I. Background and objectives
II. The institutional setting
III. Definition of integrated regional development planning
IV. The message of this book
V. The intended audience
VI. The organization of the book
VII. Criteria for selecting the case studies
VIII. Some disclaimers
The theorists of regional development planning are many, but relatively few practitioners have documented and systematized the process of preparing and implementing plans with the object of improving planning methodologies. Bringing accumulated successful experience with regional development planning to bear on planners' attempts to refine their methodologies and refocus their efforts is therefore a primary objective of this book.
There is a second reason to chronicle regional development planning experience. Since environmental issues first became development concerns, it has been recognized that an integral approach to development planning represents one of the best methods for properly treating those issues. It was widely hypothesized that if environmental concerns could be systematically integrated into development planning from the outset, many of the so-called negative environmental impacts of development projects could be avoided. It was also hypothesized that the multisectoral approach to development planning affords a useful framework for dealing with the many existing and potential resource-use conflicts that arise during planning and implementation. As in the case of basic regional development planning, however, theory has not been adequately checked against practice. The need for case studies on regional planning and environmental management was identified even before the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm in 1972. But in the decade since the Stockholm Conference, very little has been published.
A second objective of this book is therefore to review recent attempts to systematically incorporate environmental considerations into regional development planning.
The Department of Regional Development (DRD) of the Economic and Social Secretariat of the Organization of American States provides assistance to Latin American governments in integrated development planning and project formulation. DRD offers professional services to member states upon receipt of requests for assistance that fall within its mandate and capabilities. It provides neither financial assistance for studies nor funds for development. All its efforts are undertaken in cooperation with national or regional agencies in the member countries, and the key objective of its assistance is institution building and technology transfer. Its perspective comes from many years of experience in regional planning, river-basin development planning, natural resource surveys, and environmental management.
Systematically recording its experience for the benefit of its member states has long been a DRD goal. In 1969, it produced a casebook of its experience over the preceding six years.1 This book documented the methodologies successfully applied in integrated surveys of natural resources. Its central message is that natural resource surveys and data collection are expensive and that data collection should be "development oriented," not open-ended. It stresses the need for phased, integrated natural resource surveys that proceed rapidly from a general overview of a large area to specific investigations of a limited area with development potential. It emphasizes repeatedly that resource development projects are the end-products of the resource survey and the only true justification for investments in data collection. It cautions against systematically collecting detailed information for which no concrete need has been identified.
1. OAS, General Secretariat, Physical Resource Investigation: A Casebook of OAS Field Experience in Latin America, OAS, Washington, D.C., 1969.
The publication captured for the record an early state in the evolution of DRD methodologies. Subsequent experience and an enlarged technical mandate have expanded DRD's concern. The original technical interest in data and development possibilities has been broadened by a deep concern for the development needs of people. Thus, while maintaining its conviction that an area's natural resource base is a major determinant of its development potential, DRD expanded its focus from the collection of original basic data on natural resources to include the collection and analysis of regional economic and social data, all of which it now routinely brings to bear on the design of development strategies and the formulation of investment projects.
The current focus of DRD assistance is on planning the integral economic and social development of specific regions or areas within individual Latin American countries and on multinational regions (such as international river basins and frontier zones) where governments have decided to conduct cooperative development efforts. DRD helps governments implement policies designed to distribute the benefits of development among all territories and all segments of population, as well as to correct disequilibrium between regions. It supports efforts to accelerate development in marginal or depressed areas and to efficiently utilize the resources of relatively underdeveloped or empty regions. DRD is mandated to pay special attention to the development of conventional and nonconventional sources of energy. But it treats energy as a critical component of socio-economic development within a well defined spatial context, not as an independent sector. It also accords special attention to environmental management - a fundamental element of sustainable development. It does not treat environment as a sector.
Since 1969, DRD has assisted 25 Latin American and Caribbean governments in the execution of 75 major studies. These studies cost more than US$50 million and involved the formulation of approximately US$3.8 billion in development projects, about half of which are currently in or nearing execution.
