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Scenario Development and Participatory Processes as Tools for Integrating Urban and Environmental Planning: The Case of the Lower Paraná Delta, ArgentinaScenario Development and Participatory Processes as Tools for Integrating Urban and Environmental Planning: The Case of the Lower Paraná Delta, Argentina

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Scenario Development and Participatory Processes as Tools for Integrating Urban and Environmental Planning: The Case of the Lower Paraná Delta, ArgentinaScenario Development and Participatory Processes as Tools for Integrating Urban and Environmental Planning: The Case of the Lower Paraná Delta, Argentina

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The effects of climate change have become increasingly visible in many coastal cities where extreme hydrological events seem to occur more frequently, causing severe flooding and other negative impacts for the territory and its communities. Although scientific evidence gives rise to predictions on the impacts of climate change, the level of uncertainty as to what these impacts are remains high, constituting an increasing risk in areas where the planning process is fragmented and not coherent. This paper presents a reflection of the participatory processes used to address the potential of scenario development as a tool for integrating urban and environmental dimensions. Using this representative case study as an example, some methodological concerns about stakeholder participation and planning through scenarios were presented and tested. This is a study of the Lower Paraná Delta in Argentina, which is a complex estuarine delta located near the Metropolitan Area of Buenos Aires, the country’s largest urban area with more than 13 million inhabitants. There, lack of coordination and the disjointed management of urban and environmental issues turn participatory processes into an opportunity to build awareness and to set up networks of communication between different categories of active stakeholders. These stakeholders play a key role in improving a set of informed common development goals to help face the climate change risk incurred in the area’s metropolitan development.
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The International Journal of
Climate Change:
Impacts and Responses
ON-CLIMATE.COM
VOLUME 8 ISSUE 4
VERONICA M. E. ZAGARE AND DIEGO SEPÚLVEDA CARMONA
_________________________________________________________________________
Scenario Development and Participatory
Processes as Tools for Integrating Urban and
Environmental Planning
The Case of the Lower Paraná Delta, Argentina
The International Journal of
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Scenario Development and Participatory Processes
as Tools for Integrating Urban and
Environmental Planning:
The Case of the Lower Paraná Delta, Argentina
Veronica M. E. Zagare, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina
Diego Sepúlveda Carmona, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands
Abstract: The effects of climate change have become increasingly visible in many coastal cities where extreme
hydrological events seem to occur more frequently, causing severe flooding and other negative impacts for the territory
and its communities. Although scientific evidence gives rise to predictions on the impacts of climate change, the level of
uncertainty as to what these impacts are remains high, constituting an increasing risk in areas where the planning
process is fragmented and not coherent. This paper presents a reflection of the participatory processes used to address
the potential of scenario development as a tool for integrating urban and environmental dimensions. Using this
representative case study as an example, some methodological concerns about stakeholder participation and planning
through scenarios were presented and tested. This is a study of the Lower Paraná Delta in Argentina, which is a complex
estuarine delta located near the Metropolitan Area of Buenos Aires, the country’s largest urban area with more than 13
million inhabitants. There, lack of coordination and the disjointed management of urban and environmental issues turn
participatory processes into an opportunity to build awareness and to set up networks of communication between
different categories of active stakeholders. These stakeholders play a key role in improving a set of informed common
development goals to help face the climate change risk incurred in the area’s metropolitan development.
Keywords: Environmental Policy, Scenario Planning, Delta Territories, Stakeholder Participation
Introduction
his paper analyses the system of the Paraná Delta and Estuary of the Río de la Plata,
through which the second major hydrographical basin of South America (Del Plata Basin)
drains (Figure 1). It has vital relevance, not only for the region, a highly populated area
with more than 22 million inhabitants (INDEC 2010), but also for the hydrology of the South
American continent. A number of jurisdictional authorities, competences, and boundaries divide
the delta into three subnational jurisdictions (provinces) and eighteen local governments
(municipalities).
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THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CLIMATE CH ANGE: IMPACTS AND RESPONSES
Figure 1: Geographic Location of the Paraná D elta
Source: 2016 (left); Zagare and Google Maps 2016 (right)
A lack of clearly defined roles and coordination among government entities together with
conflicting visions of the area’s role make the design and implementation of policies and
strategies inadequate, disconnected, and unsuccessful, thereby increasing the risks associated
with climate change (Zagare 2012). In order to achieve successful adaptation solutions
addressing climate change and urban development it remains necessary to prepare for possible
future scenarios concerning the spatial and socio-economic characteristics of the problem.
With regards to implementing an integral approach for addressing the environmental and
urban dimensions of the problem, the aim of this work is to define the key issues of the relation
between the expansion of the metropolitan system and the Paraná Delta in the context of climate
change. An additional goal of this paper is to encourage actors to develop future scenarios for the
area by engaging in a reflective participatory process. This project addresses the general problem
focusing its analysis on the Lower Delta area, at the local level of the municipalities of Tigre and
San Fernando (Figure 2). The dichotomy between metropolitan growth and the natural condition
of the area are analyzed first, together with the primary, secondary, and tertiary impacts of
climate change expected for the area. After an analysis of the situation, a set of scenarios was
developed through a prospective process following the SAS (story-and-simulation) approach.
The participatory process included the previous recognition of active stakeholders who took part
in developing scenarios for more effectively coordinating and carrying out improved
environmental management policies in the territory at all levels of government in order to assess
environmental challenges in the urban development process.
