26.05.16 - CODEV is setting up an international partnership with the State University of Montes Claros (Unimontes) through the urban line of the UNESCO Chair.

Thanks to a new partnership agreement between the Cooperation & Development Center - CODEV and Unimontes, Professor Bolay had the opportunity to visit this city of 400,000 inhabitants in the State of Minas Gerais, Brazil. The goal of the visit, to this urban center in a region of roughly 2 million inhabitants, was twofold: the first was to evaluate a full-scale urban planning process, on the occasion of the development and implementation of Montes Claros’ new master plan; the second, following the work done in Haiti and Burkina Faso, was to consider this planning exercise relative to Montes Claros’s intermediation function in a rural area undergoing tremendous change.

The city, with its rapidly growing population (and thus in need of new low- and middle- income neighborhoods) is also a valued industrial area for large national and international companies. The interviews and surveys, co-conducted by Professors Jean-Claude Bolay (director of the CODEV) and Iara Soares de França (from the Department of geosciences) starting in 2015, helped in addressing both the content of the planning and how it is perceived by the various actors involved. The goal was to provide a rigorous analysis of the current situation, to give voice to the concerns of the various groups involved (or not), and to offer analyses and recommendations for a planning methodology that focuses on priority issues and social demands at both the urban and the regional level.

Comparing similar experiences in Burkina Faso, Haiti and Argentina, Professor Bolay was invited to give a lecture on planning issues to an audience of over 270 students, teachers, researchers and professionals. Quite a crowd for a topic one might think only interests a few experts, which just goes to show that Brazilians have a strong interest in urban development!

An article entitled "Prosperity and Social Inequalities: Montes Claros, How to Plan an Intermediary City in Brazil" will be published in June 2016 in the journal Current Urban Studies. Exchanges between our scientific teams are also scheduled over the next three years…a great start to a promising partnership!

Author:Jean-Claude BolaySource:Cooperation