Southern African Journal of Environmental Education

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Shared commitments towards social resilience in populations vulnerable to extreme weather conditions

Ana Lucía Maldonado-González, Gloria Elena Cruz-Sánchez, Laura Odila Bello-Benavides, Edgar Javier González-Gaudiano


The processes involved in moving from vulnerability to resilience imply shared commitments between community and social actors. This paper documents such a shared experience among groups of high school learners from three cities in Veracruz state, Mexico, which have been periodically affected by extreme weather conditions. Earlier research carried out with high school learners and teachers analysed the resilience that the community demonstrated while coping with, and recovering from, an environmental contingency. In this initial research stage, we obtained information from official sources, and from questionnaires and interviews on the physical and social elements that impact the learners’ vulnerability. In addition, we identified the participants’ interest in being involved in processes to build resilient communities. With all this information, it was then possible to make progress in the development of strategies towards building the relevant capacities in those high school learners interested in becoming change agents in their own communities. The research also contributed to the creation of intra-community contingency support networks in the three municipalities participating in the study. In addition, high school learners and teachers became interested in initiating environmental protection activities and in taking on the commitment to communicate their concerns to decision-makers in their own communities to try and influence public policy. Accordingly, these actions and shared commitments can be seen to foster community and social resilience.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license, CC-BY-NC-SA. More information may be found at


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