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Participatory Planning in the Brazilian Cerrado: Mainstreaming land use, climate adaptation, and vulnerability in the state-led program City for Us

The research highlights the urgency of communicating information about climate change, and to seeks to advance generalized knowledge about alternatives to mainstreaming land-use, climate adaptation, and vulnerability in participatory planning processes. It examines the state-led community-based planning process under the program City for Us (2005-2007), that took place in the state of Goiás, Brazil. My leading argument contemplates that vulnerability assessments developed through community-based planning processes might pave the way to further mainstreaming climate change adaptation in planning processes. The research investigates whether the planning process integrates vulnerability in the land-use discussion by the participants of the program. This research aimed to answer the question “How do land-use practices discussed in City for Us participatory planning processes relate to vulnerability, and what does this mean for how vulnerability can be relevant in other participatory planning.” The arguments for adaptation in this research are advanced through the lens of the social sciences, wherein the element vulnerability considers processes, practices, and governance-inequity issues. I investigate the vulnerability of human systems, which have experienced some sort of climate and or non-climate stress with limited capacity to cope or adapt. The vulnerability framework guiding the investigation encompasses the “architecture of entitlements” and “pressure and release” traditions in the climate change adaptation literature, which better suit the focus of the investigation than the “sustainable livelihood” and “socio-ecological” traditions. The exploratory design used in the research advances the qualitative paradigm that guides the ontology, epistemology, and methodology of my investigation, which is in unison with the constructionist perspective in the climate change adaptation literature that vulnerability is socially constructed. The analytical process combines an adapted constant comparative analysis, and a theoretical framework of vulnerability. Data collection methods include semi-structured interviews with purposely selected respondents that represented cities within the Goiânia Metropolitan Region while participants of the program City for Us. Journaling, field notes, and memos were also used. Triangulation materials are drawn from Brazilian’s national and state surveys, database, and archives including toolkits and publications used through the implementation of the program City for Us. The research found that vulnerability assessments developed through participatory planning processes facilitate further mainstreaming climate change adaptation, wherein policy makers and planners introduce more robust climate-related measures in further planning revisions. Research limitations concerned time and budget, accessibility to and availability of respondents, unintended pre-conceived theoretical frameworks, and the researcher’s positionality and roles. The research improves methodological frameworks for development of and revision of master plans, development policies, and development of capacity building initiatives that engages policy makers, managers and planning professionals, and the community at large in the advancement of climate adaptation.
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