logo Distinción Buena Práctica en Participación Ciudadana

Social participation for the construction of the Sustainable Development and Climate Action Plan of the City of Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Promoting entity

Municipality of Rio de Janeiro/ Municipal Secretariat of Finance and Planning/ Sub-Secretariat for Planning and Monitoring of Results/ Planning Office


2018 - 2020

Type of experience:

  • Urban planning
  • Workshop/meeting for diagnosis, monitoring, etc.
  • Audience/forum
  • Citizen initiative
  • Other (specify): Digital Platform

Objective of the experience

  • To achieve higher levels of equality in terms of participation and to incorporate diversity as a criterion for inclusion
  • Community empowerment
  • To empower non-organised citizens
  • To increase citizen’s rights in terms of political participation
  • To connect different tools of participation within a participatory democracy “ecosystem”
  • To improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the mechanisms of participatory democracy
  • To improve the quality of public decision-making through the mechanisms of participatory democracy
  • To improve the evaluation and accountability of the mechanisms of participatory democracy

Territorial scope

All the territory

Thematic area

  • Governance
  • Education
  • Transport
  • Urban management
  • Health
  • Security
  • Environment and/or urban agriculture
  • New social movements and associationism
  • Culture
  • Housing
  • Decentralization
  • Training/learning
  • Social inclusion

Main goal of the innovative experience:

The process aimed to promote high engagement and appropriation of the population in the elaboration process of the Sustainable Development and Climate Action Plan, including the longings of society, pointing out solutions. Strategies were created to reach various profiles and regions.

At the same time, the creation of the digital platform for broad participation and the understanding of the schools as nuclei highlighted the importance of strengthening the culture of participation as an educational practice for the entire city, starting the process that must be continuous and multifaceted in the citizen-public power relationship, to provide opportunities for involvement, appropriation and leadership of the Carioca population in the city's planning.

How have you achieved this objective?

For the elaboration of the Plan, the Planning Office was based on three concepts of participation: legitimacy, representativeness and autonomy with online and in-person actions. Understanding the challenge of reaching the largest number and different profiles of citizens in such a large and multifaceted city, different strategies were created. Among them:

  • Training and engagement workshops for technicians from the city government and external partners;
  • Creation of a digital platform to host information, surveys and specific content, including for children and youth;
  • Face-to-face meetings at schools in several areas of the city, in partnership with the Secretariat of Education, for representatives of the School Community Councils, with the presence of technicians from the Planning Office and representatives of institutional partnerships C40 and UN-Habitat; in these meetings, the methodology, designed specifically for the dynamics, allowed for very positive results;
  • Activities involving schools and students from the municipal network to gather information about the challenges and expectations for the city through the eyes of children of different age groups in partnership with the Planning Office, SME, and UFRJ.

The results of the activities were displayed in the platform through graphics, videos, magazine, and presentations. The suggestions of the population were systematized for analysis and incorporation into the Plan.

To what extent has this objective been achieved?

The different formats allowed for greater approximation and listening to citizens and children from the many different regions of the city, and thus better knowledge of priorities and proposals, understanding the potential of the participants as agents of effective transformation.

Through a methodology that sought more than raise problems and point solutions, we tried to make the cariocas see that their small actions are important and that without their involvement the city hall is not able to achieve ambitious goals. Throughout the process, we reached more than 35,000 direct contributions and raised more than 800 actions already carried out in the territories.

The process was also educational, to the extent that it contributed to awakening in citizens individual responsibility in the improvement of the city. The methodology allowed us to raise actions that could be done individually and together, strengthening the power and reach of local non-governmental partnerships, and the process of collective construction of the city.

From these processes, it was possible to incorporate new actions, projects and goals into the Plan to meet the specific wishes of the population.

More than 65% of the goals and actions adopted in the Plan are derived from the opinions and wishes of the participants, making clear the Municipality's commitment to have a plan with effective citizen collaboration.

Which is the most innovative aspect of the experience?

The practice innovates by bringing a set of differentiated activities to reach diverse audiences and broaden participation. The dynamic and continuous process allows opinions and suggestions to be absorbed throughout the construction of the Plan, understanding the citizen as an agent of transformation.