For several years, DRD has felt the need for an up-to-date and more comprehensive document detailing its experience in regional development planning and the incorporation of environmental management considerations into the process. The Agency for International Development of the United States shares DRD's interest in documenting efforts to integrate economic, socio-cultural, and environmental factors into the design and implementation of development projects. Generating case histories about such efforts is one of the objectives of a major AID-financed project, "Environment and Natural Resources: Expanded Information Base," which the U.S. National Park Service is executing under contract to AID. A clear statement of AID's assessment of the overall problem appears in the "Environmental Strategy" it approved in November of 1983:
The common critical need in all regions is more effective management of renewable natural resources using integrated approaches to regional planning and project design. The goal of integrated planning is the preparation of a rational plan in which all development sectors have been assessed for their effects on all the resources in a given geographic area. It implies significant coordination among sectors and flexibility to modify activities to avoid resource depletion and assure long-term economic productivity.
In October of 1981, shared interests and viewpoints led the OAS Department of Regional Development and the managers of the AID/National Park Service Project on an Expanded Information Base to sign the OAS/DRD-NPS Cooperative Agreement, which has resulted in this book.
Definition of the terms "region," "development," "planning," and "integrated" are nearly as numerous as the people who use them. No attempt will be made here at general definitions, but readers must understand how the terms are used in this book.
The DRD defines a REGION as any subnational area that a country calls a region for purposes of planning or development. A region may also comprise parts of more than one country. It may be a geographic unit such as a river basin, or a political subdivision such as one or more municipios, provinces, or states. It may be the locus of a problem, as for example, an area of high unemployment, or an empty area losing its national identity due to an influx of foreign settlers, or it may even be an arbitrarily defined spatial planning unit. (Paraguay designated a triangular shaped development area for which a plan was prepared.) DRD has given assistance in regions ranging in area from a few hundred square kilometers to one million square kilometers, regions including metropolitan zones and frontier areas alike, and regions representing a wide range of cultural, ecological, and institutional conditions. In short, regions as study areas have no general distinguishing characteristics. But methodology for regional development planning does, and it is likely that what is described here will apply to a broad variety of study areas and problems.
The term DEVELOPMENT as it is used in this book carries with it the concept of sustainability. This goes beyond the controversy of "growth" vs. "growth with distribution." Indeed, sustainability requires dynamic stability achieved through change that is economically sound and socially just and that maintains the natural resource base. Development, according to this model, means change with growth and equity. The central development challenge is to initiate and sustain a process whereby the material and spiritual well-being of a population is improved and development proceeds are fairly distributed according to principles of social justice,
The term PLANNING as used here refers to the process by which the governments with DRD support produce plans and selected development projects. The final product is a report that contains the plan, the recommended development projects and programs, and relevant background material. The series of steps required to prepare the plan and projects is referred to throughout this book as a study. It is important to remember that regional development planning is an early step in the development process and that its final product is a report which contains a proposal for action, but that actual development may not occur for some time.
The word INTEGRATED when used in association with regional development planning is meant to stress the multisectoral and multidisciplinary character of this type of planning. It also sharply distinguishes it from more traditional sectoral planning, which is criticized throughout this book when it is the only basis for planning and project formulation. This book is about multisectoral planning in defined pieces of space.
This book is a compendium of experience. While someone else's experience is no substitute for learning by doing, development planners cannot afford to keep repeating the same mistakes either. Even a subjective account of what has worked and what has not under different conditions in Latin America can save planners time, money, and frustration.
The brief sections on methodology, not intended as manual of regional planning, indicate the existence and applicability of a methodology. For the most part, readers should figure out for themselves how best to apply it.
Beyond these contributions, the book is underpinned by a few basic concepts that orient all DRD's work. These guiding principles make it possible to respond consistently to widely varying tasks and conditions. The core ideas that knit this book together are a phased approach to integrated regional planning, systematic incorporation of environmental issues in development planning, and the use of technical assistance as a means of institution-building.
AN INTEGRATED APPROACH TO REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLANNING: DIAGNOSIS/STRATEGY/PROJECTS. Hard experience counsels that comprehensive regional development plans are too expensive, too time-consuming, too detailed, and therefore too fragile to withstand the realities of Latin American development. They may be intellectually satisfying to create, but rarely are they converted into reality. There are simply too many uncontrolled variables and political vagaries to justify investment in highly detailed regional plans, Indeed, the expression "comprehensive regional development planning" has been banished from DRD's working vocabulary. On the other hand, a simple grouping of projects is no basis for planned development.
