Participatory approach – Community-based solutions

Published: 22 November 2021
Last edited: 22 November 2021

The sense of community on Monte Serrat and surrounding hills was fundamental to choose an active social participation approach. After all, it is the people living there who feel the impacts caused by climate change, such as landslides. The frequent visits by the Municipality Hall (Civil Defense) and the constant contacts with locals were extremely important to gain the trust of the community, especially to engage young people and more recent residents in the area. 

The relocated families were invited to participate in the workshops to value their history and the ties built in the region and  to take advantage of the benefits of the EbA measure.


The strategy of the participatory approach, joint between public authorities, civil society and the assistance of ProAdapta, (i) built community knowledge about climate change and its link to local climate vulnerability and (ii) strengthened relationships of trust among the diversity of stakeholders involved. The high-risk areas that have been vacated need to be urgently and consensually designated before any attempt of reoccupation, therefore the urgency of the EbA workshops. 


Residents of other neighboring hillsides that suffer from the same landslide problems were invited to participate to replicate the methodology and upscale the solution.


Alliance and partnership development
Co-management building
Education, training and other capacity development activities
Legal and policy frameworks, policy advocacy
Scale of implementation
Phase of solution
Inception phase

Enabling factors

  • Commitment and cooperation by the city’s technicians from several departments in favor of the EbA solution
  • Posters about workshops on Monte Serrat with the slogan ‘Let’s take care of our hill’, awakening the feeling of belonging and well-being
  • Special invitation using inclusive, non-sexist language to ensure that women feel addressed
  • The strengthening of the residents’ representative organization through dialogue fostered by the Municipality, supported by ProAdapta
  • Restoration of the Municipal Commission on Monte Serrat’s Urbanization and Legalization

Lessons learned

  • Initiate local dialogue with the community through ‘champions’ to engage potential and internal allies before opening and communicating the idea to external people.
  • Observe the potential alternatives of EbA measures in the mountain Monte Serrat while communicating with the local community.
  • It helps if the city is working simultaneously on public policy instruments on adaptation to climate change. In Santos’ case: (a) update of the municipal plan on climate change and (b) building of the Municipal Plan on Recovery and Conservation of the Atlantic Rainforest with climate and EbA lenses with different actors’ engagement.
  • Document a consolidated methodology in flyers and videos to upscale EbA to other hills. 
  • Climate risk communication must be done consciously and adopting an accessible language. It must also reflect related legislation and the need of intervention, always respecting the community rights to information access, the participation in decision-making of actions that directly affect the community and the right to adequate housing.

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