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ZAGARE AND CARMONA: SCENARIO DEVELOPMENT AND PARTICIPATORY PROCESSES
Figure 2: Area of Study; The Municipalities of Tigre and San Fernando;
The Location of the Lower Delta in the Context of the Entire Delta Area (lower right)
Source: Zagare 2014
About the Area of Study
The Paraná Delta is a funnel-shaped wetland that covers 22,000 km2 (Secretaría de Ambiente y
Desarrollo Sustentable de la Nación 2008) and spreads over three provinces of Argentina (Santa
Fe, Entre Ríos, and Buenos Aires). Given that several parts along the 320 kilometre extension of
the Delta vary greatly due to the combination of environmental characteristics and a variety of
drivers and pressures over the space, this paper focuses specifically on the Lower Delta area,
where the dichotomy of natural conditions registered on the islands and the urban expansion that
originated on the edges of the delta is exacerbated. The Lower Delta presents a rapid growth of
the delta front toward the south due to high sedimentation rates, while another expansion is
taking place in the opposite direction that is related to the growth of the Metropolitan area of
Buenos Aires (Figure 3).
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THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CLIMATE CH ANGE: IMPACTS AND RESPONSES
Figure 3: Urban Sprawl of the Metropolitan Area of Buenos Aires and the
Advance of the Delta Front Due to Sedimentation Processes
Source: Zagare 2014
In this context, the Lower Delta is a very interesting area to study due to the untouched
wilderness found on the islands and the urban expansion that occurs along the delta’s edges.
Regarding occupation patterns, on the islands the pressure on space is associated with large-scale
production processes (cash crops agriculture, livestock production, and forestry), and it is also
related to the influence of the nearby metropolitan area whose expansion leads to the introduction
of “terrestrialoccupation patterns in the delta. On the coasts along the delta (usually called the
“continental area”), the result of unplanned metropolitan expansion is a polarized scenario of
sumptuous gated communities occupied by high-income sectors of society and informal
settlements (slums), both located on lands sensitive to flooding (Zagare 2012).
The strained situation between unbalanced metropolitan growth and changing natural
dynamics can be seen in the municipalities of Tigre and San Fernando, which must deal with this
dichotomy and their high vulnerability to intense climatic events due to their coastal condition.
On the one hand, Tigre, with around 380,000 inhabitants (INDEC 2010), is made up of 60%
islands and 40% continental lands. On the other hand, San Fernando has around 150,000
inhabitants, and its territory consists of 97% islands (93% of the islands are a Ramsar site, a
Biosphere Reserve of 887 km2) and 3% continental land. In spite of having spatial continuity and
being part of the same geographic unit, both municipalities have different realities and goals.
In Tigre, the previously described model of urban expansion that took place in the
continental lands led to a scenario of spatial fragmentation, while in San Fernando the urban
fringe is more consolidated. In the islands of Tigre, the impact of tourism generated a relevant
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ZAGARE AND CARMONA: SCENARIO DEVELOPMENT AND PARTICIPATORY PROCESSES
increase of population, mainly during the weekends, while the islands of San Fernando show a
decrease in population, productivity, and possibilities of socio-economic development given its
lack of connectivity and social infrastructure.
Impacts of Climate Change
Changes in atmospheric composition caused by increased greenhouse gas emissions can be
considered to be one of the primary impacts of climate change (Harkin 2008), while alterations in
temperature, evaporation rates, precipitation, and other climate variables can be classified as
secondary impacts. A third group of effects, known as tertiary or flow-on impacts, are a direct
result of primary and secondary impacts and are related to the vulnerability that societies, the
natural landscape, and the built environment have to droughts or floods, fires, and other negative
effects. This paper focuses on the secondary and tertiary impacts of climate change based on
regional and local climate projections developed by international and national research
institutions for the area (Figure 4).
The climate variables that mostly affect the area are related to changes in temperature,
precipitation, wind, and rising sea levels. Regional projections for the area developed by the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimate a possible raise in temperature from 0.4°C
to 1.8°C over the next ten years and up to 7.5°C in the next eighty years (Magrin et al. 2007).
Studies carried out by Barros and Bejarán (2005) for the La Plata Basin predict an upward trend
of precipitation levels of 16% comparing the periods of 1951–1970 and 1980–1999. This figure
is related to the increase of river discharge because for every 1% change in precipitation there is
a 2% change in river streamflow (Berbery, Doyle, and Barros 2006).
The area is also influenced by the discharge of the Parana and Uruguay Rivers, precipitation,
tides, and the meteorological phenomenon called “Sudestada,which is characterized by strong
and persistent winds coming from the Atlantic Ocean, not always followed by precipitation). The
Sudestada, associated with the ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation) cycle (Berbery, Doyle, and
Barros 2006), causes not only floods on the coastal areas due to the increase of river levels but
also the blockage of natural and artificial drainage of rivers and in cities. The combination of this
phenomenon with events of heavy rains in short periods of time produces the collapse of
infrastructure such as flooding defences, rain drainage, or transportation systems and problems
with the power supply and water scarcity (among other effects).
The recurrence of these events in a scenario where private construction is subject to little
regulation by the state thus increases the market value of these pieces of private land as well as
the vulnerability of their physically lower surroundings. Periods of drought also generate great
impact when combined with high temperatures and the tradition of biomass burning carried out
by farmers to increase their production. Although this practice presents some advantages such as
the stimulation of the development of new vegetation species, nutrient recycling, and the
liberation of seeds for new germination, it also presents several disadvantages such as soil
degradation and erosion, changes in vegetation structure, loss of animal biodiversity, etc.
(Kandus et al. 2009). In 2008, the fires caused by biomass burning carried on by farmers were
difficult to control because they occurred during a period of drought and were responsible for
burning 12% of the wetland and for spreading ashes up to 250 km away (Zagare 2016).
Moreover, following present trends, an increase of the frequency and intensity of extreme
hydrological events is also expected. The projections also show the existence of two phenomena:
(a) the increase of the frequency and duration of positive storm surges, which can cause an
increase in water levels of the Rio de la Plata, and (b) a decrease in the frequency and duration of
negative storm surges, which can result in a decrease in water levels of the Rio de la Plata, and an
increase in intensity, which can lead to troubles with the water supply (D’Onofrio, Fiore, and
Pousa 2008). Also, the increase in the water level of Rio de la Plata as a consequence of sea-level
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THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CLIMATE CH ANGE: IMPACTS AND RESPONSES
rise (Re and Menendez 2006) could affect the Paraná Delta shores, thereby producing large
floods.
