La historia de la Coalición Tricolor

Tricolor Coalition, promoting sustainability transitions in Mexico City

Coalición Tricolor (para las Transiciones Sustentables)
Tricolor Coalition, promoting sustainability transitions in Mexico City

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Why Mexico City?

With 21 million inhabitants, Mexico City is one of the most populated cities around the world. Moreover, Mexico City is a cosmopolitan city that has been a home to not only of families from all Mexican states, but also served as a home to others from across the world, turning Mexico City into a melting pot of cultural diversity. This diversity is part of the richness of what the city can give, but it also creates a set of sustainability challenges. Historically, it is a city marked by the presence of pre-colonial civilizations, including but not limited to the Aztecs. Geographically, Mexico City was built on a wetland at 2200 meters altitude.

However, there is also strong inequalities in the city. While some neighborhoods are characterized by over-consumption of some natural resources obtained from inside and outside the city, other areas have insufficient access to a minimum consumption of resources that guarantees the well-being of families.

Fortunately, over the past years Mexico City has seen more and more people who are not only conscious of these sustainability challenges, but are highly skilled and interested to address them. To channel these interests and skills for sustainability transitions, the Tricolor Coalition was founded to provide a platform that can support Mexico City’s stakeholders to collaboratively address this challenge. 

Enter the Mexico City’s Tricolor Coalition

In 2021, we founded the Mexico City Tricolor Coalition. Starting off as a group of young professionals that were simultaneously proud of, and concerned with, our city, we created Tricolor Coalition as the Mexico City’s Doughnut Economic Coalition. After the feedback of several of its stakeholders, the coalition provides a framework that helps focus on what the main sustainability challenges are in Mexico City (using the doughnut as the science-based framework for this and collecting the data from a multi-actor perception analysis, and available indicators). This information was then useful for us to identify what are the sustainability challenges and priorities, and where action should and could be taken.

During 2021-2022 we then analyzed how to downscale the Doughnut principles to assess a feasible Mexico City’s water and energy sustainability transition. For this, we obtained five types of knowledge of what was needed to plan it in a multi-actor process: 

  1. Stakeholder Mapping that reflected who were sustainability multiple stakeholders and decisionmakers from the government, enterprises, academia, and NGOs.
  2. Sustainability challenges in water and energy that should be addressed, using the Doughnut City Portrait as the framework to define these challenges.
  3. Sustainability future visions of how the water and energy sectors should look like from a sustainability perspective of the participant stakeholders.
  4. Feasible working priorities and actions available to promote the change from the current unsustainable challenges to the sustainability future vision of the participant stakeholders.

After the learnings of this first year, we then realized that we needed more resources and support so that this information could serve the multiple actors we were working with. 

Thus, now in 2023, we have now registered as a not-for-profit civil society in Mexico City, and we have created concrete services for these stakeholders. Our vision is to promote governance processes for sustainability transitions, and our mission is to create a platform of collaboration for agents of change interested in the social and environmental challenges of Mexico City. We are now starting to implement three services to support the sustainability agents of change to promote a sustainability transition for Mexico City. If you are interested in following us and know more about our updates, you can register on our internet page, and social media.

Our three services are:


1. Connect

Serving as facilitators to co-create collaborative projects between different sustainability decisionmakers, that are aligned to the analysis of the sustainability priorities of Mexico City. Our current work is focused on developing a manual that gives alternatives to scale rainwater catchment methods in Mexico City schools. This, by understanding the technical possibilities for the rainwater harvesting construction but also the socially relevant issues to be addressed to include the community as well in the implementation and maintenance process of this infrastructure. We have co-created this project in different stages with over 150 sustainability decision-makers and interested stakeholders from the government, enterprises, NGOs, academia, international organizations, and students. The stakeholders were sometimes part of one or multiple stages of the process. To know more about this process, you can find information in this article.

Learning with Tricolor Coalition allies about rainwater catchment installation methods – SHENAMPA (local NGO) volunteer work together with SOEMA (Society of Energy and the Environment) from the National Autonomous University of Mexico

Tricolor Coalition Volunteers 2021-2022

2. Communicate

Diffusing information about sustainability transitions, systems thinking, and about how these tools can be applied to face social and environmental challenges in water, energy, and food in Mexico City. We have published 5 informative videos on Youtube, participated as presenters in 3 international academic conferences, and in one international business conference. Moreover, we have created educational social media posts, and shared it with our network of sustainability decision-makers in government, enterprises, NGOs and academia.

