The Resilience Strategy of Montevideo

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Main actors

Local Government, City Government, other

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Project area

Metropolitan Area

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Ongoing since 2016/05

The Resilience Strategy of Montevideo is a strategic guide that seeks to prepare the city and its inhabitants, to face the diverse challenges that urbanization, climate change and globalization represent. 

In May 2016, Montevideo was selected to become part of the 100 Resilient Cities Network (100RC) promoted by the Rockefeller Foundation.

In 2017, the Resilience Executive Unit was created within the Intendencia of Montevideo (the agency in charge of the executive branch of the government of Montevideo). The Unit was responsible for leading this process and developing an evaluation of the current situation, through workshops, expert panels, interviews, perception surveys and with the existing data available. In September 2018, the Resilience Strategy was delivered.

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
Montevideo, Uruguay

Size and population development
2011: 1,672,000; 1990: 1,546,000; 2025: 1,899,000; 2010-2015: +0.84%/year

Population composition
mostly Christians, many inhabitants are descendants of former immigrants from Europe

Main functions
Capital City; economic, political and cultural centre; major port in South America

Main industries / business
trade, finance, tourism

Political structure
governance is shared by the city government and the Parliament of Montevideo; decentralised political structure to enhance democratic partizipation

Administrative structure
18 areas, governed by Zonal Community Centers subordinate to the Municipality of Montevideo; 8 political municipalities and 62 barrios

Montevideo covers an area of 530 square kilometers, it is the capital city and smallest department in Uruguay. The city is home to almost half of the population and where more than 50% of the national GDP is generated. These characteristics, together with its status of being the country’s main port and one of the most important on the south Atlantic coast, render it as geopolitically and economically strategic. For that reason, the Resilience Strategy is relevant, not only at the local level, but also in the national and regional context.

During the development of the strategy, identification and assessment of the most relevant shocks and chronic stresses for the city was made. This review was based on the statistical analysis of the data available (in pre-existing studies) and in a study of perceptions specifically conducted to complete the evaluation. These results were systematized under the resilience approach and were outlined in collective debates that allowed for the establishing of links, similarities and cause-effect relationships.

 Main identified challenges are:

  1. Expansion of the urban area and territorial development model
  2. Social, economic and territorial inequality
  3. Mobility and transportation
  4. Environmental sustainability and waste management
  5. Climate change, coastal territories and risk management
  6. Transformation of the production matrix

Montevideo’s resilience strategy is organised into 4 pillars, 14 objectives, 45 initiatives and 3 strategic processes that we have called resilience laboratories. Together, these pillars, objectives, initiatives and laboratories contribute to developing  the vision for the strategy.

Pillar A | Connected and dynamic Montevideo


Montevideo is a dynamic city that is connected to the world, the region and its metropolitan environment. It is one which makes efficient use of its territory and of its installed capacities, supported by an urban mobility system that guarantees adequate connectivity, combining different transportation means and prioritizing sustainability, promoting socio-territorial integration processes and equitable use of the territory for all of the people of Montevideo.


A1. Control urban expansion, promoting the maximum use of consolidated areas and the revitalization of precarious central areas.

A2. Promote the public use of space for collective and operational transportation over the individual motorized vehicle.

A3. Promote the energy matrix transformation in urban mobility.

Pillar B | Inclusive and supportive Montevideo


Montevideo bases its local development on an inclusive, equitable and solidary model, centered on the human being, in which people can develop their maximum potential according to their needs and interests. It has modern participation and decision mechanisms, that are effective and innovative, designed to allow the integration of all people, respecting their diversity.


B.1 Reverse socio-territorial segregation and guarantee access to the right to the city.

B.2 Deepen the cultural dimension of development as a driving force for integration, equity and recognition of the diversity of all inhabitants.

B.3 Strengthen public spaces as areas for social integration, citizen safety and coexistence.

B.4 Promote participation and decision mechanisms, in a transparent, effective and innovative manner.

Pillar C | Innovative and co-creative Montevideo


Montevideo is a thriving, multifaceted and enjoyable place, combining its role as a tourist capital with industries that are strongly centered on the creative capacity of its inhabitants, the access to knowledge, the commitment to innovation and the promotion of culture.


C.1 Promote a development model that favors the circular, social and solidarity economy.