Figure 4: Secondary and Tertiary (Flow-on) Impacts of Climate Change
Source: Zagare and Harkin 2008
Governance Issues
Over the last twenty years, the transfer of territorial management to local authorities has had a
significant impact on the pressures on the coastal municipalities at the Lower Paraná Delta,
especially on the municipalities of Tigre and San Fernando. New types of developments and
actors, mainly private real estate developers, have appeared along with an increase in high-end
gated communities and tourism facilities. This activity contributed to a fragmentation of the
urban space, as well as an increase in the risk of flooding of the lower areas given the self-
contained individual defences built around the newly built developments.
In spite of the enhancement of power at the local municipal level, there are still
discrepancies between actual practices that take place in urban development and existing
environmental policies. There are also gaps between the relationships that governments have
with stakeholders along political and territorial lines. Nevertheless, there is an emerging network
that has the intention of establishing private-public partnerships that are more development-
oriented, but the process is presenting gaps in accountability (based on the imbalance of powers
among actors) and operability, given the context of segmented views and an unresponsive
planning framework.
Methodological Framework
Linking Environmental Assessment and Multi-actor Approaches
According to Füssel (2007), adaptation solutions to address climate change are still not well-
defined or delimited, and there is not a single approach for its assessment, planning, or
implementation. Thus, adaptation measures must be flexible enough to deal with different
contexts through the application of diverse methodologies in order to generate knowledge
relevant for decision-making actors (Füssel 2007). Also, the level of uncertainty with regards to
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ZAGARE AND CARMONA: SCENARIO DEVELOPMENT AND PARTICIPATORY PROCESSES
environmental and social changes needs to put adaptation cycles and the creation of new
approaches into a context where the dynamics of each of these dimensions are able to be
addressed (Davoudi, Wishardt, and Strange 2010).
According to Boelens (2010), in order to reach a more active, development-oriented
approach, territorial management processes need to be readdressed in an actor-oriented manner
focusing on the reorientation of strategies, instruments, and institutional settings. In the
municipalities of the Lower Paraná Delta the desire to expand the participatory process to include
more community actors concerning the issues of environmental assessment and territorial
management exists, but the process still remains in its infancy.
Along those lines, this research aims to spark the integration of climate change assessment
with urban development through the creation of scenarios that recognize previously emerging
networks, their constitutive actors, and demands. In order to reassemble them in such a way as to
generate a more innovative, enforceable, and recognizable context, the Actor Network Theory
(ANT) on environmental assessments was adopted because of ANT’s understanding of actors
and their ways of interacting as networks. This paper then sets the framework to (a) define a
concrete network of actors at the local level to participate in this process; (b) to generate a set of
possible future scenarios through strategic prospective in a participatory process involving actors;
and (c) to set an agenda of planning issues that will lead to sustainable outcomes. These steps are
carried out with the aim of generating a platform of communication among actors and institutions
that allows for a bottom-up process of integration able to work within a fragmented planning
context.
Strategic Prospective as a Starting Point for Scenario Development:
In order to integrate climate assessment with urban development from an actor-oriented
perspective, analysing participation is an important part of this research study. In that sense,
scenario development through a participatory process following the principles of prospective is
the method chosen to achieve that goal. Prospective is defined by Godet and Durance (2011, xvi)
as a “multidisciplinary intellectual approach characterized by an all-encompassing and systemic
vision in which various actors and variables may play a determining role in the outcome of any
given future.In a collective construction of the future, the prospective process can also
introduce the aim of elaborating and evaluating actions to prepare for the future. In this case, the
prospective becomes strategic, as its purpose is to help generate a plan to achieve specific aims
(Crowter and Hornby 2014; Ministerio de Desarrollo Social Chile 2005). Hence, strategic
prospective becomes a valuable instrument for territorial and environmental assessment of
climate change as it can help build a possible model through the exploration of complex and
uncertain future interactions between natural and urban dynamics (van Vuuren et al. 2011) when
thinking about possible planning actions for the area.
According to De Jouvenel (2000), the five stages of a strategic prospective process are the
following: (1) the definition of the problem and the establishment of a time horizon; (2) the
construction of the system and the identification of key variables; (3) the gathering of data and
drafting of hypotheses; (4) the exploration of possible future outcomes; and (5) the outlining of
strategic choices. The first two stages imply an accurate knowledge of the system in order to
define the problem or problems, its time horizon in relation to their internal dynamics, and the
identification of key variables, actors, and relationships. The third and fourth stages are the most
complex and complicated since it is necessary to explore the past, present, and trends of each
variable and then generate a simulation, either through models or scenarios. Finally, the last stage
concerns “taking the risksand developing possible options for the future.
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THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CLIMATE CH ANGE: IMPACTS AND RESPONSES
Scenario Outline
According to De Jouvenel (2000) there are two types of simulations regarding a prospective
process: models and scenarios. For the purpose of this study, the method of scenarios was chosen
for dealing with the level of complexity of the relationship between urban and en vironmental
dynamics within the uncertain context of climate change. Although there is no single approach to
defining a scenario, in this paper the concept is addressed as an imagined representation of a
future reality or a set of “hypothetical events set in the future constructed to clarify a possible
chain of causal events as well as their decision points” (Godet and Durance 2011, 25). The main
elements of a scenario are the portrayal of gradual changes in future societies and in the
environment, the definition of a base year and a time horizon, as well as the knowledge of
driving forces and story lines (Alcamo 2001). Story lines are narrative descriptions of the
scenarios that explain the most relevant features and their relationships to driving forces.
