skip to primary navigation skip to content

Karen Wong-Pérez, MSc MPhil

Karen Wong-Pérez, MSc MPhil

PhD candidate. Thesis title: Understanding the links between the Natural Environment and local perceptions of Human Well-being and Environmental Justice in San Felipe, Yucatán, México.

My research aims to explore the local notion of 'Environmental Justice' in a fishing community of Yucatan, México. By understanding the local perception of how the natural environment contributes to a 'good life' my research aims to understand how poverty and human well-being metrics relate to local notions of environmental justice.



  • 2014-2015: Independent Consultant for organizations including:
    1. UN Environment-OCHA Environment Unit (JEU) of the United Nations Environment Programme and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs -
    2. PACÍFICO, a platform comprised of five trust funds in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Colombia and Panamá
    3. Tarahumara Foundation, Mexican NGO focused on the development of indigenous communities living in the Tarahumara Sierra, Chihuahua, México.
  • 2012-2013: Knowledge Management and Mexico Mosaics Initiative (MMI) Program Manager - The Nature Conservancy (TNC). The MMI is a 10-year collaborative initiative between TNC, local NGO's, government agencies, multilaterals and private sector around a common vision of conservation, economic development and human well-being.
  • 2005-2012: Strategic Partnerships and Capacity Building Program Manager. The Nature Conservancy - Mexico Program
  • 1999-2005: Coordinator of the Environmental Leadership Program 'Friends of Nature' - Tecnológico de Monterrey. Environmental Quality Centre


  • PhD candidate (Geography), University of Cambridge, 2015 - Present
  • MPhil (Conservation Leadership) University of Cambridge (Distinction)
  • MSc (Environmental Systems and Natural Resources Management) Tecnológico de Monterrey, México
  • BSc (Chemical Engineering with minor in Environmental Engineering) - Tecnológico de Monterrey, México

Honours and awards

  • Tim & Wendy Whitmore Fund - Fieldwork funds (2016)
  • CONACYT Cambridge Trust Scholarship (2015 - 2018)
  • Santander Cambridge Trust Scholarship (2013 - 2014)
  • CONACYT Scholarship (2013 - 2014)
  • Churchill College Grant 2014
  • Recognition as one of the 2012 'Ethical Heroes'. The Nature Conservancy, 2012
  • CODA Fellowship. The Nature Conservancy. 2011 - 2012
  • Student Leadership Award. Granted by the Student Union Department. Monterrey Tech Institute. December, 2000
  • State Youth Award- Conservation and Environment Category: Granted by Nuevo Leon State Government. Honorific Mention. Monterrey, Nuevo, León, 2004.


Since 2001, México adopted a multidimensional approach for the measurement of poverty, in relation to the Law of Social Development. Although the 'right to enjoy a healthy environment' (Article 6) is granted by the Law, the environmental dimension is the only measure missing in the current indicators for social development. The doctoral research aims to understand the level of dependence of different groups on the natural environment and the role of natural resources' access in the social dynamics of exclusion. Research was undertaken in the municipality of San Felipe, a fishing community of Yucatán, México between summer 2016 and spring 2017. A geographically systematic sampling approach was used, in addition to semi-structured interviews, household surveys and focus groups. Preliminary findings suggest that current poverty metrics do not accurately reflect environmental wellbeing since they are not capturing the negative economic and health effects of the low water quality coming from cenotes ('sink-holes'), and the disproportionate negative effect in vulnerable groups, especially low-income, the elderly and breastfeeding children. Additionally, the research found increased vulnerability of individuals and groups who are recently-arrived residents or seasonal residents who experience a double exclusion, as they are neither covered by state social programmes nor embedded in community support networks. Understanding the relationship between the asymmetrically low access of individuals and groups to vital natural resources and vulnerability is essential to understand the processes that perpetuate social disadvantage.


Selected publications and presentations

  • Wong-Pérez, Karen Jossuely & Lasch-Thaler, Cristina (2012) Measuring the success of the Management Capacity Building Program for Marine Protected Areas in the Gulf of California, Knowledge Management for Development Journal, 8:1, 93-104.
  • Wong-Pérez, Karen Jossuely (2007); Biochemical functions of geophagy in the maroon-fronted parrot (Rhynchopsitta terrisi). December. Monterrey, Mexico. MSc Thesis.
  • Wong-Perez, Karen Jossuely; Ramos, Daniel. (2007) Capacity building processes for Protected Areas Managers. Paper presented at the II Latin American Parks Congress, Bariloche, Argentina. October.
  • Wong, Karen Jossuely; Enkerlin-Hoeflich, E.C; Marroquin, R.; Correa-Sandoval, A. Nelly; (2005) Environmental Paradigm Shift and Community Benefit. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the North American Association For Environmental Education, Oct 24, 2005

External activities

  • Member of the Ecosystem-Based Management Tools Network
  • Member of the Efroymson Coaches Network for Conservation Planning (CCNET): Conservation Planning Coach
  • Board Member of CreeSer, a Mexican NGO with focus on Education for Peace
  • Commission Member - IUCN WCPA Europe Region in the Capacity Development Network, the Indigenous People and Protected Areas Specialist Group and the Management Effectiveness Network for 2017 - 2020