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Santos, Brazil
The Municipality of Santos, located partly on an island and partly on the continent, is an important port and tourist centre in Brazil. Santos also has a large industrial complex, the production activities of which have caused serious environmental degradation. As such, environmental issues have been given priority during the last eight years, and in 1993 the municipal government set up an environmental secretariat, Secretariade Meio Ambiente (SEMAM).

Since 1989 there has been an explicit policy of incorporating civil society into Santos' municipal decision-making process. With the objective of enhancing citizen participation, the government opened channels of communication with established organizations and created municipal councils on transport, health, education, the black community, women and disabled people. As a result of these successful actions, community participation in environmental initiatives became part of local government strategy.

In 1993, Santos became an ICLEI member as a result of the organization's recognition of the city's restoration of its beaches. This project involved the local government, the state sewage agency and the community. As a consequence of the community participation, Santos was chosen for the MCP.

In October 1994, the secretary of environment and a Project Team formed by members from eleven municipal offices started the LA 21 planning process in Santos. The team was responsible for coordinating the MCP and for implementing decisions made by the stakeholder group.The first task of the Project Team was to increase community and municipal awareness of the LA 21 planning process. This was accomplished through public seminars, short courses and meetings within and outside of Santos. The link was then established between LA 21, the MCP and the Santos planning process.

The objectives of the LA 21 were to reverse the process of environmental degradation that was effecting the economic and social conditions of the municipality, and to improve the quality of life for the local population and tourists. It was hoped that with international support, the LA 21 planning process would convey the main environmental issues to different social actors, attract public support for environmental policies and help establish partnerships to carry out the necessary actions.

Partnership Building
The Project Team was the primary decision-making and coordinating body for the MCP in Santos. It consisted of staff from the Environmental Secretariat and representatives from health, housing, social services and a local university. A community-based stakeholder group was not created when the LA 21 planning process was initiated.

At the end of 1995, when the community-consultation process reached a bottleneck, the Project Team was convinced of the necessity to have a stakeholder group to keep the process manageable and sustainable. There were too many sectors bringing in too many projects for immediate action, and a clear process of priority-setting was lacking. Consequently, all participants in the community-consultation process were invited to enlist for membership in the stakeholder group, along with members of civil society and government. In June, 1996 the stakeholder group was made official by a municipal decree. The group comprised seventy-six voluntary members, but did not include some environmental NGOs, the press or the port administration.

When solid waste was designated as the priority issue, some groups, mainly those lobbying for low-income housing, lost interest in participating. Municipal elections and political disputes also contributed to a decreased participation in meetings, which were attended by the Project Team and an average of twenty to twenty-five members of the stakeholder group.

Since the stakeholder group included people with very different cultural, social and educational backgrounds, the ability of group members to participate in the planning process varied. Tools and methods used for capacity-building included open discussions about environmental problems in the municipality and how these problems could be solved, seminars on the identified themes, and short courses.The group related to the municipality through the Secretary of the Environment.

No structural or functional changes were made in the municipality resulting from the experiences of the stakeholder group. However, the Waste Recycling Program, chosen as the priority action, was expanded and finally included the "scavengers." The capacity for understanding, discussion and negotiation for consensus-building increased considerably, especially among the less educated and those with no prior history of participation. This created greater opportunity for the success of the environmental actions subsequently taken in the municipality.

The financial resources required for the process were minimal and unaccounted. A change of local government in late 1996 resulted in all members of the Project Team leaving their municipal posts and the team dissolving. The LA 21 process was reactivated by the new government in May 1997.

Community-Based Issue Analysis
The Project Team and Secretary of Environment decided that the seven public seminars that had taken place would be considered as the community-consultation process for issue identification, and to pursue priority setting through the stakeholder group.

