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Planning in Central America in the 21st. century: possibilities and limitations for resilience implementation
1  Universidad Centroamericana José Simeón Cañas, El Salvador


This work examines the evolution of the planning field in five Central American countries [1] in the last 15 years in order to discuss different approaches to promote urban resilience and its implications for planning governance at the multinational, national, and metropolitan levels. Study focuses on how these countries have incorporated comprehensive risk management and climate change adaptability as major planning policy goals in the context of a vulnerable region with diverse institutional frameworks. For this, research examines a series of regional, national, and metropolitan planning instruments and corresponding organizations to focus attention on their coherence with sustainability principles and detect the emergence of innovative planning practices.

The study of Central American planning cases permits to identify four tensions which are relevant for the discussion of the linkages between resilience implementation, planning, and governance. First, despite official discourses based on global climate change agreements and carbon neutrality goals, numerous contradictions persist with ongoing strategic economic ventures and large infrastructure projects as coordination between environmental and economic ministries is still incomplete. Second, new issues incorporated into national and metropolitan development plans, such as: gender equality, human rights, and civil society participation pose diverse implementation challenges for traditional planning organizations and professionals. Third, the achievement of social, environmental, and economic development objectives is limited by conservative legal frameworks as legal disputes around private property and plan implementation continue. Finally, numerous stakeholders such as multilateral organizations, local governments, private investors, and grassroots organizations have not been fully involved into planning processes preventing multiple interests to be considered in the decision making process. As a result, effective planning governance and lack of flexible institutional arrangements appear to be the main limitations for effective resilience implementation in Central America.

[1] Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala

Keywords: Urban planning; Central America; resilience; governance
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