Our results suggest there are very few programs targeting climate change, and consequently not enough experts being trained in the subject in Mexico.

5 Conclusions

Despite the fact that Mexico has recognized the importance of climate change and sustainable development under some of its domestic laws as the General Law of Climate Change (adopted on June 2, 2012; last reformed in July 2018) and the General Law of Ecological Equilibrium and Environmental Protection of Mexico (adopted on January, 28, 1988; last reformed in June 2018), among others, and has adhered to the 2030 Agenda and signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement, Mexico has still something very basic to accomplish: to reinforce the national fabric through a youth community having the opportunities to solve pressing issues by means of an ensemble of robust and based on sound science graduate education curricula.

World Scientists’ have recently warned of a climate emergency (Ripple et al. 2019) and argued that scientists have a moral obligation to clearly warn humanity about the climate emergency that planet Earth is facing. The new federal administration in Mexico (2018–2024) has the responsibility to inject important amounts of public funds to the graduate education system and to offer greater opportunities to the youth community by means of study scholarships and to foster the creation of new academic programs and the building of excellent facilities for human resource training particularly in the area of climate change and sustainable development. Last but not least, graduate education needs to be given on an ad hoc basis meaning academic programs should integrate, in their respective curricula, the social, environmental, and political identity and problematics of each region. Adapting the graduate education system is the only way to address the current and diverse challenges and opportunities Mexico is facing across its different regions. Particularly, the south of Mexico requires a lot of efforts to secure the natural wealth of this region and its cultural richness; graduate careers on climate change and sustainable development will, without a doubt, prevent a regional social and ecosystem disaster.

Mexico is expected to be one of the world’s top 20 countries in terms of the highest number of tertiary students by 2035 (Monroy and Trines 2019); it is then a key challenge for the Mexican government to ensure quality of graduate education to all those that are interested in solve pressing current issues in order to contribute to the development of the country and the socio-environmental sustainability in the face of climate change. Besides, these efforts will be of help to the new federal administration aiming to alleviate poverty and end corruption.

6 Cross-References

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors are grateful to the research project entitled “Cambio global y sustentabilidad en la cuenca del río Usumacinta y zona marina de influencia. Bases para la adaptación al cambio climático desde la ciencia y la gestión del territorio,” for providing the resources necessary for this research. The research project received a grant from the Mexican National Council of Science and Technology (Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología, CONACyT) upon the agreement number 273646. The authors also thank: Georgina García for her support during the analysis; Karla de la Cruz Burelo for her time designing Fig. 2; and, Maritza Alejandra Carpio Candelero for her time for updating and editing Appendix I.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sandra Piña-Romero
    • 1
  • Luzma Fabiola Nava
    • 2
    • 3
  • J. Alberto Gallardo-Cruz
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Centro del Cambio Global y la Sustentabilidad (CCGS) A.C.VillahermosaMexico
  2. 2.CONACyT – Centro del Cambio Global y la Sustentabilidad (CCGS) A.C.VillahermosaMexico
  3. 3.International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)LaxenburgAustria
  4. 4.Centro Transdisciplinar Universitario para la Sustentabilidad (Centrus), Universidad IberoamericanaCiudad de MexicoMexico

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