ELLA Policy Brief: Strategic Planning in Latin America

ELLA is the Evidence and Lessons from Latin America programme


Many Latin American cities have successfully carried out Strategic Planning (SP), bringing tangible results to inhabitants and to efforts to better manage the urban environment. City governments face particular difficulties in planning and managing urban growth, and in achieving long-term solutions to urban environmental problems. SP offers an interesting, participatory strategy for addressing these challenges. SP is different from conventional urban planning because of its cooperative process, drawing in businesses, civil society and different government agencies. It promotes these groups’ continuing cooperation in envisioning the city’s future, diagnosing problems, planning, prioritising, mobilising resources, and implementing and monitoring initiatives. This Brief describes the SP process followed in Latin America, and concludes with lessons learned that will be useful for other cities seeking an effective way to engage in urban planning.

Key Lessons:

•Solving the environmental problems created by uncontrolled urban growth, as well as the associated social fragmentation and poverty, means generating a long-term plan for managing city growth and development.

•Anticipating demands due to urban growth is central to a more effective government response. Municipal planners must consider how future growth will affect, for example, traffic within and beyond their boundaries, and make plans now to be able to prevent future congestion.

•Anticipation of future needs, combined with a participatory approach, is SP’s key contribution to solving urban environmental challenges. Many Latin American cities have used SP with great success, and the lessons coming from this Latin American model could be useful for cities in Africa and Asia facing similar challenges.


II ED–AL. ELLA Policy Brief: Strategic Planning in Latin America. ELLA, Practical Action Consulting, Lima, Peru (2012) 5 pp.

Published 1 January 2012