Ciudades para un Futuro más Sostenible
Búsqueda | Buenas Prácticas | Documentos | Boletín CF+S | Novedades | Convocatorias | Sobre la Biblioteca | Buzón/Mailbox
Documentos > Foros > Foro Iberoamericano y del Caribe sobre Mejores Prácticas >

First Subregional meeting Mexico-Central-America and the Spanish Caribbean

Latin-american-Caribbean Forum for Best Practices Optimazing population settlements for a more sustainable future.

1. Backgrounds

The Spanish-American-Caribbean Forum for Best Practices: Optimizing population settlements for a more sustainable future was founded on May, 1997 on Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with the aim of promoting, research, exploration, monitoring and propagation of best practices on population settlements and to prepare the international submission of proposals on best practices 1998 sponsored by United Nations Fund for Human Settlements (HABITAT).

Under the forum, the first agreement was the founding of 5 subregional nodes or representations for the Latin-America and the Caribbean regions. CENVI was selected as the subregional node for Mexico-Central America and the Spanish Caribbean.

The forum for best practices through its Mexico-Central America and the Caribbean office, launched the first subregional meeting housed in Mexico City on September 29-30, October 1st, 1997.

2. The first subregional meeting in Mexico

The school of Architecture under the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), played an important role on the celebration of the first meeting of the subregional forum for best practices making available its facilities and equipment located on the San Carlos Academy, Historic Center, Mexico City.

2.1 The meeting's central goals

Basic objectives

Specializad objectives

2.2 Expected results

The long-awaited result is the creation of a Subregional comunication, exchange and Database net on Best Practices, which would act jointly with the Forum with the future possibility of expanding on several institutions' database systems, like The Technical University of Madrid, Spain, and UNCHS.

2.3 The participants

Following the guidelines to select the meeting participants.
During the last few years, CENVI made contacts with the participants; on several occassions they shared their experiences and work plans on diverse common grounds, as RED XIVb,(living and building program) sponsored by The Spanish-American Program for Development on Science and Technology (CYTED), Habitat Internationtal Coalition HIC, Habitat Coalition Mexico, Habitat National Committee, as well as several universities, and social organizations.
The next guideline was under the recomendation of construction programs, like CERCA PROGRAM under HABITAT-LAC.

2.4 The work plan for the meeting

3. Introduction of the participants from institutions and organizations in Central America and the Caribbean

3.1 Participants from Central American & Caribbean organizations

NOTE- Lily Caballero, participant from Honduras, and Rosendo Mesias De Cuba, could not be on the participants list due communication problems, as well as administrative difficulties.

3.2 Participants from International organizations

3.3 Participants from Spanish institutions

3.4. Participants from Mexican organizations and institutions

4. Introduction to the Forum for Best Practices. Subregional Node organization activities Mexico-Central America and the Spanish Caribbean meeting

Stephen Walsh, HABITAT- LAC representative, was in charge of introducing the Forum for the Best Practices, as well as its subregional organization issues. He outlined the forum main goal and objectives as follows.
"To advance the HABITAT II agenda accomplishment by means of the involvement of the society on development policies for more sustainable population settlements.....
....based on the following goals:

As regards to the subregional meetings, the main subjects are the funding which will enable the future existence of the Forum, and the characterization of the main issues in every country involved.

Miguel Angel Carrillo outlined the role played by the Development Ministry of Spain, supporting the Best Practices Program before and after HABITAT II, especially the numerous activities initiated by the Forum.

Alejandro Suarez Pareyon presented the First Subregional Meeting Mexico-Central America and the Caribbean, as well as its agenda and related activities.

5. Presentation of the Database on Best Practices

Stephen Walsh, introduced the Best Practices Database developed by HABITAT which the user can access by CD or Internet.

The Database on Best Practices developed by the Architecture Department under the Technical University of Madrid, Spain was presented by Jaime Cervera, in charge of the the database design and operation, available to the user via Internet.

In both presentations, and once concluded an answering questions session, the meeting participants discussed issues like the database access and availabilty, and operational costs. Due to time factors, the discussion was extended, taking time from the other agenda themes.

