Local Solidarity Governance: Strategies in Promoting Social Inclusion

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Porto Alegre

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Main actors

Local Government, Private Sector, NGO / Philanthropy, Regional Government, Community / Citizen Group

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Project area

Whole City/Administrative Region

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Ongoing since 2000/01

This program focuses on a change of culture and the way of considering citizens and political agencies.

This program does not focus on one single social practice, but rather upon a change of culture and the way of considering citizens and political agencies. As can be seen from the background history of the Local Solidarity Governance Implementation (GSL), this fits with objectives of the current application, as it raises public awareness of the challenges of the urban era and identifying solutions, together with disseminating a new concept based on the solidary management of public affairs and innovative changes in the ways of thinking about the relations and responsibilities of the inhabitants of the city. The Foundations of GSL are: plurality, dialog, consensus, social capital, transversality, and territory.

Sustainable Development Goals

Reduce inequality within and among countries
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Porto Alegre, Brazil

Size and population development
2011: 3,933,000; 1990: 2,934,000; 2025: 4,627,000; 2010-2015: +1,11% / year

Population composition
ethnic diversity with a majority of catholics and protestants

Political structure
the legislative with a city council (Câmara Municipal) and the executive with the major and its cabinet formed by secretaries.

Administrative structure
81 Bairro (districts)

Local Solidary Governance aims to demonstrate that the city is ready to create alternatives that remove the boundaries imposed by internal inequalities, bringing a leap in the quality of the city’s social management, with its sights on the Sustainable development of its districts, territories and neighbourhoods. The project strives to promote a reformulation of the relationship between public authorities and society and the municipal administration model itself.
Institutionally, PGSL is seen to be innovative by basing public administration on the following principles: plurality (recognizing that society consists of multiple differences), dialog (contributing towards society becoming a system of connections that are always open and respectful), and consensus (forming a community of projects and pacts for social responsibility for sustainable development).
Local Solidary Governance aims to demonstrate that the city is ready to create alternatives that remove the boundaries imposed by internal inequalities, bringing a leap in the quality of the city’s social management, with its sights on the Sustainable development of its districts, territories and neighbourhoods.
The GSL is dedicated to organizing networks of political participation in Porto Alegre in view of the innovative experimentation with a new pattern for the relationship between state and society. The networks are initially organised in thirty regions of the city and will proceed into 82 neighbourhoods and settlements. The steps for implementation of the GSL in this first round of regional coverage comprised the public launch of the proposal, training the first network energizers, setting up connection teams, constructing GSL networks, arranging future-vision seminars, preparing diagnosis of assets and needs, developing the participative plan and defining goals, formulating a priority agenda, and agreeing on the Local Solidary Governance Pact. The PGSL will progressively extend to city neighbourhoods; involving the participation of around 12,000 volunteers. From there, the process can be replicated into settlements, without the need for greater governmental involvement. It will thus no longer be a specific government program, and will become an emergent and self-sustaining dynamic of governance, contributing to seeding a new pattern for the relationship between state and society. The idea is to transform Porto Alegre into a “Network-City”, a city that envisages the future as an opportunity for citizens and community to exercise their citizenship, within a climate of participative democracy, as a right and a responsibility for their own development and for the development of the city as a whole.  
Public Authorities should promote a culture of partnerships, connecting public, private, and Third-Sector investment; defining joint priorities and rationalizing the joint efforts of the human, social and material resources involved. Co-responsibility Commitments for achieving the social results should be agreed between all the partners involved in each project. 

To obtain firm results from implementing the PGSL, organised strategies are concentrated into: 

  • Raising awareness and training public-sector workers and managers, collegiate bodies, community leaders, representative bodies from organised civil society, Participative Budget delegates and advisors, second-and third-sector partners, universities and communication media for setting up, and implementing the PGSL; 
  • Setting up a strong and continuing training and skills network for Local Solidary Governance, through universities, research institutions and national, and international consultants; 
  • Connecting the Local Management Committees (of the Municipal Government) with the interdisciplinary teams of the Integrated Social Inclusion Programs, with reference to the strategic actions of Local Solidary Governance in the 16 regions of the OP; 
  • Monitoring, evaluating, and publicizing the Local Solidary Governance Management Process using monitoring and research instruments to be developed and/or adapted to the situations in each region of the city.  

Porto Alegre City Hall signed an International Technical Cooperation Project (914BRA3038) with the United Nations Scientific, Educational and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, to execute the project. Additional funding was provided by the local government.

Results from the project include:

  • Implementation of Local Solidary Governance in the 17 regions of the Participatory Budget (OP), with an effective impact on promoting the social inclusion of the most vulnerable sectors of the population; 
  • Qualification of technical teams, social organisers of the Local Solidary Governances, Participative Budget delegates, and advisors by investing in development of human resources, and improving information systems; 
  • Implementing the Local Solidary Governance Information System which, linked with other assessment tools, enables regular monitoring of indicators of social participation, social capital, human development and sustainable development, bringing greater agility and quality to the management process of governance within the logic of the Program;
  • Strengthening the OP, expanding and quantifying citizen participation with other social and solidary-support networks in pursuit of co-responsibility for Sustainable Local Development. UNESCO and Porto Alegre City Hall are developing a general evaluation, but the annuals evaluation so far have been quite positive, especially regarding the new spirit that has overtaken the city and the use of our social capital as an asset.

The main barrier of this project was encouraging and obtaining civil society participation due to mistrust and confusion. This was overcome by reaching out to local community leaders for help. Community leaders clarified confusion, and assisted in gaining local civilian participation.


The PGSL has the potential to be disseminated and replicated throughout the world, as it deals with universal concepts, such as cooperation, social capital, plurality, dialog, and partnership. The idea of promoting an inter-sectorial and multidisciplinary network which is territorially organised for promoting spaces of coexistence between government and local society can and should be disseminated and replicated, simply adapting the principal points of restructuring according the needs identified by the players in their own regions. The PGSL’s methodological structure is a flexible tool which can be adjusted to the particular requirements of each region, without losing its conceptual value and theoretical foundations.

- Integrated Urban Governance Manual (see the link below)


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Camille Toggenburger
Berlin, Germany

Camille Toggenburger

Individual | Community and Content Manager | urban sustainability exchange

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