Management of public squares in São Paulo, Brazil will now be held in a shared manner, involving not only the role of the government, but also the participation of the citizens for the use, implementation, revitalization, reconstruction, financing and conservation of these spaces. The measure, whose objective is to guarantee the quality of the squares and strengthen the dialog between the public authority and civil society, was sanctioned and published in the city’s official gazette on Thursday, July 11th.
Through collaborative management, the City seeks the sustainability of the urban space, appreciation of the environmental, historical and social assets of the squares, and the community’s enjoyment of these spaces, taking into account the surrounding characteristics and the needs of the citizens. A public urban space, landscaped or not, which provides leisure, recreation, and a sense of community, fulfills a social and environmental function.
The newly sanctioned law provides the creation of committees formed of interested residents to contribute voluntarily in the management of the square. The committees are to be constructed of at least four residents and general users of the surrounding community. Among the duties of the committees will be to propose projects, reforms, reconstruction and interventions, as well as searching for new partnerships and voicing opinions on existing laws.
The dialog between the government and the civil society should consider technical knowledge as well as the specific character of each square. The committees should understand why their square’s characteristics, surroundings, uses, and potential uses are what make it unique from others.
To make this new management effective, the community dialog must be accompanied by registration of all the squares in the city, dissemination of information, and the guarantee of transparency. Such registration will consist of an updated and geo-referenced list of squares by district, indicating name, address, area, and other characteristics like equipment and furniture. The Coordination Secretary of Boroughs will prepare the registration form and will make it available online in six months.
Environmental Education and Guidance
It will also be up to the Secretary to create a guide for the implementation, maintenance and reform of the squares, addressing questions such as accessibility, percentage of permeable area, urban furniture and equipment installation, and guidance for organic community gardens. It will inform who has the responsibility of public services and establish parameters for the equipment and services. The design of the document will be done in participation with the civil society. This guidebook, which will be used by the boroughs to inform city residents and in environmental education programs, should be available in press and digital form on their website.
In conjunction with the citizens and in accordance with the provisions of the Municipal Environmental Education Policy, the law shall establish and implement an environmental education program aimed at collaborative management of the squares. Additionally it will adopt an awareness campaign and training strategy for the educational use of the guidebook, involving schools, public facilities and civil society organizations.
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Original article, originally published in Portuguese, here.
Credits: Data and images linked to sources.