Innovative aspects of the activities:

  • Creation of a digital participatory platform that intends to encourage and unify public polls in the city's planning processes. Several municipal agencies have already used the platform for different surveys.
  • Creation of a session on the platform with accessible information about Sustainable Development to broaden knowledge. With the partnership of MultiRio, a municipal multimedia company, the platform also inaugurates a session aimed at the children and youth public, including the production of specific and innovative content such as educational games and accessible language videos. The Character was also created, whose name was chosen through a contest among public school students. Susteco is the mascot, a friend of the children, in search of the sustainable development of the City.
  • Face-to-face meetings in schools in different regions of the city, with representatives of the CECs, using specific methodology that positioned the citizen as an agent of transformation extracting proposals and constructive contributions, for the categories "Me", "All together", "Local organizations" and "City Hall".
  • Affective mapping of the city's territories - Listening activity of children through drawings and texts, which were systematized to understand the look, their sufferings, and needs due to their experience in the city. The results were exciting and provided an understanding of the city from a totally new perspective, providing inputs for different public policies.

To what extent is the procedure transferable?

All the methodologies and tools created for the different participation activities (online polls, face-to-face meetings, school involvement), are easily replicable in any city, with the understanding that the systematization and use of the results should be adapted to the planning instruments and local realities.

The modeling of the platform is quite simple and can be replicated in different digital environments; the surveys used survey forms. Likewise, the methodology used in the face-to-face meetings is very objective and fully replicable, as is the methodology for listening to the children. The processes were designed to be objective and used few financial resources.

Why do you consider that the experience is feasible?

The city of Rio de Janeiro has territories with diverse characteristics both culturally and economically, and the city has been going through a serious economic crisis. To make the project viable, it was necessary to involve external partners and use the potential of the public administration.

Thus, we identified and invited partners that had aggregate objectives to ours, avoiding costs to the city government and ensuring success in the projects.

The municipal education network was involved because it has a large territorial capillarity with more than 1500 schools, diverse audiences and involving parents, students and the engaged population of its surroundings.

The partnership with Multirio - the city government's multimedia company with enormous potential and high quality standards - was fundamental in the construction of audio visual content with academic children's language and in the production of games.

Considering the budget context, we identified low-cost possibilities through the use of digital tools already employed by the city hall. The entire online platform, content and research were built with internal technicians.

We also highlight the partnerships with external institutions such as the UN, C40, and UFRJ ( Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro). This strong articulation made the activities feasible at a low cost for the city hall, and with great quality and commitment.

How has the experience been coordinated with other actors and processes?

All the actions were coordinated by the Planning Office, which was responsible for the articulation with various partners, internal and external institutions. Each activity relied on different and specific partners, from planning, implementation, to the systematization of results. These partnerships were fundamental for the success and quality of the process.

In 2019, through a partnership with UN-Habitat, training workshops were held, involving 1300 people, among municipal technicians and partner institutions. One of these workshops, for example, made for municipal professionals, held with Multirio's support, promoted strong synergy of objectives and enhanced the partnership with education.

Also in 2019, face-to-face meetings were held in schools. These events were supported by UN-Habitat (New Urban Agenda - SDGs) and the C40 network (Climate Agenda) in the preparation of contents, reports, and propositional dynamics. The Education Secretariat supported it with its spaces and invitations. These meetings generated more than 1600 collaborations.

Still in November, together with UFRJ and the Education Network, through drawings and texts, we involved more than 25 thousand children. The works were analyzed by the UFRJ team.

The results of all the actions were grouped, and produced a total of more than 35 thousand collaborations analyzed by the Planning Office team.

What has the level of co-responsibility been?

Most of the partners involved had their own objectives complementary to the project's (UN-Habitat: SDG goals, C40: Climate Agenda), so the involvement and commitment went from the methodology, application to the analysis of the results.

The actions were designed to explain to the population that involvement and commitment are fundamental for changes to occur. Through a propositional methodology, developed by the city team together with the UN and C40 network, the population was led to propose actions that each one, individually, can do to collaborate with the goals, as well as actions for organizations and what all these actors ("city hall", "local organizations" and "me") together can do.