Scenarios are useful for environmental and territorial assessments because they provide a picture
of future alternatives thus raising awareness among different actors.
There are two main types of scenarios: the exploratory, also known as descriptive scenarios,
and normative, anticipatory scenarios (De Jouvenel 2000; Godet and Durance 2007, 2011;
Ministerio de Desarrollo Social Chile 2005; Alcamo 2001). The main difference between the two
groups is the direction they take. Explorative scenarios begin in the present and end in the future,
presenting what could happen, whereas normative scenarios travel backwards from a goal set in
the future as a point of departure (Alcamo 2001; De Jouvenel 2000). This prescribed desirable
(or undesirable) vision of the future makes sense in order to visualise the actions that need to be
developed in order to reach those goals.
Additionally, Alcamo (2001) also mentions two other possible classifications of scenarios:
qualitative vs. quantitative and baseline vs. policy scenarios. The first group refers to the type of
data and the type of representation of the scenario. While the qualitative scenarios describe the
world through words, diagrams, or visual symbols, the quantitative scenarios represent numerical
information in the shape of tables and graphics. The advantage of qualitative scenarios is that
they are able to represent the view of several actors who are encouraging participation (Alcamo
2001); they are also a useful communication tool as they are usually represented by story lines.
On the contrary, the disadvantage of qualitative scenarios lies in the lack of numerical
information about the system. The second group addresses the difference between baseline
scenarios (which exclude policy context) and policy scenarios (which consider policy framework
and its impacts).
Within this research, the developed scenarios are a combination of explorative and
normative types, which are mainly qualitative (but have the possibility of being quantified in
further research), and also take into consideration policy identification and its impacts (policy
scenarios). Subsequently, the approach chosen to develop the scenarios (SAS, story-and-
simulation approach) is described together with the application of the case study.
The SAS (Story-and-simulation) Approach
The SAS (story-and-simulation) approach to scenario development developed by Alcamo (2001)
is applied to this research with the inclusion of modifications according to the specific context.
The SAS approach consists of a series of steps starting from the definition of a set of actors that
will take part in the process, the establishment of goals to be addressed in the case study and the
design of a scheme of meetings to define the key issues of the area along with the story lines that
will be the origin for defining future scenarios. This process finally concludes with the
quantification of the scenarios and the definition of strategic actions, research, and planning gaps.
According to Alcamo (2001), the suggested average time it takes to develop scenarios following
the SAS approach is around thirty-six months. This paper represents the conclusions of the first
phase of the process, which consists of a period of twelve months of work. The second phase will
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ZAGARE AND CARMONA: SCENARIO DEVELOPMENT AND PARTICIPATORY PROCESSES
be described in a forthcoming paper. The structure of the approach was modified to fit this
investigation and is shown in Figure 5.
Figure 5: The layout of the approach was created by the authors based on Alcamo’s research (2001) with the introduction
of changes according to the context of the study; there the two phases of research can be seen. The first phase is described
in this paper while the second phase will be part of future investigation.
Steps of the SAS Approach Adapted for the Context of the Case Study
Step 1: Establishment of the Scenario Team and the Scenario Panel
In this first stage, two groups are defined: the scenario team and the scenario panel. The first
group, of around three to six members, coordinates the scenario’s construction while the second
group, formed by selected primary and secondary stakeholders, provide the expertise or
experience in designing the scenarios. The workable size of the scenario panel is from fifteen to
twenty-five members (actors).
Step 2: Design of the Scenario Framework
The scenario team proposes an outline of the main issues with which the scenarios may deal
together with its fundamental goals and time horizons. In this stage the themes that will be
considered in the building of the scenarios are defined together with the meeting schedule of the
scenario panel.
Step 3: Convene the First Meeting of the Scenario Panel and Construct Story Lines
A workshop was developed in order to build qualitative scenarios and construct the “zero order
draftof the story lines. This draft is composed by preliminary scenarios, which will be
quantified and verified in the future by the scenario team and the scenario panel. After
developing the stakeholder review workshop, a copy of the story lines and the conclusions are
sent to the scenario panel in order to be revised and take into account any comments.
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THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CLIMATE CH ANGE: IMPACTS AND RESPONSES
Step 4: First Results
The results of the story lines are analysed and a set of actions and recommendations to
accomplish the positive scenario are developed, addressing the strategic dimensions of the
prospective method. A set of maps and diagrams are also designed in order to give a spatial idea
of the problematic according to its layers and other dimensions.
Application of the Case Study
Step 1: Establishment of the Scenario Team and the Scenario Panel
The authors of this project, who also conducted the research, formed the scenario team. The
group was assisted by two other professionals in the field of environment-oriented political
science to moderate the interactions among the stakeholders during the meetings. The scenario
panel (primary and secondary stakeholders in charge of the development of the scenarios) was
comprised of twenty members. They were chosen through an assessment, avoiding prioritizing
top-ranked (powerful) actors thus guaranteeing an inclusive group (Prell, Hubacek, and Reed
2009; Grimble and Wellard 1997). Stakeholders are usually defined as individuals who affect or
are affected by certain decisions or actions within an organization (Prell, Hubacek, and Reed
2009; Coombs 2007). Thenceforward, when talking about primary and secondary stakeholders, it
means that the first group has a relevant role in the system while the second group is more likely
to be affected by the first group’s decisions (Coombs 2007).
The links and relationships between the stakeholders are relevant as they reveal the emerging
links and the role of each stakeholder within the network, and it gives a chance for actors to
participate that are not often recognized or even represented in the institutional framework. In
this case, the primary stakeholders were members of institutions and NGOs that work with the
local governments on the development of environmental and urban plans. Secondary
stakeholders were the following: (i) academic members of different national and international
universities that are working in the area from the fields of architecture, ecology, politics, and
urbanism; (ii) members of associations of professionals from the field of architecture and
urbanism who actively participate in assessments for governments; and (iii) other independent
stakeholders related to production and navigation, who are also inhabitants of the islands
1
that
constitute the Lower Paraná delta.
