Research and Innovation Fund

CAZMEX: Consortium for Arizona – Mexico Arid Environments

Consorcio Arizona – México para Ambientes Áridos

Vision, Objectives, and Implementation

The University of Arizona’s longstanding partnerships with Mexican institutions are built on scientific commitment, mutual societal goals, and shared vision to enhance the sustainability of arid environments and quality of life in the binational region. Arizona and Mexico are experiencing rapid growth and pressing social problems, which are exacerbated by climate change. To address shared challenges and responses, the Consortium for Arizona – Mexico Arid Environments (CAZMEX) will pursue three objectives:

  1. Generate basic scientific knowledge and monitor physical, biological, and social dynamics in the Sonoran Desert and other arid environments;
  2. Create the strategies that will be needed to improve quality of life and sustainably adapt to changes (including human resource development, increasing social mediation, and promoting partnerships between the private and public sectors); and
  3. Strengthen and forge new binational groups and partnerships of scientists to study the binational socio-ecological region.

CAZMEX will support the development and application of research, training, and outreach on the following strategic themes:

  • Climate extremes particularly drought
  • Water resources and their management
  • Ecosystem processes and services
  • Food systems
  • Renewable energy
  • Social and institutional dynamics and governance, and
  • Economic development.

Activities will include:

  1. Binational “Integrated Arid Environments” winter school – jointly developed by faculty of UA and Mexican partner institutions, the winter school will be held annually to provide conceptual as well as hands-on training to approximately 30 graduate students and junior scientists on topics drawn from the strategic themes, above.  The winter school will alternate between appropriate training locations in Arizona (e.g., Biosphere 2, UNAM Instituto de Ecología, etc.).  Participants will also develop grant-writing skills to help further their professional goals related to the Consortium.
  2. Competitive grant mechanism to leverage CONACYT-supported research projects and post-doc fellowships. The aim of the grants and post-doctoral fellowships is to contribute to the consolidation of the scientific, technological and innovative capacities of the region, particularly in relation to the environment and climate change in the arid and semi-arid zones of Mexico and the United States.
  3. Arid Environments regional summit to engage policy- and decision-makers.  In the third year of Phase I (2016-17), the Consortium will organize a major binational event intended to convey goals, results, policy actions, and outcomes that extend from the Consortium science and training programs.  Examples of similar events include the Border Energy Forum.

In 2013-14 and 2014-15, Consortium activities are being funded by the Mexican National Science and Technology Council (CONACYT). From 2014-17, the UA Foundation’s Haury Program in Environment and Social Justice and other UA funds will provide major support, which we anticipate will be matched by CONACYT (subject to further agreement).

The Consortium is proposed to operate from the UA Institute of the Environment’s (IE) Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions (CCASS), which provides the widest possible linkages with the Colleges of Science (COS), Social & Behavioral Science (SBS), Agriculture & Life Sciences (CALS), Eller College, Engineering, other colleges, Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy and units reporting to the Vice President for Research.

Dr. Christopher Scott has agreed to serve as the Consortium Director for Phase 1, extendable based on mutual interest.  The UA faculty advisory committee will be comprised of Dr. Laura Lopez-Hoffman, Dr. Christopher Castro, Dean Joaquin Ruiz, and Dr. Scott -- together representing CALS, SEES, COS, SBS/Udall/IE-CCASS, and respectively.

Consortium activities will be supported by Dr. Mitchell Pavao-Zuckerman and the UA Mexico Liaison Office headed by Mr. José Lever.