In partnership with the UN, we prepared a series of feedback contents for these meetings to replace the face-to-face meetings agreed with the population involved, which were canceled due to the pandemic. This material was made available on the platform.

The partnership with UFRJ came about through a research project from the School of Architecture, which designed and systematized, along with the Planning Office, the results of the children's experiences.

The Secretariat of Education and MultiRio were the most active internal partners, getting involved in most of the actions with their spaces, professionals and students.

What mechanisms for evaluation and accountability were used?

All the participation processes had the premise of disseminating their results. Due to the pandemic and thinking about everyone's well-being, a proposal for online feedback was created through the platform, replacing the face-to-face meetings that had been planned.

The online surveys had their results made available through interactive graphics as the polls were being concluded, therefore already throughout the process.

For each face-to-face meeting, a video was made available with the objective of summarizing the process of the meetings with some highlights for each region, a document in the format of an online magazine, presenting the systematization and consolidation of the contributions received, and 9 short sequential videos with a brief presentation of the Sustainable Development Plan, its divisions, the participative process, and the results that had already been incorporated.

The compiled results, after analysis by the coordination team, were presented through a Social Participation seal, every time the seal appears throughout the Plan, it indicates that that goal or action was cited as a priority for the population or included in the plan based on the participation processes. There is also a chapter in the Plan dedicated to explaining each of the actions and the process for analyzing the results and their inclusion.

Some actions had their results presented in seminars and forums.

It is also planned to monitor the implementation of the Plan after its launch through the online platform

Summary of the experience

The Sustainable Development and Climate Action Plan, coordinated by the Planning Office of the Undersecretariat for Planning and Monitoring Results, was created after listening to cariocas about their hopes, priorities and aspirations for the future of the city. More than 35 thousand people participated directly in the dialogues for the future of the city in the next 30 years. Through polls on the platform, cariocas left their contributions. Face-to-face activities were fundamental for the literal dialogue with the population. The projects included not only improvements for the city's infrastructure, but for the people who live there. In these activities, it was possible to deepen understandings, review definitions pointing to specific needs, engage and involve participants, stimulate citizenship and effectiveness in policies and planning. This decentralisation of the process sought to share responsibilities, share difficulties and together find strategies and new paths for an increasingly better city.

Understanding the challenge of reaching different profiles in such a large and multifaceted city, different strategies were created: training workshops; an online platform with different participation surveys and specific content for children and young people; face-to-face meetings with innovative dynamics; projects with the municipal education network from the children's point of view. All this was only possible thanks to key partnerships, such as UN-Habitat, C40 network, UFRJ, Municipal Secretariat of Education and MultiRio.

Launched in 2018, the platform was an important tool for access and transparency of actions. Cariocas dived into the waves of participation, involving more than 2,500 contributions in the 04 stages open to the public.

The training workshops held with UN-Habitat in 2019 addressing Open Government themes involved more than 1300 municipal technicians and from partner institutions, representing an important driver of the participation process, since the technicians were trained and also contributed with proposals for the Plan. In a specific workshop for the municipal education network, more than a thousand employees participated at the same time, promoting a great synergy of objectives, strengthening the fundamental partnership with education. During this workshop, a competition was launched to name the character created to be "the children's friend", seeking to disseminate information on sustainable development. This contest has boosted many school activities. The involvement of students affected their families, generating more than 5,000 votes on the Platform, electing Susteco as the name of the character.

The SDP reached the schools intertwined with the activities of dissemination of the SDGs. From then on, parents, staff, local representatives and students were together in understanding and valuing the sustainable development of the city.

Also in 2019, face-to-face meetings were held involving institutions, leaders, civil society, children, youth, adults and the elderly, allowing this plan to be democratically built with popular engagement. And as a final moment, there was the direct involvement of children in the proposition of actions for the city, from the D-Day - Affective Mapping, held on November 8.

The digital platform plays an important role in this process, since it is there that all the results achieved are made available and it will be through it that the cariocas will be able to follow the implementation of the Plan.