Supporting sustainable transport in Mexico

By Carolina Ciprés, ZLC Director of Research at ZLC.

Leer versión en español


Like many nations, Mexico has adopted ambitious targets on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – a 22 per cent reduction by 2030. Transport, and especially road freight, accounts for a quarter of the country’s GHG, as well as black carbon and other noxious emissions.

The Mexican Government has teamed with the German Government to implement a bilateral Sustainable Transport Programme (PTS), which is being funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and being implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) in Mexico, the German organisation for International Cooperation. ZLC is delighted to have been contracted to deliver part of this programme in cooperation with ITAINNOVA.

The Sustainable Transport Programme is operating on three fronts. There is work on creating political dialogues and developing appropriate regulatory frameworks, from fleet renewal schemes to emission reporting and verification systems. There will be sub-national pilot projects, especially in urban logistics and the use of digital solutions to resolve the ‘last mile’ challenge. And critically there is a scheme of work around the provision of training and information that will professionalise the sector regarding creating the capacity for cleaner, more sustainable transport.

As part of this, ZLC has been commissioned to develop and deliver a ‘Train the Trainers’ programme. The aim is to engage with the professors and lecturers from Mexican Universities and other Institutions who are responsible, through their Masters and Doctoral programmes, for training the logistics leaders of tomorrow.  The course will ensure that these academics are up to speed both with technical and commercial developments in logistics and supply chain, especially in the context of sustainability, and, as importantly, are equipped to enthuse and enable the next generation of students to make real contributions to logistics sustainability ‘on the ground’ when they enter or return to industry.

It might seem surprising that senior academics should need this sort of training, but we know from our own experience how the daily pressures of supporting students, lecturing, research, and of course the never-ending filing of research proposals and grant applications, can make it hard to keep abreast of current and imminent developments. Logistics is a multi-disciplinary field: academics and even entire schools that are focussed on the economics, or the engineering, or the IT, can easily miss the wider picture, both of the subject itself and of the very rapidly evolving environment, including the sustainability challenge, in which it operates.

The course we have devised will be delivered at the beginning of 2022, online and in Spanish, to a group of academics. We are adapting the approach that has been so successful in our intensive 2-week PhD Summer Academy: a combination of group lectures and discussions, one-on-one mentoring, and coursework based on case studies and other materials.

The programme will have four modules. First, we will look at the broad trends in supply chain management, in sustainability, and in digitisation, and how they are coming together to impact transport and logistics. We will be discussing this in the light of emerging best practice and case studies, especially from European and Latin American experiences.

The second module will look more closely at sustainability. We will explore how the carbon footprint can be measured in the logistics sector: the key concepts, standards and protocols, and the tools and resources that are available, and will show how the carbon footprint can be calculated. We go on to examine how this accounting can be verified.

This module concludes by helping participants gain a strategic understanding of the risks and opportunities raised by the growing demand for sustainability and how the businesses that their students will be working in may be impacted. Participants will be equipped to show their students how to ensure businesses are compliant, how to roadmap and implement strategies that meet or exceed the requirements and how to align sustainability and CSR with profitable business strategies.

In the third module we will be looking more closely at digitalisation and how the emerging technologies can be harnessed to deliver on the sustainability agenda. We will be looking at digital transformation, at Industry 4.0 and the (Industrial) Internet of Things, and the role of big data and artificial intelligence, drawing on best practices from various industrial sectors. The use of digital twins, blockchains, and machine learning will also be topics for discussion.

Throughout, the course lecturers will be drawing on ZLC’s extensive base of knowledge and experience. But ‘Train the Trainer’ isn’t just, or even primarily, about the transfer of technological knowledge, and so the fourth and final module is in many ways the most important. Here we will share our ‘pedagogical’ experience: how to teach this syllabus to make a lasting impact on students, so that they in turn, through their work in their companies, create a multiplier effect. In these sessions participants will be mentored through our experiences of curriculum design and delivery, and required to show how they propose to incorporate what they have learned about sustainability in logistics into their own master’s and doctoral programmes.

This prospectus has been well-received: we registered over 30 applications in a single day, and the course is expected to be fully booked. In collaboration with GIZ Mexico, ZLC sees this as an exciting opportunity to plant the acorns from which sustainability oaks will grow.


For further information about the program contact Carolina Ciprés at [email protected].