C.2 Promote individual and collective creativity as a driving force for innovation and development in sectors of the economy that are based on knowledge, culture and new technologies.

C.3 Position Montevideo as an attractive and open city, whose cultural, social and natural heritage is valued.

Pillar D | Committed and prepared Montevideo


Montevideo is a sustainable territory, which protects its coast, its water courses, its rural environment and its natural ecosystems, and manages its solid wastes in an integral way under an economic, social and environmental vision. It has empowered citizens to undertake the commitment to build an increasingly resilient territory.


D.1 Install an environmental management that incorporates the ecosystem and basin approach.

D.2 Reduce the impact of solid waste on the environment by incorporating new management models and the best available technologies.

D.3 Value the rural territory, promoting the responsible use of its environmental services and recognising the urban-rural complementarity.

D.4 Strengthen citizen’s commitment to caring for the environment and to improve their skills in understanding, preventing and responding to risk situations, from a resilient perspective.

Laboratories are neither plans nor projects nor actions. These are resilience building processes that due to their transversality and strategic value characteristics, allow for an integral approach to the 4 pillars and contribute towards achieving Montevideo’s Resilient vision in a decisive manner.

Resilience LAB 1: Transformation of the Pantanoso stream basin

The Pantanoso stream basin is one of the territories considered strategic by the Land-Use Planning Department Guidelines. It was defined as a laboratory because it presents a multidimensional problem that articulates all of the strategy’s pillars in a territory considered strategic for developing a resilient Montevideo.

Resilience LAB 2: Integral development of the coastal territory

The coastal area by the Río de la Plata is a territory which forms part of the people of Montevideo’s identity and is exposed to numerous anthropogenic and natural pressures. It was selected as a laboratory due to the need to generate a global development project linked to the rest of the department, without neglecting its sectoral and territorial specificities.

Resilience LAB 3: Comprehensive risk management

Risk management in Montevideo has traditionally been considered under a sectoral approach focused on emergency care. Due to its relevance in building resilience, it requires the incorporation of a contemporary and multidimensional approach. It was defined as a laboratory so as to ensure that the new risk management policy meets the objectives of the 4 pillars of the strategy.

During the development phase of the strategy, the Resilience Executive Unit was provided with financial and technical assistance by the 100 RC initiative (100 resilient cities), along with access to the services of global organizations, opportunities to exchange experiences and best practices among member cities, and access to tools for building resilience.

Currently, the Executive Resilience Unit of the government of Montevideo, together with other local government departments, is managing the implementation and securing additional funding for the Resilience Strategy.

Implementing a monitoring and evaluation processes is vital, not only for the accountability of the work done, but as a form of learning. As part of the strategy’s methodology, a key activity will be establishing a system of indicators aimed at measuring the resilience value of each initiative in an integral manner.

The system of indicators should be linked with other related indicators carried out by the government of Montevideo and other public agencies  and private institutions to optimize resources and take advantage of the synergies.

Based on the above, it was decided that the outcome and impact indicators should be subject to careful development during the strategy’s implementation phase. However, some measurement metrics are included for each of the objectives, which enable early tracking of progress and results.

The strategy’s development process offered a unique opportunity to recognize Montevideo’s progress in building resilience and to demonstrate the possibilities of enhancing its results under a holistic approach. It also facilitated the installation of new spaces for collective reflection, where existing paradigms were reviewed, and new ideas were generated to build management models that can help convert the challenges derived from global change into opportunities. Moving forward in this way, involved confronting sectoral resistances at different levels of government, seeking to transform a work culture with a sectorial approach, towards a matrix and transversal approach.

The introduction of the resilience approach in the design of the actions, initiatives and policies of the different levels of government has been a great challenge. We understand that this is a long-term process that involves transforming the design basis of public policies. Therefore, a lesson learned is that as the work involves the coordination of many actors,  always keep in mind the diversity of interests and possible conflicts between them; achieving common goals over particular interests; and  marking collective lines of work, contributes to the achievement of the goals set.

Planning actions based on a logic of successive approaches can help to strengthen the long-term commitment of all stakeholders, even taking into account the complications and potential conflicts in day-to-day work.

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Camille Toggenburger
Berlin, Germany

Camille Toggenburger

Individual | Community and Content Manager | urban sustainability exchange

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