Step 2: Designing of the Scenario Framework
The definition of the problem was developed together with the time horizon of the scenarios
(twenty years, with a base year of 2013). The areas of work were based on the Layer Approach
methodology (McHarg 1969), which consists of the analysis of the territories through their
separation into three basic layers: the base layer (natural environment), the middle layer
(infrastructures), and the upper layer (occupation). In this case three additional categories were
included: the conceptual idea of Delta dynamics, climate change related impacts and responses,
and planning and policies.
1
The scenario panel was formed by members of: Wetlands International Argentina, FundaciónHumedales,
FundaciónMetropolitana (NGOs and advisors of National and local governments, developers of the Plan de Manejo de
Islas de Tigre); Universidad Nacional de San Martín; FundaciónCambioDemocrático; Delft University of Technology;
University of Buenos Aires; Instituto Superior de Urbanismo, Territorio y Ambiente–UBA-; ConsejoProfesional de
Arquitectura y Urbanismo; and individuals (residents of the islands, producers, companies of port-related activities, etc.).
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ZAGARE AND CARMONA: SCENARIO DEVELOPMENT AND PARTICIPATORY PROCESSES
Step 3: Meeting of the Scenario Panel
A first meeting of the scenario panel took place in a one-day activity, which combined scientific
and experience-based presentations of three experts in the field of planning, environment, and
policy-making and a workshop to build the story lines. The workshop was organised around three
main activities: development of a diagnosis of the present situation, the construction of positive
and negative scenarios, and the definition of a set of actions for reaching a positive consensual
scenario.
Diagnosis of the Present Situation
The positive and negative aspects of the Lower Delta were analysed to identify the potential of
the area, its strengths, and its vulnerabilities. The main conclusions were that the Delta has not
been deeply intervened, and despite the incorporation of foreign species and the changes caused
by the development of human activities, it maintains its exceptional biodiversity, richness, and
potential as an area of opportunity. However, from a conceptual point of view, the delta is not
being considered as a subject of rights in terms of its complexity and potential.
In spite of being a unit in terms of ecological classifications, the delta front presents two
types of contrasts. On the one hand, the contrast between the growth potential offered by the
mainland compared to the islands has generated some sectors of the latter to lose their innate
population, especially in areas with difficult accessibility. On the other hand, there is a great
contrast between the situation presented by the islands of Tigre and San Fernando. Unfortunately
the islands of Tigre are torn between an increase in tourism, the preservation of its original
identity, and the advance of occupancy patterns related to the expansion of the metropolitan area
of Buenos Aires. In contrast, the insular area of San Fernando has experienced a decrease in its
population and its productivity. However, having been declared a Biosphere Reserve by
UNESCO, it presents great potential for the future in terms of conservation and development
under sustainable patterns.
With regard to climate change, the increase in the amount and recurrence of extreme
hydrological events and the aggravation of their impacts makes the development of research,
preparation, and awareness around the issue necessary in order to address the implementation of
adaptation and mitigation strategies. At present the concern about the future of these changes and
the effects they could have on the land and its inhabitants still does not exist. At each event the
government and other stakeholders act to solve problems only after they have occurred without
any comprehensive planning perspective or an early warning system.
In reference to the normative aspects of the planning process, the diverse and disintegrated
types of governance tend to clash. Although legislation on the issue is bounteous, fragmentation
between legislation for the mainland and for the islands collide producing ineffective norms. The
implementation of regulations is insufficient as well as the level of control by the institutions
responsible for enforcing these regulations. This fact has being exacerbated by the current
deviation of power from the municipal level. Decisions are made from a segmented and short-
term perspective without considering the possible future effects that each action can cause. The
legislation follows Land Use Planning criteria, which not only fails to consider spatial aspects but
also is also not flexible enough for a changing context such as the Delta and the urban growing
processes that take place along its shores. There is neither comprehensive planning nor a Spatial
Planning strategy, so formal and informal markets influence the process of urban expansion that
occurs in an unplanned way, sharpening spatial (and social) polarization.
Regarding water management, there is no plan, rather a few agreements and mere
descriptions about the subject, and there is no official study of the consequences of the
development of the of the Parana-Paraguay waterway (an international ship channel). Although
the presence and action of civil organizations are relevant, institutional awareness and increased
citizen participation in the decision-making processes is needed. Public participation through
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innovative processes and access to information are key elements in order to achieve a more
effective and integrated governance of the area (Figure 6).
Construction of Positive and Negative Scenarios
The proposed scenarios combined exploratory and normative types. While the positive (or
desirable) scenario implies a goal set in the future to design actions to achieve it (normative), the
negative (or undesirable) scenario is a description of a future possible condition (exploratory).
For reasons of time (the meeting was developed in a one-day workshop) only two contrasting
scenarios were developed, although there is a recognition of an in-between set of possibilities
that need to be addressed and will be considered at a further stage of research. Most relevant
story lines are shown in Figures 7 and 8 and described in the Appendix.
Results
This paper describes the methods and approaches applied in order to address the natural and
metropolitan condition of the municipalities of the Lower Paraná Delta regarding climate change
and governance, and the development of story lines to build an initial set of positive (desirable)
and negative (not desirable) scenarios through participatory processes. The initiative developed
in this study represents an innovative strategy to integrate stakeholders into the decision-making
process through the opening of a communication path that did not exist in the past. After having
carried out the first scenario workshop, based on the SAS approach, some advantages and
disadvantages can be distinguished regarding the methodology and the context of study. The
advantages of the approach for scenario development are mainly that the qualitative story lines
developed at this stage are flexible enough to be quantified by the introduction of quantitative
information. That means that the generation of qualitative data is useful as a “starting point open
to discussionand provides possibilities for further research in the future. Other advantages are
that the design of the SAS approach is opened to stakeholders to participate in several stages and
that the results can also be communicated at every stage of the process. On the other hand, the
disadvantages of the approach for the specific case of the Lower Paraná Delta are related to the
lack of resources and the poor availability of data. These issues may generate some difficulties at
the moment of quantifying story lines and modelling the combined scenarios.