6. Introduction to the guide for Best Practices

Stephen Walsh introduced the guide for best practices (for more information look at the related section on this report). The introduction was followed by a question session from the participants, which made contributions and suggestions for the better comprehension of the guide.

7. Defining a Best Practice

Previous discussion and definition of the Best Practices, the participants were informed of the criteria advanced by the international community experts, under which a Best Practice is defined as the experience that includes the following three main factors:

  1. Association (or participation)- as it was suggested by a participant in the meeting, this means that the experience has to present at least two of the following entities or participants:
    1. national and or local governments,
    2. postgraduate studies and research institutes,
    3. professional organizations, Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs)
    4. communication media,
    5. private sector,
    6. civic leaders,
    7. international organizations and institutions,
    8. volunteer organizations.

  2. Impressive effect.- Aimed to advance substantial improvements on inhabitants' living conditions.

  3. Sustained effect.-This means that the improvements on living conditions are capable of being translated into the following issues:
    1. legislation, city regulations,
    2. social and sectorial policies,
    3. balance between social, economic, and enviroment strategies,
    4. institutional forums,
    5. decision taking bodies,
    6. effiective, honest and responsible management systems.

The next factors are the three additional concepts advanced by The Dubai Summit.

  1. Leadership.- Related to proposals conducing to innovative activities, promoting changes and advancing of clean, responsible non excluding procedures related to decision taking activities.

  2. Preparing the community.- Related to making the population aware of:
    1. the betterment of their living conditions,
    2. access to public assistance and resources,
    3. active involvement on decision taking processes,
    4. establishment of community organizations,
    5. advance a more conscious community on social and political issues.

  3. Social participation.- Formed by proposals related to social and cultural diversification, promotion of social equity.

During the First Forum on Best Practices, convened on Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the participants advanced the following criteria and proposals with the aim of selecting a suitable practice.
To define and select a suitable practice it has to be taken in account:

On the other hand, during the Mexico meeting, the following proposals were advanced:

8. Presentation of actual cases of Best Practices uses

8.1 Designing a Better Practice. UCISV-VER and CENVI cases

The Housing Tenants, Inhabitans and Renters' Union of the state of Veracruz (UCISV-VER) Pobladores A.C., under the consultant services of CENVI, during the last eight years compromised on the development of a program on participating urban planning in Xalapa City, the capital of the state Veracruz. The work done in that case is a clear example of the joint work of an NGO and a Social Base Organization, this was an extensive project that took in its hands from the macro aspects of urban planning in the case of a middle size city to the micro aspects of the housing issue in a very specific area of the city, known as "barrio".

UCISV-VER was established in Xalapa in 1984 with the aim of promoting ways of dealing in a healthy way with the housing problem, especially for a big sector of society-in the lowest income inhabitants. Since its start, the UCISV-VER has made several proposals, most of them turned into real projects benefitting more than 300 families in several cities in Veracruz state. It has also launched public assistance and health programs, as well as culture, economic, and recreational projects with the only aim of finding new ways of sustainable development balancing enviromental, social, urban, and economic issues.

The organization aim could be resumed in the following phrase: to make "popular, urban, productive, ecological settlements".

On the other hand, CENVI is a NGO founded in Mexico City in 1979, specialized in popular settlements issues, as well as urban development, it is also compromised to the planning, promoting and designing alternative ways to solve human settlement problems.

In 1990, both organizations started joint activities launching programs on participative urban planning with the goal of identifying and solving specific problems, as well as proposing solutions for the betterment of human settlings specifically the ones located in the suburbs of the city of Xalapa.

The joint activities of the organizations started since the low income communities would not get enough response from the authorities. The plan made by UCISV-VER and CENVI showed that an organized society is able to propose solutions that can benefit the whole society and city. The plan results were first made avalaible to the public on 1992, from there the communities proposed the plan to the municipal and state authorities. It would be fair to say that now, 1997, the results had not been an entire success, still the major goal was attained, the authorities granted access to the land reservoir of the city to build their housing project.

At the present UCISV-VER and CENVI are working on a similar housing program for the city of Xalapa.

