Integrated Metropolitan Governance in Rosario

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Main actors

Regional Government

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Project area

Metropolitan Area

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Ongoing since 2010/08

Through the creation of new metropolitan structures, Rosario Metropolitan Area strives for an integrated approach of metropolitan planning processes.

Despite having a long experience with “metropolitan thinking”, Rosario Metropolitan Area (AMR) for many years has been characterized by low territorial integration and lacking actors’ coordination in planning and urbanization processes. The strategy of integration followed by Rosario’s Metropolitan Area is solving metropolitan problems at the most relevant scale.

Following this, two metropolitan institutions have been created in 2010 and 2011: the Metropolitan Coordination Entity and the Metropolitan Unit for strategic planning and management. These two entities should help better coordinating territorial governance and urban planning at the metropolitan level. The aim is to offer an instrument to better guide the development of Rosario’s metropolitan region through the involvement of all metropolitan stakeholders.

The area of Puerto Norte in Rosario has been pointed out as one of the most representative experience, not only due to the planning mechanisms, but also due to the financing instruments employed, having the participation of public and private players.


This Case Study is part of the Comparative Study on Metropolitan Governance (São Paulo Metropolis Initiative).

Urban Solid Waste Management in the Metropolitan Region of Belo Horizonte is also part of the Comparative Study on Metropolitan Governance.


Sustainable Development Goals

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
Rosario, Argentina

Size and population development
2011: 1,283,000; 1990: 1,084,000; 2025: 1,567,000; 2010-2015: 1,53% / year

Main functions
industrial centre and transportation hub, port complex

Main industries / business
agro industry, oil processing, chemicals, machine industry

Political structure
Mayor elected for a period of four years and a deliberative Council elected every two years

Administrative structure
six districts: Center, North, Northwest, West, Southwest and South

Rosario’s Metropolitan Area (AMR) expresses a dynamic and heterogeneous set of cities located south of Santa Fe province, united by the geographical proximity and by the presence of common problems. With its center in the city of Rosario, the AMR concentrates more than 1,400,000 inhabitants who live in 1768 km2 of land, with a population density of 740 inhabitants per km2. It is a territory with a complex social and economic reality, which presents significant levels of functional binding and dependence.

Rosario’s planning has always had a “metropolitan view”. The construction of the metropolitan thinking was started in 1968 with Rosario’s Regulating Plan, which required the municipal government to manage agreements among the communes to discuss the effects of the application of measures provided in the plan.

Rosario city has developed a successful experience from the preparation of its Rosario Strategic Plan, in 1998 (PER - Plan Estratégico Rosario) and then 10 years later, with the Metropolitan Rosario Strategic Plan (PER+10) - instruments that were applied simultaneously to the development of an urban planning.

As a product from that 15-year path of the Strategic Planning, it was possible to start a phase of extended planning, adopting the perspective of a metropolitan territory, which demands not only a change of view, but a more complex participation from the players involved. In this new landmark, conceiving the “metropolitan” concept implicates in operating a territory which is passive to constant changes, through a more complex approach and an integrating thinking, which allows to face and solve the common problems in a scale which corresponds to their relevance level.

To approach the problems of Rosario’s Metropolitan Area, general and sectorial diagnoses have already been prepared, which resulted in the following analyses:


-Expansion process of cities - scattering of the urbanization processes;

- Lack of connectivity among the metropolitan corridors;

-Lack of an integrated transportation system.


-Availability of a territorial infrastructure;

-Existence of several locations of historical proprietary interest;

-Existence of strategic locations for public spaces and metropolitan equipment.

In August 2010, from the initiative of the local governments that integrate Rosario’s Metropolitan Area, the Metropolitan Coordination Entity (ECOM - Ente de Coordinación Metropolitana) was created. The cities and communes in the region, from then on, have an instrument which serves as a space for coordination and promotion of public policies of regional impact, and also as an agency for conducting the development of projects in a metropolitan level, and those are organized based on a strategic association of the local governments. At present, 21 local governments integrates the ECOM: Acebal, Andino, Arroyo Seco, Alvarez, Alvear, Capitán Bermúdez, Coronel Domínguez, Fighiera, Funes, General Lagos , Granadero Baigorria, Ibarlucea, Pérez, Piñero, Pueblo Esther, Ricardone, Rosario, San Lorenzo, Soldini, Villa Gobernador Gálvez, Zavalla.

With the creation, in December 2011, of the Metropolitan Unit for Strategic Planning and Management, an agency from Rosario’s Municipal Government, came the opportunity to conduct a joint effort between the communes’ technicians and AMR’s cities, as well as the regional and national offices. The Agency, along with those players, is intended to develop the whole evaluation of the territory, to establish common policies and to agree on metropolitan management guidelines. The protagonism from Rosário city is reinforced in the articulation and planning of the metropolitan policy.

