Mérida makes use of existing infrastructure, converts informal housing to sustainable buildings, and tackles increasing congestion via its new Urban Development Program to ensure sustainable growth.

The Mexican city of Mérida has formed an Urban Development Program to ensure sustainable growth. The program aims to halt Mérida’s urban sprawl by encouraging growth within the inner city, where public services already exist and 1,700 hectares lay unoccupied. Informal rural settlements will be transformed into orderly settlements provided with infrastructure, public services, resilience procedures, and climate change mitigation measures.

The long-term urban vision will ensure the city’s further growth stays on the green path. To make this happen, the plan will incentivize sustainable housing investments, energy efficiency, and the development of low-emission public transport. This will also involve densification of the city to ensure a more effective use of public services and energy use. In making the development plan, the city involved more than 21,000 participants in workshops and actions on environmental awareness as well as more than 7,000 experts and citizens in the formulation of the program.

9 meters squared of green space per person when the plan is fully implemented, as recommended by the World Health Organization

The challenge

With a fourfold increase in cars since 2003, and the number of homes rising from 120,000 to 323,000 in the last few decades, Mérida needed a plan to tackle intense traffic and urban sprawl.


Economic The conversion of housing to sustainable buildings and improved efficiency of public expenditure will save money.

Environmental Zoning in the development plan will secure the preservation of forest land, and changing consumption habits will reduce waste generation.

Social Inhabitants will be living in compact, accessible, permeable, and connected urban areas with a high level of urban functionality.

Health Increased space for urban recreational activities, reduction of heat islands, and an increase in non-motorized mobility will all contribute to healthier lifestyles in the city.

About Mérida

Mérida is the capital and largest city of the Mexican state of Yucatán as well as the largest city of the Yucatán Peninsula. It is located in the northwest part of the state, about 35 kilometres (22 miles) from the Gulf of Mexico coast. It is the largest of the four cities of the world that share the name Mérida, the other three being in Spain, Venezuela, and the Philippines.

View profile

Global Goals addressed