Community and gender oriented Ecosystem-based adaptation measure: The Monte Serrat case, Brazil

GIZ Brazil
Published: 22 November 2021
Last edited: 21 February 2023
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Due to population density and high cost of living, many families occupied hill areas classified as high risk due to deforestation and increase of rainfall which leads to soil erosion and frequent landslides, causing destruction of homes and even deaths.

This scenario led to the removal of families to affordable housing. Unoccupied areas need a new use to avoid illegal occupation. The city hall and the community, with the support of ProAdapta, started a process of participatory discussion on the design of an Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) measure for the site, using restoration of native forests with a focus on climate change adaptation and, at the same time, on the well-being and resilience of local communities. Through the use of inclusive and non-sexist language and group dynamics with city hall staff and members of the community about recognition of privileges and differences in the perception of climate risk between men and women, it was possible to raise awareness about gender equity. 


South America
Scale of implementation
Forest ecosystems
Tropical evergreen forest
Disaster risk reduction
Ecosystem services
Erosion prevention
Forest Management
Gender mainstreaming
Habitat fragmentation and degradation
Health and human wellbeing
Land management
Legal & policy frameworks
Local actors
Urban planning
Urban and Disaster Risk Management
Resilience and disaster risk management
Urban poverty and housing
Land and Forest degradation
Ecosystem loss
Infrastructure development
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Lack of infrastructure
Poor governance and participation
Unemployment / poverty
Sustainable development goals
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 5 – Gender equality
SDG 10 – Reduced inequalities
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 13 – Climate action
Aichi targets
Target 10: Ecosystems vulnerable to climate change
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge
Sendai Framework
Target 2: Reduce the number of affected people globally by 2030
Target 5: Increase the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020
Business engagement approach
Indirect through government


Monte Serrat, Santos - São Paulo, Brazil


The main challenges were:

- Environmental: access to the hill, especially during rainy seasons. Also, deforestation of hills and, consequently, erosion and landslides, due to the effects of climate change and loss of biodiversity.

- Social: integration between sectors of the City Hall; difficulty in engaging community residents and in gaining the community's trust; Social vulnerability and marginalization of residents; Cultural entrenchment in place making the relocation process more time consuming;

- Economic: allocation limitation of funds for the implementation of the EbA methodology; Limitation of resources and options for better housing for residents.


On Monte Serrat live 654 men and 721 women who benefit from the project´s work. 40 technical servants from the City Hall of Santos were trained. The replication of the methodology for scaling up is being worked on at the regional level with 8 more cities.

How do the building blocks interact?

The participatory approach (building block 1), allowed the integration of local community actors, city hall technicians, NGOs involved in Monte Serrat and consultants of GIZ-ProAdapta. This way it was possible to develop awareness-raising initiatives regarding gender equity, present in building block 2. 


The integration of actors also enabled learning experiences and exchange between technicians from the municipality. This way, it was possible to establish an integrated view on planning for adaptation to climate change in the city, leading to building block 4. The project integrated views from different sectors of the City Hall and led to the connection between public policies, having the EbA approach as a cross-theme to them.


Due to the significant level of engagement of multi sectors in the Monte Serrat EbA measures achieved in the participatory process, described in building blocks 1 and 2, it was possible to make progress, despite COVID19, in terms of public policies development that include EbA and approval through remote meetings using google earth and participatory methodology tools (building block 3).


The case of EbA in Monte Serrat, Santos has the following positive impacts:

  1. It enabled the joint work between various sectors of the city hall (Secretary of Works, Urban Development, Environment, Public Safety, Social Assistance, Health, Administration of the Hills) as well as civil society institutions (Association of Improvements of Monte Serrat, NGO Warriors of Peace), promoting dialogue for a common good and building trust between City Hall secretariats, departments and civil society;
  2. It promoted training for technicians and the community on the EbA methodology, which integrates the relationship between human, ecosystem services and climate resilience;
  3. It allowed for reflection on gender equity and the unequal impacts of climate change;
  4. It promoted income for the community, as the workshops were developed with the support and labor of women from Monte Serrat;
  5. It promoted reflections on the importance of biodiversity and ecosystem services;
  6. It opened a horizon of possibilities and opportunities for the community and gave a new meaning to the natural environment as a possible source of income and food security.


Danielle Almeida - GIZ ProAdapta Project Consultant

"I, Arquimedes, have a personal commitment to fight to take Monte Serrat to the best places and bring the best to the hill I live, but we still face (many residents) discouragement due to long years of neglect and delay. It is still difficult to get out of that (urban) culture being born here, but I allowed myself to learn about new experiences and open the doors of Monte Serrat for everyone and get to know the Ecosystem-based Adaptation - EbA methodology.


And today we can see the possibilities coming, being part of a unique project aimed at transforming the environment we live in. Reducing the impact we ourselves have on Monte Serrat is like asking forgiveness from this mountain. 


Our mission is great, our responsibility is enormous and I see how important it is for our residents to see how the technicians of this project see it. My imagination draws and reproduces a perfect world, because I can't allow myself to see something other than that, because that's what we live in today.


The resident's self-esteem needs to be conquered and I will do what I can so that there is the participation of the residents. The feeling of belonging exists, but it is shaken by the possibility of leaving here and others who are still disbelieving by vote buying policy”.


Arquimedes Machado, president of the Monte Serrat Improvement Association, 13 March 2020

Contributed by

paulafrancomoreira_41396's picture

Paula Moreira Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH

Other contributors

Santos City Hall, Climate Change Section
Santos City Hall, Climate Change Section
Santos Municipal Civil Defense
Santos City Hall, Climate Change Section
Santos City Hall, Climate Change Section
Daniel Onias
Santos City Hall, Climate Change Section
Santos City Hall, Climate Change Section
Arquimedes Machado
Community partners - Monte Serrat
Simone Carolino
Community partners - Monte Serrat
GIZ Brazil, ProAdapta Project - Consultant
GIZ Brazil, ProAdapta Project - Consultant
GIZ Brazil, ProAdapta Project - Consultant
GIZ Brazil, ProAdapta Project