Originally posted 10/03/2016
Over the next few months, we’re going to use our blog to introduce our MEGADAPT team members from ASU and UNAM. We’ll highlight who our team is, why they’ve decided to be a part of MEGADAPT, and their hopes for the project. First, we’re introducing Hallie Eakin. Hallie Eakin is the Principle Investigator (PI) for the MEGADAPT Project and is an associate professor in the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University.
1) What motivated you to become a part of MEGADAPT?
The MEGADAPT project grew out of an effort to increase research collaborations between ASU and UNAM. Initially we, ASU and UNAM, had a small joint grant that allowed us to outline common area of interests, problem areas, areas in which we had complimentary strengths, and faculty in both institutions that would be available to address these common interests. We concluded that there was great interest in addressing urban sustainability.
The MEGADAPT project thus emerged out of a combination of my own interests/expertise in vulnerability and risk, others’ interest in focusing on Mexico’s emblematic history of water management , and the common area interest of urban sustainability.
For me, the project has been a new experience because in the past my work has been primarily focused on household level analysis in rural areas, not in an urban context. I’ve learned, however, that many of the same issues that create vulnerability in rural spaces are relevant in the heart of Mexico City.
2) What do you consider to be your specific contribution/role in the MEGADAPT project?
As the PI for the project, I have the designated role of overseeing the project. I make sure it stays on track with the timeline, meets our stated objectives, and produces materials/information/knowledge that addresses the interests and needs of communities with which we are working. The role of coordinator is challenging- I’ve previously only worked with smaller groups of scholars (the MEGADAPT project has had upwards of 20 participants at any given time!).
And because this project seeks to achieve transdisciplinarity, it has been a challenge to keep the project relevant to the actors we have engaged with over time. We are constantly trying to find ways in which to engage stakeholders and make the project salient to them.
3) What do you hope the outcomes from this project will be?
We want to be able to say that the MEGADAPT model is gaining recognition as a useful tool for decision-making in Mexico City (and, even more ambitiously, as a decision-making model for other cities around the world). And, that through using the tool, decision-makers can start to re-think the way that the city works and how vulnerability is produced within it. We hope it inspires innovative ideas to tackle the water issues in the city.
4) Why is Mexico City a special place to work?
One of the things that I love about Mexico City is the incredible diversity of culture and ways of life that are packed together in this massive megalopolis. There is a constant surreal juxtaposition between modern and traditional life. In a street full of traffic there are cars, but there are also street sellers on bikes loaded with balloons or toting giant piñatas. There is incredible beauty in the meticulously balanced carts of street vendors and in the services that the provide – many services that are completely unavailable in cities here in the US. I love this city.
A collaborative project seeking to improve capacities for risk management in Mexico City and to serve as a model for climate-change adaptation in developing countries.