8.2 Costa Rica's experience on Best Practices

An introduction: changes in Costa Rica's social policies

Manuel Arguello has started this in his speech summarizing Costa Rica's social, geographic, economic and political issues. Later he explained the way social policies have been improved to tackle housing problems. He particularly explained the case of the National Financial System for Housing, since 1980 to 1996. This made a clearer understanding of the cases exposed later on about FUNBAMBU and FUPROVI.

FUNBAMBU esperience on Best Practices

Bamboo Organization FUNBAMBU was one of the one hundred Best Practices choosen by HABITAT II. This is a project jointly launched by Costa Rica's Government, International Cooperation Ministery of Netherlands, and United Nations Program for the Development.

This case was presented in a video which dealt in detail with all the planning, research, planting and production of the bamboo plant, as well as its industrialization and manufacturing processes and uses in house building, furniture, appliances, etc.

FUPROVI experience on Best Practices

Organization for the Promotion of Housing or FUPROVI is a Costa Rican NGO oriented to the promotion and supporing of housing through community-organizations joint activities.
It's program called "Urban Popular Housing Program" was also selected as one of one hundred Best Practices by HABITAT II.The main issue in this case was to find a suitable methodology to define a best practice, which guidelines were discussed by all the participants and are the following:

8.3 CERCA, Resource centre for the sustainable development of human settlements in Central America

Eric Vittrup, Regional Coordinator of the Program, explained the backgrounds of CERCA talking about the HABITAT I Forum celebrated in Vancouver, B.C, on 1976, as part of the initiatives launched by UNO to develop human settlements.

CERCA's main goal is to develop and propose participative strategies to fight proverty and make human settlements more sustainable in all the countries comprised in Central America.

CERCA acts as a mediator between the following groups:

  1. CCVAH Central American Council for Human Settlements and Housing (ministeries of Housing and urban development of Central America).

  2. FEMICA Federation of Municipalities of Central America .

  3. FECOC Federation of Communal Organizations of Central America.

CERCA is devoted to activities like technical assistance, training, research, promotion and exchange of experiencies with the aim of make a more participating citizenship and attain a more sustainable local development. To fullfill these goals CERCA has been impulsing the following sectors:

9. Shaaring experiences by the meeting's participants

Institute of social and finantial development for Central America IDESAC.
Hermes Marroquin.

Thirty years ago a group of volunteers and professionals which had a common interest on Guatemala's social problems, realize the importance of expressing the needs of the public society in an organized and sound way, the next step was the establishment of several non governmental organizations, as IDESAC.

As a result of the national compromises comprised on the peace accords, the Guatemalan government made a commitment to grant, as of 1997, 1.5 per cent of the national budget to the development of housing, particularly popular housing, this under the supervision of several institutions and organizations. Now the succes of the accords it depends on a sound collaboration and involvement between public institutions, universities, and non governmental organizations.

IDESAC has a true interest on taking part of such process, in accordance it organized meeting and simposiums jointly with other institutions with the aim of advancing a housing program in accordance with the needs of the under-developed sectors of the population.

Multidisciplinary advisory activities on local government levels.
Antonio Perez Campos

On a personal basis, that is leaving aside institutional representation, Antonio Perez Campos presented an interdisciplinary advisory experience, a case of joint work from a state university and the community of Nuevo Urecho district, state of Michoacan, located on what it is called "the arid region" of Mexico.

This community inhabitants live under extremely poor conditions, lacking of most everything, especially water for human consumption, and farm production. There has been many efforts on improving the community's situation.

Local autorithies in Nuevo Urecho, asked advise from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, UNAM, experts on diagnosis and proposals for aliviating the poverty reigning in the area.

The multidisciplinary group's innovative proposals included the submission of an extensive Agenda 21 for the district with the main goal of restoring the natural balance between the inhabitants and the environment, and at the same time promote economic and social development.

Land Legalization Program.
Edgard Herrera.

Edgard Herrera presented the experience of HABITAR, a Nicaraguan non governmental organization in charge of the Land Legalization Program applied on the west section of Managua. The program was awarded the honor of being one of the One Hundred Best Practices 1996.

Putting into effect the 1990 Regulation, The Land Legalization Program embarked on the land reform of 360 community settlements all over the country, 300 of them located in Managua, with an average population of 300 each.

