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An integrated toolbox for deprived neighbourhoods

A local development strategy for neighbourhoods and areas of priority Intervention
Lisbon / Portugal
Size of city: 
546 245 inhabitants


Miguel Brito
Head Local Development Department, Lisbon City Council
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The Lisbon (PT) Local Development Strategy for Priority Intervention areas provides the city with a range of integrated toolbox based on a co-governance process. It organises and brings together a bottom-up participatory perspective that ensures a horizontal and collaborative local approach, to decrease and mitigate social, economic, environmental and urban exclusion and enhance social territorial cohesion. The tools used vary from neighbourhood mapping, a Local Partnerships Program funding local projects to a bottom-up co-governance model to promote employment, education and social-territorial cohesion. The results were visible at municipality and community levels. Only through the Program, 668 applications were submitted between 2011 and 2016, gathering 532 local stakeholders and partners, generating a total of 1 466 activities in the deprived areas. The toolkit helped Lisbon establish its own path, roadmap and goals, and set the civic participation and co-governance as a benchmark to ignite a sustainable Urban Local Development.

The solutions offered by the good practice

This good practice shows a co-construction of policies and strategies, concerning social and territorial cohesion and sustainable urban living, through a participative framework involving the community, sharing with the stakeholders the decisions, commitment and accountability in the implementation of BIP/ZIP Local Development Strategy.
The first tool, BIP/ZIP Mapping, identifies the Priority Intervention Territories of the city, according to the overlapping of Social, Economic, Urban and Environmental deprivation indexes that express the fracture of the city.
The second tool, BIP/ZIP Program, funds and ignites local community projects aimed to respond to local needs, promoting local organisations partnerships and empowering population to a sustainable urban development.
The third tool, GABIP local offices, develops a co-governance framework involving Municipality, Local Boroughs and all relevant stakeholders and citizens organisations. They promote an articulated response among the political, administrative and technical dimensions with local organisations and community.
The fourth tool, a Collaborative Platform for Community-Led Local Development (CLLD), is a bottom-up co-governance network that develops a global strategy to BIP/ZIP territories and promotes experience, sharing to enhance local partners’ skills.
These integrated tools impact citizens’ participation in tangible local development, offering a holistic approach that covers social, economic, urban and environmental dimensions.

Building on the sustainable and integrated approach

This good practice tackles urban challenges through participative diagnosis processes that identify social and territorial needs in order to eradicate poverty, social exclusion, unemployment and environmental problems.
BIP/ZIP strategy empowers the community to develop an integrated intervention through a bottom-up co-governance model that assures sustainable actions in deprived territories.
This approach is sustained by meaningful actions, assuring that these initiatives promote change with real impacts in the community. This strategy is designed to accommodate the different capability and maturity levels of each community. It is action and results’ oriented, so it can be flexible and adaptable to different realities and experiences. This flexibility is the key to actions and partnerships sustainability.
Other evidence of the sustainability and horizontal integration is the recent creation in the Municipality of the new Local Development Department, which means the recognition of the local development in BIP/ZIP territories.
Another key factor to achieve a sustainable challenge is the inclusion of local communities and their stakeholders in all BIP/ZIP local development approach. This means that when the community is involved in all parts of the process (thinking, decision making, implementation, and monitoring of results), it multiplies the sustainability of the action.

Based on a participatory approach

The BIP/ZIP Mapping was submitted to a public consultation to receive civil society, academy and Local Borough contributions on the identified deprived territories. This public consultation had more citizens participation than the equivalent public consultation of the Lisbon Master plan revision.
The BIP/ZIP Program supports activities and projects in BIP/ZIP neighbourhoods, and it’s one of the most participative processes of the city. This Program ignites local initiative, developed in partnership with Local Boroughs, local associations and NGOs, aimed at fostering social and territorial cohesion in Lisbon. In the six editions of the Program, a total of 232 projects has been approved, gathering 532 entities (152 stakeholders and 380 partners). These projects generated a total of 1 466 activities developed in BIP/ZIP territories, impacting an average of approximately 98 600 inhabitants each year.
Each annual edition of the Program is presented in an empowerment workshop to share experiences and good practices of previous editions that may be adopted by new candidates and applied in other BIP/ZIP territories.
These workshops have been attended, each year, by an average of 180 associations.
The GABIP local offices gather 20 inhabitants’ associations, 10 of the 24 Local Boroughs and other relevant local actors in the co-governance structures. The development of these projects and initiatives is always promoted by local stakeholders, the community and
the Municipality in Co-Governance.

What difference has it made?

The impact is felt on two levels. At the Municipality level, we underline:
• Greater cooperation between decision makers and local stakeholders/partners;
• Greater incorporation of local participation as a model for integrated municipal response;
• A political consensus on the BIP/ZIP concept, methodology and results;
• The creation of a new municipal department fully dedicated to Local Development.
At the Community Level, we underline:
• More transparency and confidence in the public decision-making process;
• More confidence in the municipality;
• Increased interest in volunteerism and active participation;
• Increased local partnerships / networks / cooperation to meet the own challenges;
• Increased local organisation capability to promote initiative/response/change;
• More efficient management of available resources (financial and non-financial);
• A process of co-responsibility, with an extremely high level of appropriation and sense of belonging to the initiatives and results;
• A mutual process (local administration/community) of accountability of the results;
• A high rate of success measured through effectiveness and sustainability of the initiatives and actions.
Between 2011 and 2016, with a total fund of €9,207,754, a total of 232 projects were approved, gathering 532 entities that participated both in the execution and sustainability phases. These projects generated a total of 1,466 activities developed in BIP/ZIP territories, impacting an average of approximately 98,600 inhabitants each year.

Why should other European cities use it?

Cities have a common focus in promoting socio-territorial cohesion through participatory local approach. This Local Development Strategy results in a smart, common, effective, flexible and pragmatic tool to implement a sustainable urban living that reinforces that social-territorial cohesion. It is an empowerment tool that sets the ground for real territorial co-management through local initiative and participation, which means that it can be of great interest to other cities, regardless of their local context and experience.
This good practice leads to a more inclusive city, hence its great interest, by promoting citizens active involvement and participation. It helps cities to establish their own path and goals, sets the participation as a benchmark for the development of deprived areas. Its tools are easy to follow and adapt or even to be used as a reference to create new ones.