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Mapping participatory planning in Havana: patchwork legacies for a strengthened local governance

Enironment & Urbanization 

By  Catalina Ortiz,  Alejandro Vallejo, Jorge Peña Dia, Emily Morris, Joiselen Cazanave Macías, Dayané Proenza González


In 2019, Cuba approved a new political constitution that calls for deepening citizen participation to strengthen local governance. The emerging decentralization processes and the role of new actors in urban development open new possibilities for inclusive planning. While citizen participation is widely documented in the global South and under Western liberal democracy regimes, participatory urban planning in the context of Southern socialist cities such as Havana has been less scrutinized. This paper aims at mapping the framings, trajectories and legacies of such participatory planning initiatives. Based on mapping workshops and desktop research, we find that participatory initiatives within Havana are spatially dispersed, sporadic, lacking at the city level, and occurring in isolation at the neighbourhood level. We argue that establishing sustained participatory urban planning practices in Havana requires decision makers to scale outwards and upwards the lessons learned from existing initiatives to foster a city-wide participatory planning strategy.

Key Words: decentralization, Havana, Latin American cities, participatory planning, scaling, socialist cities

Suggested citations: Catalina Ortiz, C., Vallejo A.,Peña Día, J., Morris E., Cazanave Macías, J., Proenza González, D. (2021). Mapping participatory planning in Havana: patchwork legacies for a strengthened local governance. Environment & Urbanization. Online first (27 July 2021). DOI:

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