HABITAR took development of the west section of Managua, considered the most populated area recorded in the city. HABITAR advanced The Land Legalization Program within the framework of "Women, Human Settlings and Environment Program", an extensive development project for the betterment of the living conditions of the community. The project includes legalization of the ownership of the land, urban planning, community health and social assistance, improvement of basic human infrastructure.

Under The Land Legalization Program the Community Action Movement played a basic role, taking part on the negotiation process.

HABITAR provides consultory expertise to the communities grouped under the Community Action Movement, offering advise on design and communtary planning, legal asisstance, and support. HABITAR also acts as a bridge between the community and the goverment offices in charge of the land legalization.

Research Centre of the architecture department CEDIFA under The University of Panama.
Genaro Flores.

CEDIFA was founded fifteen years ago under the Architecture Department of the University of Panama. Since its begginings it embarked on the creation of a database and promoting research on the fields of urban and regional planning, housing, transport, environment, sound technologies, etc. It also provides consulting services to the University, government agencies and private sector.

CEDIFA is engaged in research projects jointly with several international institutions, like The International Center for Research Development of Canada, and Red XIVb "Living and Building" under CYTED.

CEDIFA is in charge of developing specialized research on the housing issue in urban, poor and underdeveloped communities and the center's students work on thesis over related subjects, like sustainable urban development, underdeveloped human settlings, rural development, and effective technologies, on this last one there has been several innovative proposals for the use of alternative construction materials and technologies.

In the other hand, CEDIFA also holds seminars, meetings, conferences and discussions both on national and international levels, on the related fields. Also, the center took part on the Preparatory National Committee for HABITAT II.

Architecture Department under The Autonomous University of Sinaloa. Mexico.
Gladys Mascareno.

The involvement of the Architecture Department of the Autonomous University of Sinaloa on the research of urban and settlement related issues started on a teaching coincidence. The interest formed part of the alumnni projects on "real preocupying population issues" one of the most important problems in the region.

Sinaloa is a high contrast state located in the north east part of the country, as it shows extreme richnness it also suffers from extreme poverty.

Due to circumstancial reasons the Architecture Department working jointly with the National Institute of Antropology and History INAH, "the government body in charge of the nation's cultural heritage, inititated studies on registration and conservation of the Historic Centers of the Colonial cities of the northern and north east regions of Mexico. This juncture allowed the scholars the opportunity of throughly study the modernization effects on thearchitectonic and urban transformations of the cities.

Based on those experiences the university was able to sign consulting agreements with local governments for the advancing of urban development plans and programs. At the present time the university signed an agreement with the Culiacan, the state capital authorities, on a Development Plan for Popular Human Settlements in the east part of the city.

The postgraduate studies department of the Architecture Department of the University established an exchange program with CENVI and the Architecture Department under UNAM.

Social Service Department Coordinator of the 5 de Mayo Architecture Department under Benito Juarez Autonomous University of Oaxaca.
Juan Manuel Diaz

Juan Manuel Diaz is the coordinator of the Social Service Department of The Architecture Department under the Autonomous University of Oaxaca. Social service is an requisite asked to the students in order to get their degree and consists on activities related to the betterment of the community in different aspects.

Oaxaca state is one of the three most poor states of Mexico, it is crossed by a huge mountain chain which makes more difficult the use of farm land, it is also a state vast on ethnic groups and due to geoghraphic characteristics there is more than two thousand five hundred communities, as well as 500 municipalities of difficult access.

Juan Manuel Diaz presented the case of a research project and technical support to San Miguel del Progreso community, Tlaxiaco Municipality, located in the highest part of the mountain chain known as Sierra Alta de la Mixteca. It is not necessary to mention that this is one of the poorest communities.

He proposed a betterment housing program using an innovative construction system based on polyesterene foam sacks filled with dirt called "Adobolsa". This was not the first use of such a system, but still it showed good results.

Architecture School under University of Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico.
Edwin Quiles.

Edwin Quiles experience was based on the creation and use of participative design methods with the aim of the community involvement in the design of their houses and common architectural spaces.

