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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Board on Environmental Change and Society
Board on Environmental Change and Society
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education
Sustainability Science in the US - Mexico Drylands Region: A Binational Workshop
Statement of Task

A steering committee of experts from the U.S. and Mexico will plan and conduct a binational workshop aimed at advancing sustainability science in the shared drylands region. The workshop will highlight existing sustainability research in the region and identify opportunities to address gaps in research through use-inspired research initiatives. This project is a collaboration between the US National Academy of Sciences and the Mexican Academy of Sciences, Academy of Engineering, and National Academy of Medicine. The workshop, sponsored by the Mexican Academies and the George and Cynthia Mitchell Endowment for Sustainability Sciences at the US National Academy of Sciences, will bring together academics, policymakers and practitioners in the region for an interactive discussion to explore the following:

  • The key sustainability challenges and vulnerabilities facing stakeholders in the Mexico-US drylands region, which is defined as the border region as well as adjoining drylands with shared ecological characteristics, natural-resource based activities (e.g., mining, irrigated agriculture) and socio-economic characteristics
  • Binational and regional research and sustainability approaches that are already in place to address these challenges
  • Potential binational priorities for research that could advance use-inspired research to promote sustainable development in this region, such as adaptive water management, health ecosystems, strengthening local and regional economics, enhancing community and population resilience, and reducing impacts on vulnerable populations.

A short, accessible summary (proceedings) of the workshop will be published in accordance with the U.S. National Academies' policies for such publications, including the standard review procedures. The summary will be a joint document published in English by the US National Academy Press and in Spanish by the Mexican Academies and will be used to help stimulate interest in additional bi-national collaborations.

The workshop will engage academics from both countries, potentially relevant agents (e.g., boundary organizations) capable of supporting the implementation of efforts to advance sustainability science and promote sustainable development in the region, key agencies in both countries, and philanthropic representatives.

Project Context and Issues:

The drylands border region shared by the United States and Mexico is currently facing multiple sustainability challenges at the intersection of the human and natural systems traversing the borders of both nations. Warming and drying conditions threaten surface water and groundwater availability, disrupt land and marine-based livelihood systems, and challenge the sustainability of human settlements in both nations. 

This is an important moment to provide an opportunity for collaborative planning and co-produced knowledge among diverse stakeholders and research communities on both sides of the border.

We have an unprecedented opportunity to create new platforms for collaboration. Both countries are rapidly increasing their capacity to understand climate-related challenges and opportunities, yet little has been done to develop the bi-national scientific, policy, and management capacity that is needed to promote sustainable development in the context of climate change.

The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will undertake this activity in collaboration with the Mexican Academy of Sciences, Academy of Engineering, and National Academy of Medicine. The workshop will help develop a shared understanding of the challenges facing the region, assess the scientific and technical capacity that each nation can bring to bear in addressing these challenges, and identify new opportunities for bi-national research collaboration and coordinated management approaches in the advancement of sustainability science and development.

The workshop is viewed as Phase I of a longer term collaboration which would include a consensus study aimed at a more systematic review and specification of recommendations for use-inspired sustainability research and sustainable interventions in the region.


Jordyn White, Study Director
David Allen, Senior Program Officer, BASC, DELS
Leticia Garcilazo Green, Senior Program Assistant

Mas información en español

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