Discussion
Governance is about management adaptation, guidance, transformation, and alignment of
institutions and stakeholders within a certain society; this means that civil actors become part of
the policy process and contribute to decision-making (Willke 2012). The results of the study
revealed that through participatory processes it is possible to (a) increase the actors
comprehension about the complexity of the system by interacting with specialists and other
stakeholder’s realities and perceptions and to (b) broaden the knowledge of specialists and
policymaker advisors through the understanding of others experiences. With a certain level of
confidence we can draw conclusions that some policy implications of this research could be
related to an incremental understanding of the context, which would lead this social system to
build strong networks of cooperation and to enhance its capacity to respond to future possible
challenges by anticipating them.
The scenario outline allowed the actors to generate consensual visions over future extreme
situations (both positive and negative) and to think about the in-between possibilities to delineate
suitable actions to take in any event. In a context lacking in modelled tendencies and with little
concern about the future, these kinds of studies are an invaluable tool used to introduce the
subject to public debate and to generate conscience of the need of further assessments. Beyond
the set of actions proposed around the scenarios, some general recommendations at the
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ZAGARE AND CARMONA: SCENARIO DEVELOPMENT AND PARTICIPATORY PROCESSES
institutional level regard the focus of territorial planning strategies, instruments, and institutional
settings on a more actor-oriented manner. This could guarantee a more integrated and innovative
way to recognize and find solutions for problems and to increase governance through the
legitimization of the decision-making processes.
Final Comments and Further Research
At present, it is more commonly thought that social networks are a valuable tool that allow
communities to engage in planning, helping them to better adapt and respond to climate change.
In contexts such as the Paraná Delta, characterised by a fragmented planning context and lack of
social involvement, scenario development through a participative process is an innovative
initiative to increase communication between institutions and stakeholders that generates a
positive impact on the creation and enforcement of environmental legislation within overall
territorial decision-making.
While this study provided key information about the specific relations within the Paraná
Lower Delta and their future projections, it should only be considered as a first step of a broader
investigation. In this first twelve-month phase, the context was analysed to find the proper
methods for exploring future possibilities for the area in order to achieve an integral approach to
the environmental and urban dimensions of the project. The forthcoming phase of this research
implies a quantification of the story lines and the mapping and modelling of the scenarios
through a participatory process to formulate immersive simulations to be discussed within the
panel of knowledge-oriented researchers and practice-oriented stakeholders and professionals. In
other words, the story lines would be spatialized and mapped using a Geographic Information
System (GIS) platform to build a model including the indicators developed through
quantification work. The indicators would then be modified according to discussions held by
stakeholders resulting in an interactive map. Through the construction of those (potential)
realities, stakeholders will find a way to visualize the spatial implications of each change in the
territory, which will be a key component in the creation of an innovative and deliberate planning
practice.
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Figure 6: Summary of the Diagnosis of the Present Situation
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Figure7: Summary of the Positive Scenario
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Figure 8: Summary of the Negative Scenario
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ZAGARE AND CARMONA: SCENARIO DEVELOPMENT AND PARTICIPATORY PROCESSES
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Appendix
Zero Order Draft of Story Lines
(a) Positive (Desirable) Scenario
I. Conception of the Delta
The high potential and unique identity of the Lower Paraná Delta is recognised
as being a natural area immersed in a context of metropolitan growth.
The conservation of the natural landscape does not necessarily imply a
reduction of the productivity or urban development of the area. Citizen
participation in the decision-making process is key for finding a balance.
The Delta is conceived as an experimental pilot area for the development of
innovative plans and programs addressing environmental and urban dimensions
in the context of the uncertainty of climate change.
II. Natural Environment
The natural condition of the Lower Delta is preserved and acquires a new
significance according to regional, metropolitan, and local contexts. Any plans
concerning the delta take into consideration its unique social and
environmental properties.
The purposes of the ecosystem are identified, measured, and respected by the
community and the government. The community is aware of the ecosystem’s
value so they are an active part of the conservation process.
The protocols for biodiversity conservation, water management, and productive
activities are respected throughout the diverse scales (local, regional, and
national) from the La Plata Basin to the local levels.
Modification of the Delta’s topography is not allowed if it alters the natural
circulation of the waters or the natural habitat of the native species negatively.
A change in the paradigm of natural conservation takes place. The impact of
every new intervention is considered in an integrated way, not only measuring
natural harm and benefits but also taking into account the economic and
cultural development of the population.
There is a measurement of the environmental impact of the activities developed
both on the islands and on the continental area as part of the same system.
Biodiversity loss is reversed. Innovative ideas are developed in order to
preserve natural species such as the ideas of “biologic corridors,” which give
biodiversity the chance to find continuity along the islands. The preserved area
of the Delta in formation, which is constituted by the new islands of the delta
front, is linked with other preserved areas. In spite of not being spatially
connected, the protected areas act jointly giving the species the potential to
maintain their natural habitats.
III. Infrastructure
Public infrastructure: the connections of the area are improved in terms of
coverage and quality. The services covered are extended both on the
continental lands and on the islands.
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Flood defence: in the continental area, the drainage system is improved to
respond to extreme situations. On the islands, the pulses of flood and draught
are respected. The flood defences are strategically designed to reduce artificial
intervention.
Natural species are used to counteract erosion caused by ships and boats
(mostly along the international channel).
IV. Occupation
New developments do not alter either natural topography or the identity of the
urban patterns of the original city cores. New developments balance the
inequities of the territory and shorten the social gaps.