The questions he formulated were related to the following issues:

Citing some examples Edwin Quiles showed simple ways to create a specific language that enables the community to express their spaces for living needs.

Social Research Team under Technical Institute of Santo Domingo.
Dominican Republic.
Cesar Perez.

Cesar Perez talked about the latest political and economic developments in Dominican Republic, particularly in Santo Domingo, its capital.

Since a communal or housing movement does not exist in Dominican Republic, and also because of the lack of a municipal and sector policy, the only example of conducting a best practice is El Caliche case, a program on urban and communitary betterment launched by GTZ from Germany and the Dominican Republic government.

The creation of a National Council on Urban Issues was a major step for the advancement of new urban policies in a very limited scenario.

El Caliche's experience was of upmost importance because for the first time the government gave credit to the settlement. As from then more urban betterment projects emerged, such as the depressed zone known as "Pantoja".

At the present EQUIS (Social Research Team) conducts a research on urban social movements, analyzing the project of an specific area located in the suburbs of the historic center, an area with growing population that comes from the center of the city to populate the surrounding areas.

Some achievements have been made on the municipality policies and the attention is focusing on attending the center needs in order to prevent the migration to the poor suburbs.

El Salvador.
Rene Cardoza.

Rene Cardoza explained the case of FUNDASAl, a NGO founded 30 years ago. FUNDASAL is the responsible for the financing and creation of 30,000 houses, helping 165,000 inhabitants, or 3 % of El Salvador total population.

He also presented the case of Las Palmas urban development project.

Las Palmas is a poor settlement located between the most expensive area of San Salvador and a military base. For the last few years FUNDASAL has been working on the improvement of the settlement.

Habitat Mexico Coalition (House and City, CENVI, COPEVI, FOSOVI)
The collective presentation of six cases of joint efforts of communities and organizations for housing betterment.

This organizations presented the reunion the document "The study of six cases of joint work on housing projects with the assistance of NGO", this effort forms part of an extensive research program launched by Postgraduate Studies Department under the Architecture Department. UNAM.

The study shows the experiences of the four NGO comprised by the Habitat Mexico Coalition. This are the projects that set an example for the housing movement in Mexico supported by Social Organizations and NGO.

Rene Coulomb, from CENVI talked exhaustively about the best practices sense, analized the attitudes present by the diverse national governments which in many ocassions gave their support to bad quality projects responding to particular interests, he concluded his speech proposing the following ideas:

10. Debate, definition and general consensus on Best Practices

The reunion's participants submitted ideas and opinions on many aspects that should be taken in account to construct a best practice, as well about the aspects that should be considered in the selection of experiences that should take part of the best practice 1998.

Some opinions related to the convenience of designing criteria and procedure methods in order to identify and select the best practices.


11. Outlining the criteria for the advance of the subregional work on Best Practices, ways of organization and effective work plans

Using the Secretariado AD Interim under the Forum (IBAM- HABITAT- LAC- Public Works Ministery) as a model, the participants presented their proposals on the following:

The meeting's assistants discussed all the points and finally reached the following conclusions.

12. Agreements on the operation of the Subregional Node

The subregion is formed by three different areas, so it is necessary to define the coordination node on the activities of the forum including all and each one of this areas.

The node's secretariat will be formed by a representation of each one of the three areas: Mexico, Central america and the Caribbean.

The secretariat will not have a physical representation in none of the subregion areas, this means that it will be based on a virtual base, which could be reached via Internet and e-mail.

The three representation offices most be capable of:

Since a financial support does not exist, the subregional node and its secretariat will be working with the financial resources of each one of the three representations.

Documentos > Foros > Foro Iberoamericano y del Caribe sobre Mejores Prácticas >
Ciudades para un Futuro más Sostenible
Búsqueda | Buenas Prácticas | Documentos | Boletín CF+S | Novedades | Convocatorias | Sobre la Biblioteca | Buzón/Mailbox
Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid Universidad Politécnica de Madrid
Grupo de Investigación en Arquitectura, Urbanismo y Sostenibilidad
Departamento de Estructuras y Física de la EdificaciónDepartamento de Urbanística y Ordenación del Territorio