Doughnut City Portrait Workshop with Movimiento por el Agua (MOJA AC) to empower a group of agricultural women entrepreneurs

Link to Circular City Week

3. Construct

Individual or institutional diagnostic of their sustainability challenges, and recommendations on addressing them. We have made 2 institutional diagnostics using the Doughnut Economic City Portrait methodology, for an NGO and an enterprise. The feedback of both these workshops resulted positive reflections of how to bring interdisciplinarity and ownership over their sustainability transition processes.

Our Learnings

To get to where we are now, we have been working with around 20 volunteers that have participated with their knowledge, experiences, and networks to shape the Coalition as it is today. We greatly thank each of them for their time, ideas, and support in this process!

Based on our journey of the past years, we are happy to share some of the lessons we learned whilst building a Doughnut Economic Coalition to promote sustainability transition processes:

  1. The doughnut gives you the principles and reference points to define what a sustainability future could look like in the international sphere, but it does not give the content of the local necessities. Thus, if your aim is to understand what your local doughnut should look like, you can do it in two (complementary) ways: make a data analysis with the local indicators available, and/or ask the stakeholders themselves about their opinion of what the doughnut topics should be.
  2. The doughnut requires people to make it actionable. Working together with others since the beginning will enrich your creativity and resources to make this possible. It is good to actively select stakeholders, but also to work with the ones that look for you, who share similar goals, interests, and energy.
  3. If you want to make an actionable doughnut, there are many ways to do so. It is good to find a purpose and audience in your coalition to make an active community. Is it a doughnut that serves to inform, transform, or learn?
  4. When working with sustainability stakeholders (people interested in being part of the coalition), make mutual expectations clear from the start: identify what each of the stakeholders is interested in, what they want and can contribute to, what you expect from them and what you can and cannot provide. 
  5. Finding a structure that differentiates and distributes roles of the coalition members according to their availability, interest and type of support is very useful. In the case of the doughnut coalitions, it is useful to differentiate the members who are organizing the Coalition’s activities and other types of members that are making different activities. This serves to have clarity of what type of coalition you are building, and of how and why stakeholders are working together, even when the structure continues to change through time. 
  6. When working with volunteers, there may be important time availability constraints. However, it is important to keep a certain consistency in the work and maintain the team energy. For this, there should be certain guidance plans to what can people contribute to, and ways where their work and time has been acknowledged and recognized.
  7. It may seem that you are starting from scratch at the beginning, but THIS IS NOT TRUE! There will generally be previous work with a similar sustainability/circular economy/ecological perspective to reach a safe and just space in the place where you are working. Try to reach out to those people to learn from their past work, what their information or implementation gaps are, and what can you/they bring to the process.

What do we need to strengthen the Coalition?

After our two initial years of work, we have developed sufficient information to start the hands-on work. However, even when we have had constant interest of volunteers, we have acknowledged that we also need additional resources to have the quality of work we desire. For this, it is not possible to make it without sufficient human resources. For this reason, our current needs include:

  1. Funding. Initial funding to create a high-quality, and long-lasting platform to support sustainability stakeholders. Funding is also required to implement our first accelerate pilot project where we aim to achieve a collaboration between multiple stakeholders of different groups to promote the scaling of rainwater catchment methods in Mexico City schools with a governance approach. After this initial funding, we already have a business model to make a sustainable platform.
  2. Human Resources. As we have seen the need for a long-term platform, we require that there are other volunteers or human resources that can take time to support the projects and ideas that have been built during our processes to promote sustainability transitions based on the doughnut economic principles. 
  3. Strategic partnerships. Even though there has been interest in our approach, we do not yet have confirmation of some strategic partnerships that could help us strengthen our impact.  We have already started to work on this, but we are still in the process of connecting with other relevant stakeholders that can support us to promote sustainability transitions. We believe strategic partnerships are those people and institutions who are now sustainability decisionmakers who are making or advising on the water and energy policies, supporting related projects financially, or have the academic technical expertise that can confirm our learnings, results, and processes.





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