Natural Capital of Mexico

Geographical coverage

Geographical scale of the assessment National
Country or countries covered Mexico
Any other necessary information or explanation for identifying the location of the assessment, including site or region name

Latin America

Conceptual framework, methodology and scope

Assessment objectives

Provide the scientific basis to call for action of all sectors of society to promote the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. In particular, the work was planned to stimulate a greater appreciation for the tremendous value of ecosystem services provided by the varied nature of the country (natural capital), while providing a significant amount of information that can be adopted by different orders of government to help define to help define public policies with an appropriate balance between two key axes in order to progress toward sustainability: the social welfare of Mexicans and best management practices and conservation of Mexico's natural heritage.

Mandate for the assessment

Natural Capital of Mexico has a background of previous assessments and analyses of Mexico’s biodiversity, in accordance with the responsibilities of our country as a signatory of the Convention on Biological Diversity. It is also updated in the light of conceptual advances, new data, and the development of new technologies and methods of data analysis, with the broad participation of specialists.

Conceptual framework and/or methodology used for the assessment

Other (please specify)

The conceptual framework used was based in part on the “Millennium Ecosystem Assessment”, but was adapted to the particular circumstances and characteristics of Mexico. Was also based on three key principles (suggested by Cash et al. 2003): 1] Relevance (provide updated and non-prescriptive relevant information for the solution of problems), 2] Legitimacy (participatory open process not influenced by politics) and 3] Credibility (participation of renowned specialist and traceable primary data).

URL or copy of conceptual framework developed or adapted

Natural Capital of Mexico

System(s) assessed

  • Marine
  • Coastal
  • Island
  • Inland water
  • Forest and woodland
  • Cultivated/Agricultural land
  • Grassland
  • Mountain
  • Dryland
  • Urban

Species groups assessed

Mainly vertebrates

Ecosystem services/functions assessed


  • Food
  • Water
  • Timber/fibres
  • Genetic resources
  • Raw materials


  • Climate regulation
  • Moderation of extreme events
  • Regulation of water flows
  • Regulation of water quality
  • Erosion prevention
  • Pollination
  • Pest and disease control
  • Biological control

Supporting Services/Functions

  • Nutrient cycling
  • Primary production
  • Life cycle maintenance
  • Maintenance of genetic diversity

Cultural Services

  • Recreation and tourism
  • Inspiration for culture

Scope of assessment includes

Drivers of change in systems and services


Impacts of change in services on human well-being


Options for responding/interventions to the trends observed


Explicit consideration of the role of biodiversity in the systems and services covered by the assessment


Timing of the assessment

Year assessment started


Year assessment finished


If ongoing, year assessment is anticipated to finish

Periodicity of assessment


Assessment outputs


Sarukhán, J., et al. (2009). Capital natural de México. Síntesis: conocimiento actual, evaluación y perspectivas de sustentabilidad. Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad, México

Sarukhán, J. et al. 2010. Natural Capital of Mexico. Synopsis: Current knowledge, evaluation, and prospects for sustainability. Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad, Mexico.

Communication materials (e.g. brochure, presentations, posters, audio-visual media)

Poster: Identifying science-based information needs for decision making to reduce biodiversity loss in Mexico (Presented at: Planet Under Pressure Conference. March 26-29, 2012. London

Journal publications

Sarukhán, J., Koleff, P. and T. Urquiza-Haas. 2010. Evaluación del capital natural de México: conocimiento, conservación y manejo sustentable. Forum de Sostenibilidad 4:127-134

Training materials

Other documents/outputs

CONABIO dos décadas de historia. 1992-2012

Patrimonio Natural de México cien casos de éxito. Capital natural de México

Tools and processes

Tools and approaches used in the assessment

  • Modelling
  • Geospatial analysis
  • Indicators
  • Economic valuation
  • Social (non-monetary) valuation
  • Ecosystem mapping

Process used for stakeholder engagement in the assessment process and which component

Natural Capital of Mexico was performed under the guidance of a general coordinator that gave the vision of the study and its essential products, and a group of editors for each of the volumes that named the authors responsible for the chapters and harmonized different experiences to fulfill the assessment goals of each volume. The general coordinator and the editors are prominent scientists that have comprehensive experience working on biodiversity issues and a true power to convene experts on the different fields of study needed for the national ecosystem assessment. The authors responsible for the chapters, in turn, invited contributors to enrich the content of the chapters and to illustrate various processes or situations.

Key stakeholder groups engaged

● 648 authors from 227 institutions (government, academia, NGO) ● Secretaria de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources)

The number of people directly involved in the assessment process


Incorporation of scientific and other types of knowledge

  • Scientific information only

Supporting documentation for specific approaches, methodology or criteria developed and/or used to integrate knowledge systems into the assessment

Assessment reports peer reviewed



Accessibility of data used in assessment

In some of the volumes, data relating to the material of the chapters (additional information of tables and primary data) was presented in an attached compact disc. In the case of volume I, a disc was also included which contained a species list of animals, plants, fungi and microorganisms that are known in Mexico to date, and which will is also available online at the CONABIO website so that interested specialists may consult, update, add and edit this list of Mexican species. This database is the first national effort of its type: it does not claim to be comprehensive or complete but rather aims to stimulate the interest of specialists of different groups in the world, for the improvement of our knowledge of Mexican biota.

Policy impact

Impacts the assessment has had on policy and/or decision making, as evidenced through policy references and actions


Independent or other review on policy impact of the assessment


Lessons learnt for future assessments from these reviews

None until now (to our knowledge no independent assessment has been conducted so far).

Capacity building

Capacity building needs identified during the assessment

Mainfold, v.g. : Need to develop human, institutional and financial capacities in order to: ● Further promote the value of biodiversity and ecosystem services (needs to become a prevailing subject in all spheres of society) ● Cover gaps in biological information ● Further integrate existing information ● Enhance interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary work ● Necessity to create early warning programs (threats to biodiversity) and long term time series of strictly comparable data (trends of change) ● Promote citizen participation (citizen science) ● Development of cross-sectorial environmental public policies and programmes (governmental transversality of the environmental agenda) ● Evaluations of current strategies aimed at the maintenance of biodiversity components, ecosystem processes and services (sufficiency and success).

Actions taken by the assessment to build capacity

Network and sharing experiences, Sharing of data/repatriation of data, Workshops, Communication and awareness raising

How have gaps in capacity been communicated to the different stakeholders

A synopsis was produced to highlight the core aspects of the first three volumes of Natural Capital of Mexico (including the manifold aspects that need to be improved in order to move towards the sustainable management of biodiversity). Further the current volumes (Volume I, II and III) contain a section of lessons learned.

Knowledge generation

Gaps in knowledge identified from the assessment

Yes, this assessments also permits to identify priorities for future attention and new research areas.

How gaps in knowledge have been communicated to the different stakeholders

Will be published in a chapter of volume IV (in process)

Additional relevant information

As part of the assessment (Natural capital of Mexico) Conabio and UNDP-Mexico coordinated the project: “Mexico: Needs Assesment and Priority Setting for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity” funded by the Global Environmental Facility. Results of this project were published in a book entitled Mexico: capacities for conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. (available in Spanish and English).