Any new urban development takes into consideration the natural characteristics
of the wetland and plans occupation on suitable lands (avoiding floodplains).
The transition of the islands is gradual and controlled.
Construction on the islands follows different rules from construction on
continental lands. The increased quality and technology of building techniques
reduce the impact on the environment.
Construction permits are granted following the principles of general norms
instead of being considered on a case-by-case basis. Exceptions granted due to
pressure from private entities is not allowed.
The productive matrix is considered to be a tool for local development and
distinction of the area. The social dimension of productive development is as
important as the production itself.
Low-impact, native production activities (such as wickerwork, forestry, or
stockbreeding) that are subject to specific regulations that lower environmental
harm and allow populations to improve economically are encouraged. Small-
scale tourism is also promoted (accurately regulated and differentiated from
mass tourism).
Alternative sources of energy are tested and applied in the territory.
V. Climate Change Responses
Agreements between governments, institutions, international agencies, and
population for the generation and communication of knowledge are
established. The overlapping of research about similar subjects decreases due
to the creation of a free-access database.
The generation of knowledge about the natural Delta and the urban condition
helps to define the maximum level of occupation and intervention of the
natural environment in context of climate change.
The effects of the changes in Parana’s streamflow (which causes floods and
droughts) is counteracted by a strategic low-impact water management plan
over the inland territories. This plan is developed through a joint effort of the
governmental institutions and the inhabitants. Specialists give support and
participate with the population in the generation of ideas for flood and drought
management in order to preserve the productivity of the lands and also the
quality of the inhabitants’ lives.
Studies of vulnerability to floods and droughts are developed covering all the
aspects of the problematic (physical, economic, and social). As a consequence,
floodplains are no longer occupied for residential purposes and an innovative
solution for a system of public parks is developed.
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The drainage system of the urban fringe is capable to respond to regular pulses
of droughts and floods coming from the Paraná River and also to extreme
hydrological events related to the Sudestadas.
The delta front is a protected and not-intervened area, which helps decrease the
effects of positive and negative storm surges, acting as a buffer that preserves
the most consolidated territories from dangerous variations.
VI. Planning and Policies
Conservation and development of the area is present in the governmental
agenda and considered from an integrated perspective. It is a priority for the
local governmental authorities and agencies to understand and deal with the
entire territory (islands and continental lands) as a whole and create spaces of
dialogue for citizen participation. There is a free access to information and a
high level of interrelated governance system.
A territorial development plan is carried out in concordance with the Strategic
Integral Plan for the Conservation and Sustainable Development of the Delta
(PIECAS), developed by the National Government. As the PIECAS only
consider the island territories, existing legislation is revised and
complementary legislation is developed in order to include the continental
lands, which are the most jeopardized areas due to unplanned urban
development, socio-economic oscillations, and climate change. Also, the
government asks the civil society (organizations of producers, National
Institutes, etc.) to discuss some aspects of the PIECAS in order to revise the
document from an integrated point of view.
Land use planning evolves into spatial and territorial planning considering the
effects of the actions over the territory and the urban processes.
The government’s willingness prioritizes the social interests over the individual
pressures. The legislation reflects this criterion providing a robust set of tools
coherent to an integrated development conception instead of giving fragmented
responses to specific cases.
Governments at the local and provincial scale discuss the legislation over each
territory (San Fernando’s islands and continent and Tigre’s islands and
continental areas) in order to find and correct any overlapping or contradiction
in order to improve each plan. They also search for reaching agreements
between the diverse levels of governance because of the potential it has to
determine the capacity for economic development
(b) Negative (Not Desirable) Scenario
I. Conception of the Delta
The myth of the unproductive wetland is still present. Its complexity, identity,
and potential are not recognised.
There is no awareness of the accumulative impact that the activities developed
on the continent and on the island are generating on the environment.
The contrasted visions and developments between the continental part and the
inlands contribute to the existence of different possibilities for economic
development, accessibility, services, and opportunities for the population.
There is an increase in the differences between Tigre and San Fernando’s
islands.
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II. Natural Environment
The actions carried out over the Delta do not consider the condition of the
wetland and affects the environmental services of the system, which are still
not measured or identified. There is confusion within the society about the real
significance of the Delta in terms of the services it provides.
The protocols for biodiversity conservation, water management, and productive
activities are not respected.
The topography of the Delta is continuously modified by new developments,
negatively altering the natural circulation of the waters and the natural habitat
of the native species.
There is lack of transparency in the information about environmental impacts
of the different activities. Each development is measured independently.
Unregulated activities developed on the islands isolate native animals causing
their extinction. There is no biologic continuity between the islands.
III. Infrastructure
The islands are not connected in terms of fluvial transportation.
Flood defence: in the continental area, the drainage system is not improved and
does not respond in extreme situations, causing severe floods. On the islands,
every landowner takes care of flood management independently so they act in a
disorganised way, directly affecting the inhabitants as well as the
environmental system on the whole. The interventions are not adequate to
counteract the floods and droughts pulses of the river and for responding to the
increase of water level during Sudestadas.
All infrastructures are built with materials that are hazardous to the
environment without considering the use of native natural elements.
IV. Occupation
The urban sprawl of Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area continues toward the
Delta. The developments on the islands are designed from a “continental” point
of view.
New developments continue to modify the topography and increasing spatial
and social segregation on the islands and on the continent. They cause an
increase in social polarisation and spatial fragmentation.
The construction of the islands follows similar rules as the construction on the
continental lands. Building techniques are not improved and construction is
developed without following any Delta tradition.
Construction’s premises are still given exceptions as a response to pressure
from private investors.
There is an increase of tourism activity (it becomes massive).
V. Responses to Climate Change
The fragmentation of the research carried out by different institutions does not
allow a database for climate change effects on the territory to be generated.
There is no definition of a maximum level of occupation and intervention of
the natural environment in the context of climate change.