The Metropolitan Unit for Strategic Planning and Management exists to follow up and guide the development of Rosario’s metropolitan region through the participation of public, institutional, private players and also technical representatives from the cities and communes in AMR. The Metropolitan Unit establishes, as strategic objectives:

- To develop and share technical information which enable to approach the region problems from a metropolitan view (database, indicators);

- To drive the creation of multilateral agreements with intense participation from public and private players, with aims to obtain synergy among the relevant players and institutions;

- To propose and organize a common stance in terms of specific rules and regulations, agreed among the several cities in the region;

- To offer help to different areas in the cities and communes, which are members of the Metropolitan Coordination Entity (ECOM), in developing and managing projects;

- To manage the resources to conclude the projects prepared;

- To study the problems identified by ECOM from a strategic perspective.


Besides the strategic planning process developed by Rosario in a local scale, the Urban Planning process (Plan Urbano Rosario – PUR) was also strengthened. In the portfolio of projects with this character, the revitalization of North Port (Puerto Norte) standed out as a transformative project for the city of Rosario. The modeling of Puerto Norte is summed up, in a general way, to a public planning project with investments, execution and maintenance up to the private sector.

The legal mechanism used to regulate the public-private relations, and as a management institutional arrangement among the parties involved was the urban agreement - figures in Rosario’s Urban Plan (PUR). At the responsibility assignment matrix, the municipal government initially assumes the central role of planning agent for the actions which structure the physical and functional transformations of a specific area of the city, through a Special Plan. After that, the Detail Plan is executed, and it provides the accurate detailing of the previous plan, followed up by a negotiation promoted by Rosario’s Municipal Government among the remaining public and private players involved in preparing and implementing the detail plan. Finally, after the study process which recognizes the financial feasibility of private projects capable of supporting the city development, the urban agreement is signed and it consists of a regulation instrument of the commitments made by the municipal government, the landowners and the private entrepreneurs, allowing the private interventions to start.

Back to the metropolitan scale, recently, in May 2014, the territorial management guidelines (DOT, Directrices de Ordenamiento Territorial) were presented, and they were translated in general recommendations to be agreed by the different players, with the aim of guiding the complete transformation of the Rosario’s Municipal Area and establishing the bases for the development of the Local Urban Plans. This is the basis for the metropolitan agreement. The territorial management guidelines were produced and submitted jointly by the 21 locations integrating ECOM. They are:

  1. Definition of urbanization and use of land standards;
  2. Protection and optimization of environmental resources and proprietary funds;
  3. Structuring of the accessibility and connectivity, in an efficient way;
  4. Promotion of a full development of production and services;
  5. Improvement of the environmental sanitation and infrastructure conditions;
  6. Strategic and associative coordination of players;
  7. Balanced distribution of equipment and services, from several centers.

The composition of Rosario’s Metropolitan Region is characterized by the integration concept via functional interdependence. The model is the one of voluntary association of municipalities, and it has been created through a voluntary agreement among municipalities and communes, overseen by the local legislative agencies.

That way, the configuration of the metropolitan territory come as a social construction process that has as main elements the organization strategy of its players and the type of institutions that shape it. The development strategy is supported mainly through public-private negotiations.

In this line, Rosario has successfully used the urban agreement for the execution of several projects, among which Puerto Norte stands out. In this case the agreements signed ensured the creation of a large number of public constructions. In order to completely revitalize the whole coastal front of the city, the municipal government also implemented the concession mechanism to promote public construction financed by the private sector.

A negotiation process is started between Rosario and the cities in its metropolitan area, with the purpose of identifying and confirming joint alignments of actions and special projects for the region. To this end, the experience in strategic and urban planning developed by Rosario - in its local scale - returns to the agenda, now being redefined in an extended territorial and institutional context with the interaction of a different and more complex set of players.

Rosario presents a low level of urbanization. In spite of that, the agreement model between the government and the private sector is shown to be possibly reproduced in other metropolises.


  • Rosario’s experience shows the unusual fact of a municipality that takes the initiative to form a metropolitan region and negotiates its strategic planning policies;

  • The metropolitan region does not receive funds from the federal government, and the funds from the province, the municipalities and communes are scarce.

  • Puerto Norte shows the opportunity of quality urban developing with public areas, financed by private capital;

  • In order to involve the private sector in the projects, the practice of planning over medium and long term during a long time was essential;

  • The approximation and the agreement process between the municipality and the private sector was an important mechanism to guarantee the entrepreneurs projects financial feasibility and the installation of public spaces;

  • There was always transparency in the regulation of the instruments that impact the land market;

  • The creation of a fund was fundamental so that the government may exert its right of first refusal;

  • The establishment of guidelines of territorial management at the metropolitan level presents itself as a concrete action affecting the planning, acting as a cornerstone for the implementation of integrated public policies in Rosario’s Municipal Area;

  • Because they arise from a voluntary assemble of cities which share common desires, and with the presence of diverse social players, the “bottom-up” arrangements may demonstrate efficiency, but, in some cases, the development of that form of cooperation ends up demanding a sort of institutionalization, with aims to its long-term maintenance and the need for dialog among the other governmental instances.

- Comparative Study on Metropolitan Governance, Metropolis, Report 2014, p.43-52.

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Camille Toggenburger
Berlin, Germany

Camille Toggenburger

Individual | Community and Content Manager | urban sustainability exchange

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