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NEWS: New book – Citizen participation in climate compatible development planning

Citizens have knowledge and access to resources that enable them to develop a sustainable vision for their community. This is one of the findings from a CDKN-funded project in Maputo, Mozambique. Vanesa Castán Broto, one of the project’s leads, talks about the newly published practitioners’ handbook that looks at ways to engage with communities for climate compatible development.

The book ‘Participatory Planning for Climate Compatible Development’ advances a key argument concerning the need to involve urban citizens in local action for climate adaptation. The book presents insights from a CDKN-funded project called Public-Private-People Partnerships for Climate Compatible Development (2011-2013). The project brought together policy makers, academics and activists from Mozambique in partnership with a group of ‘UK based pracademics’ (practice-oriented academics).

The project focused on two fundamental concerns. Firstly, we perceived that much of the response to climate change, for both mitigation and adaptation, related to the management of infrastructure at a local level. Here, there is a wealth of evidence to suggest that in the absence of capacity and resources for action, a myriad of actors from small business to community organisations can play a role in delivering sustainable outcomes at a local level. Hence, we focused on the notion of partnerships as a means to build capacity through the collaboration between different types of institutions. We challenged the notion that public-private partnerships are the only way to achieve effective partnerships. Instead, we focused on the variety of cross-sectoral partnerships that may improve service delivery at a local level.

Secondly, we believe that creating long-lasting partnerships requires a process of institutional development whereby sectors of the city whose voice may not always be heard could be incorporated in thinking about the future of their neighbourhood and the city as a whole. Participatory planning was conceptualised as a means to develop such institutions and to establish a process of dialogue from the bottom up. Our insights suggest that, in an urban context, participatory planning does not pose an obstacle for effective climate action and furthermore may be the most effective means to deliver it.

Deliberative planning methods are appropriate in developing a democratic culture of partnership-making, whilst recognising the human rights of urban populations and how they perceive their life could be improved. Participatory methods are also efficient and fast in determining the best way to improve the adaptation of communities that suffer the impacts of climate change. In that sense, this book reports on our experience including: the need to tie climate change knowledge to personal experiences of extreme events such as flooding; the practical difficulties that we encountered to deliver participatory planning as a sequence of events; and the aspiration that participatory planning could lead to broader changes though a process of partnership building.

Our objective was to deliver an optimistic and forward-looking account of how to engage with communities for climate compatible development in a matter that makes a difference to their lives. The book also exposes, the limitations of a one-off engagement project in creating lasting, transformative change. In this sense, we acknowledge this book as merely the beginning of a long engagement with the communities of Maputo, in order to determine their aspirations, and the multiple possibilities to create a better city in the context of climate change.

Building Collaborative Partnerships for Climate Change Action in Maputo, Mozambique by Vanesa Castán Broto; Jonathan Ensor; Emily Boyd; Charlotte Allen; Carlos Seventine and Domingos Augusto Macucule is a practitioners’ handbook that builds upon the experience of a pilot project (4PCCD) that was awarded the United Nations ‘Lighthouse Activity’ Award. It is available to download for free.

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