8048 - State de-regulation and the role of private agents in local planning and emergency management in Coatzacoalcos, Mexico. New forms of local governance?

In Mexico , private actors have an increasingly important role on issues of local governance, in which businessmen and their organizations, NGOs and others agents have taken advantage of the progressive opening and de-regulation of traditional State powers. This participation have had major impact on territorial management and planning schemes throughout the country, especially regarding the processes of urban-environmental planning and local economic development projects.  

The growing importance of the private sector is parallel to the consolidation of a controversial process of decentralization of the Mexican State . Within this context, it remains unclear to what extent the participation of private actors is actually leading to any significant change in local governance schemes, in terms of participation, inclusiveness and/or better governance outputs such as good quality public services delivery or improved territorial planning.  

This paper addresses this issue by studying the case of two parallel emergency management systems in Coatzacoalcos , Mexico , where several major petrochemical plants of the State petroleum enterprise, PEMEX, are located, together with a cloud of private sub-contractors and associate enterprises. Due to its geographical location, this area is subject to intense flooding events, in which the public system of emergency management has consolidated plans of action and infrastructure. However, the cluster of private enterprises associated to PEMEX also has a system of information and emergency action, which works in parallel to the public system; this parallel system entails unknown outcomes in cases of environmental planning and risk management. This case is a unique example to improve our understanding of the blurred boundaries between the ‘public’ and the ‘private’ in local governance issues, which illustrates the transformation of the role of the State at the local scale. Co-author: María Teresa Sánchez-Salazar, Instituto de Geografía, UNAM

Keywords: State de-regulation, emergency management, local governance, private actors, environmental planning

Author: Ruiz Rivera, Naxhelli (Instituto de Geografía UNAM, Mexico / Mexiko)
Co-Author: Sánchez-Salazar, María Teresa (UNAM, México D.F.)


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