In November 1994, the community consultation process had identified numerous issues for community education and discussion. It also identified local projects for joint implementation between the municipality and the various organizations and institutions of Santos. The first three seminars discussed the local situation, the environmental problems of the municipality, and the way that the MCP should be conducted in Santos. Participation in seminars was free, and any person or institution of the municipality could present a project pertaining to the specified seminar theme. The Project Team coordinator felt that the community should experience how to build a project from an idea, and how to build consensus about which projects should receive municipal support. The most important outcome of the seminars was an increased awareness of problems, and the exchange of views, knowledge and experience.

After deciding that the stakeholder group would set the priorities, the Project Team and the Secretary of Environment selected three projects that the administration had set as priorities: Bathing Suitability of the Sea Waters, Risk Prevention on the Hills and the Waste Recycling Program. The stakeholder group was given the task of deciding which should be the focus of Santos' LA 21. The group adopted criteria that the project should benefit the entire municipality in order to get public support, involve many participants, have strong community participation and benefit the environment while bringing social progress. Solid waste recycling was chosen as the highest priority issue.

Issue Assessment
In June, 1996 the stakeholder group created a working group to diagnose the solid-waste situation in Santos. The group comprised six non-government members and one member from the Secretariat of the Environment. Each member collected information on the issue of solid waste in Santos from a specific municipal or state office, or from universities or experts.

Links between the social and environmental aspects of the solid-waste problem were identified. The municipality provided the facilities, and members of the stakeholder group volunteered their time.

The issue-assessment and analysis phase produced a document entitled Solid Waste Diagnosis that contained a overview of the municipality's solid waste problem. As a result of the assessment, the recycling programme was expanded to cover the entire urban area and participation of scavengers was enhanced.

Action Planning, Implementation and Monitoring
The municipality did not prepare an action plan, but the LA 21 planning process focused on solid-waste recycling activities. Solid waste is a serious problem for Santos and actions had to focus on long-term solutions.

When solid waste was selected as the priority issue for the MCP in March 1996, the Project Team, in concert with the stakeholder group and representatives of municipal offices, decided to expand the Waste Recycling programme, which had been an experimental project in Santos since 1990. It was expanded to include the entire urban area and to integrate scavengers into the collection of recyclable waste. Community groups and five different secretariats of the municipality implemented the programme.

The actions resulted in commitments from stakeholders to provide financing, time and materials to implement the waste-management strategy. The Secretariat of Environment coordinated the Waste Recycling Program. The Secretariat of Community Action was responsible for conducting social work with the scavengers. Seniors' groups were responsible for the door-to-door awareness-raising programme. Despite the election of a new municipal government in Santos, the Waste Recycling programme is still being implemented. Santos' LA 21 project received national recognition and many municipalities in Brazil became interested in adopting similar actions and solutions.

The main positive result of the implementation stage of the LA 21 planning process was the strong commitment of some social groups to the programme, such as seniors, scavengers and schools.

Outcomes of the MCP
Even though the process is not yet complete, there are many important results of the LA 21 planning process in Santos, as discussed above. A highlight is the national attention Santos received, which reinforced the local government's commitment to the environment and sustainable development. In addition, former members of the Project Team have set up an LA 21 NGO.

Lessons Learned from the LA 21 Planning Process
  • Education programmes should begin early in the process with the understanding that they require considerable time.
  • The participation of low-income earners may be constrained by living and working conditions. Their needs should be considered.
  • Sustainable-development planning must be viewed as a process that requires constant action, maturation time and adaptation. It cannot be viewed as a product.
  • An informal political coalition of many sectors and social actors is needed to develop joint actions.
  • Actions are most successful when they incorporate all affected actors into the decision-making process.
  • Stakeholder groups should have a balance of various community sectors, as well as adequate financial support. In Santos, greater participation by under-represented groups, particularly business, the tourism industry, the port authority and the press, would have been desirable.
  • Data collection efforts that involve diverse groups within the municipality and community can increase interest, information and participation in the process.
  • To move from action planning to implementation, great effort must be made to discuss, raise awareness and negotiate.
  • Stakeholder groups can be effective in keeping the process manageable and sustainable.