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The effects of the changes in Parana’s streamflow cannot be anticipated and
there is no awareness about the possible risks.
There are no studies of vulnerability to floods and droughts developed for the
area, so the floodplains are remain occupied by formal and informal housing.
The drainage system of the urban fringe is not capable of responding to regular
pulses of droughts and floods coming from the Paraná River and also to
extreme hydrological events related to the Sudestadas.
The delta front loses its natural buffer capabilities due to bad practices.
VI. Planning and Policies
Conservation and development of the area remain missing from the
governmental agenda and are considered from a fragmented and disintegrated
perspective. Information is not transparent enough or and is not communicated
to the public.
The Strategic Integral Plan for the Conservation and Sustainable Development
of the Delta (PIECAS), developed by the National Government, is still not
articulated with other programs, and the Committee does not meet or carry out
actions to achieve the main goals of the Plan. The PIECAS only considers the
island territories, and it still does not consider the activities that occur on the
continent to present an environmental threat to the delta.
Individual pressures rule over societal interests, so the territory is shaped by the
private sector.
Governments at the local and provincial scale are divided and do not
collaborate or coordinate any actions together. Legislation does not reflect the
reality of the situation.
Definition of a Set of Actions to Be Developed in Order to Reach Positive Outcomes
At this stage, the first step was to discuss strategic actions about the analysis of positive future
conditions. The inferred actions are listed below:
The establishment of an agency (or the generation of cooperative arrangements
between existing institutions) to address management of the Deltas, costs,
territorial planning, analysis of land markets, valuation of ecosystem goods,
environmental capacity of the Delta, etc. This should include management of
both the mainland and the islands in a comprehensive and multidisciplinary
way.
Encouragement of the proper application of the Strategic Integral Plan for the
Conservation and Sustainable Development of the Delta (PIECAS) and
development of measures to revise it and complete the missing points, for
example, the management of the two sides of the coasts along the Delta.
The generation of platforms for dialogue and the involvement of civil society
in decision-making processes in order to ensure their participation in planning,
regulation, and control along with the encouragement of activities to help
integrate the community.
Promoting transparency of government offices to ensure public access to
information.
The creation of an observatory in the Lower Delta in order to work within a
network of other observatories along the Delta. This observatory must be
related to local governments, academic institutions, independent researchers,
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and the local community. The creation of a free-access database will pre-empt
overlapping of research about similar subjects. The observatory should also
participate as a nexus in the creation of agreements between the government,
institutions and also international agencies thus encouraging cooperation.
Development of programs to help build awareness of the Delta’s habitats, flora,
fauna, environmental benefits, as well as the effects of climate change on it.
Implementation of strategic environmental assessment and the consideration of
the cumulative impacts of the activities developed in the area.
The development of a detailed cadastre of the Delta and continental lands to be
used for modelling the impacts of climate change and human activities.
Regularisation of domain titles of irregular or informal plots to include them in
the formal land market and decision-making system.
Generation of a cooperative framework for Municipalities and Provincial
governments that will collate different planning codes and correct any overlap
or contradiction found in order to guarantee coherent criteria to help define
occupation patterns. Review of the current regulatory framework, turning from
zoning to spatial planning (to broaden the scope of the legislation including the
effects of each activity, (citizen participation, etc.). The regulation of
population densities established in planning and construction codes to help
ensure that the transition between the most populated area (the continent) and
the less populated are (the islands) is gradual and controlled.
The creation of banks of native species and biodiversity corridors.
The development of a system of alerts and early responses in order to prevent
disasters and other contingencies (oil spills, floods, fires, etc.).
An implementation of pilot sustainable programs for the inclusion of
innovative technologies through the National Ministry of Science and
Technology (MINCYT).
The generation of value-added production on a small scale to ensure
competition and the organisation of cooperatives between producers to
generate localization economies.
The measurement of the effects of dredging along the international channel.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Veronica M. E. Zagare: PhD Candidate, External Researcher, Department of Urbanism, Delft
University of Technology, Researcher at the Superior Institute of Urbanism, Territory and
Environment, University of Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Dr. Diego Sepúlveda Carmona: Teacher, Senior Researcher, Department of Urbanism, Delft
University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands
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The International Journal of Climate Change:
Impacts and Responses seeks to create an
interdisciplinary forum for discussion of evidence of
climate change, its causes, its ecosystemic impacts
and its human impacts. The journal also explores
technological, policy, strategic, and social responses to
climate change.
The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts
and Responses is a peer-reviewed, scholarly journal.
ISSN 18 35 -7156
... Effects of climate change. Elaborated fromZagare & Sepulveda Carmona (2016) andHarkin (2008). ...
Thesis
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The Paraná Delta is a large and heterogeneous territory that can be considered an extreme and particular case due to the dynamics that interact within this area. Nevertheless, many of the conflicts that can be found in this area replicate in other deltas around the world, which are subjected to pressures related to urban growth and climate change, within a context of uncertainty and unpredictability. Those pressures interact at multiple scales and temporalities, affecting the components of the systems, as well as the relations between them and with the environment. This complexity reveals the need for the society (including governments, institutions, civil organisations, academia, etc.) to enhance the adaptability of the system of the delta, in order to cope with changes without losing their substantial characteristics. This thesis is focused on the study of the complexity of self-organising processes that emerge in metropolitan areas located in (or near) delta territories, in order to link climate adaptation with urban development from an actor-oriented perspective. For that purpose, this research based on the understanding of the self-organising processes that emerge in urbanising deltas to design and implement a methodology that can be applied at the local level, to generate an impact at other scales. The method designed in this thesis also includes the development of scenarios in order to think about possible future events and reflect on the necessary policy and actions to make the system respond to changes in a more adaptive way. The scenarios, as well as all the indicators analysed along the process, are developed through participatory workshops, after an analysis of the actor-network of the area, and also of the local, provincial and national regulations.
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