Guadalajara, Mexico’s Metropolitan Governance Laboratory


City Profile:

Guadalajara is the largest non-capital Spanish-speaking city in Latin America with almost 5 million inhabitants. The Metropolitan Area of Guadalajara is comprised by nine neighboring municipalities within the state of Jalisco: Guadalajara, Zapopan, Tlajomulco de Zúñiga, San Pedro Tlaquepaque, Tonalá, El Salto, Ixtlahuacán de los Membrillos, Juanacatlán and Zapotlanejo. Guadalajara is the 10th largest city in Latin America in population, urban area ,  and gross domestic product.





David Gómez-Álvarez is currently a visiting scholar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Executive President of Transversal Think Tank. He has been a consultant for UNDP, UN Habitat, and the World Bank. He is author of the book Education in Federalism: Decentralization of Educational Policy in Mexico, and editor of Institutional Capacities of Local Governments in Mexico, among other publications. He has held high level positions in the public sector and has actively participated in civil society organizations and civic initiatives in his country. He holds a Ph.D. in public administration from New York University (NYU) and an M.Sc. in public policy from the London School of Economics (LSE).

Efrén Osorio Lara is National Consultant and Projects Coordinator for the UN-Habitat Programme Office in Jalisco. As a public servant, Osorio Lara served as Electoral District Adviser during local elections, Adviser to the President of the General Council of the Electoral Institute and Citizen Participation of Jalisco, and Head of Sister Cities and International Affairs of the Municipal Government of Zapopan. He also has authored several publications related to transparency, public policies, globalization, and democracy. Osorio Lara has also worked in the UN-Habitat office in Colombia. He holds a B.A. in international relations from ITESO University and an M.A. in public policy from the Hertie School of Governance (HSoG) in Berlin. He has also studied development and civic organizations’ professionalization at INDESOL, and project management, Protocol, and public relations at ITESO University.

Karina Blanco Ochoa is currently studying a Master’s Degree in development studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in the United Kingdom. Before joining LSE, she worked at the Under-Secretariat of Planning and Evaluation of Jalisco State Government, where she coordinated Guadalajara’s metropolitan agenda along with technical cooperation with international organizations such as the World Council on City Data (WCCD) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). Her international experience includes being selected as a member of the Mexican Delegation to the G20 Youth Summit, held in Turkey in 2015; an internship at the Permanent Mexican Delegation to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris; and an academic exchange at the Universitat Autonoma of Barcelona (UAB) in Barcelona. She holds a B.A. in international relations from the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM), in Guadalajara, Mexico.


The emergence and consolidation of metropolitan areas all over the globe has brought with it several defiant issues with political, social, environmental, urban and legal implications. Thus, the achievement of effective metropolitan governance has become one of the most pressing challenges of our time. In this context, the absence of institutional scaffoldings and legal frameworks at metropolitan scale happens to be a common problematic faced by the great majority of metropolis, especially those located in Latin America. Mexico’s metropolitan development is no exception to the aforementioned problematic. As the Mexican Constitution does not recognize metropolis neither as an administrative unit nor as a governmental level, there is no institutional framework for legislating metropolis. Hence, the impossibility of legal recognition and the lack of institutional scaffoldings for metropolitan management are some of the systemic problems to attend. This chapter presents the case of the Metropolitan Area of Guadalajara (MAG), a conurbation that has led an unprecedented effort in Mexico to consolidate a robust metropolitan governance structure. Such governance regime implied the creation of three Metropolitan Coordination Entities (MCE) that represent both government and civil society. These are: the Metropolitan Coordination Committee, the Metropolitan Planning Institute, and the Citizen Metropolitan Council. As a result of this new institutional architecture at the metropolitan level, the first metropolitan-scale planning instrument has been recently developed, aiming to achieve an effective coordination across the metropolis, as well as an accurate territorial planning strategy.