DRD has evolved an intermediate approach inspired by practical experience in Latin America and the interpretation of development expressed in the OAS Charter. This approach to integrated regional development is characterized by distinct phases emanating initially from an overview of the region within the context of the national plan and proceeding to more detailed analysis of promising development areas, The three essential elements are diagnosis, strategy, and project development.
Diagnosis - A rapid analysis to determine the principal problems, potentials, and constraints of a region. The development diagnosis can include evaluation of natural resources and socio-economic conditions; delineation and analysis of subregions; identification of critical institutions, sectors, and geographic areas; generation of new information; and assembling ideas for investment projects.
Strategy - Selection of pressing issues and opportunities for addressing them with the resources available. These opportunities suggest actions that are politically feasible within a time frame short enough to maintain momentum. (Less critical issues can be left for another round.) Alternative strategies can be presented so the government has a choice.
Projects - Preparation of interrelated investment projects to implement the selected strategy. The projects, developed usually through pre-feasibility (see Glossary), provide a balance among infrastructure, production activities, and services. Collectively, their benefit-cost ratio must be acceptable to governments and funders. The projects are presented to the government, together with any ancillary actions required, in an action plan of short-to middle-term duration.
The case studies show how this approach has been used under a variety of conditions. By no means original, this approach draws partially on the experiences of other regional planners, some of them on other continents. (See, for example, Action Oriented Approaches to Regional Development Planning1, drawn from the experiences of the German Development Institute based on experience in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.) But originality counts for less than the simplicity and flexibility of the DRD approach, which has been tested over 15 years throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.
1. Action Oriented Approaches to Regional Development Planning, edited by Avrom Bendavid-Val and Peter P. Walker, Praeger Publishers, New York, 1975.
ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES IN DEVELOPMENT PLANNING. Development practitioners concerned with environmental issues will seek in vain here for mention of "environmental impact assessments" or frequent use of the word "environment." DRD holds that if resource management considerations are built into the planning process at an early stage, playing a role in the identification, selection, formulation, and harmonization of projects, then environmental impact assessments - with their high cost and adversary nature - can be avoided.
Frequently, the issues identified as "environmental" are, in fact, the result of one sector or interest group competing with another sector or interest group for the use of natural goods or services. Each group has its own idea of what it wants from its "environment," and these views inherently conflict. In the planning model DRD uses, the resource management specialist (or environmentalist) is not another advocate for this or that resource use or for conservation. Instead, this member of the planning team has three important tasks in the development process: identifying the natural goods and services available from the regional ecosystems, identifying potential conflicts in the use of these goods and services, and helping to resolve those conflicts given the socio-economic policies in force in the region. If the potential conflicts are identified early in the planning process, before much money is spent or positions are hardened, they tend to be easier to resolve.
This view of the environment and role of the environmentalist may strike some readers as controversial, or at least nondoctrinaire. But it has worked effectively where tested in Latin America and the Caribbean.
TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE AS A TOOL FOR INSTITUTION BUILDING. A recurrent theme of this book is that technical assistance must help to strengthen the institutions it is supporting. Technical assistance can be an effective mechanism for helping a national or regional development agency gain technical capability, increase administrative efficiency, and even influence in policy-making. The in-service training that takes place when local technicians work together with experienced outside personnel on practical local concerns can have much greater impact than more theoretical formal training. In addition, technical assistance frequently improves understanding between an agency's top management and its technical personnel, something that cannot be achieved by training individuals only.
Success at generating projects that attract outside funding has been found to enhance the agency's prestige as well as its budget. And, finally, technical assistance to conduct a study for a region's development should equip agencies to eventually conduct similar studies without assistance. An agency's capacity to identify, formulate, and evaluate projects all increase in collaborative technical assistance activities.
Several audiences can make use of this book. The most important is THE MANAGER OF THE INTEGRATED DEVELOPMENT STUDY. This pivotal professional occupies the difficult middle ground between the sectoral technicians and the policy-makers who direct the work. Whether an old hand or new to the job, the field manager of a regional development study takes responsibility for its technical quality and its success in influencing development decisions. Regardless of the type of study, the manager must help clarify its purpose, as well as identify and help mitigate conflicts between the participating agencies, study team members, and perhaps even the potential beneficiaries of the development activity. The study manager must figure out which tasks need to be carried out in what sequence, and should know which problems are likely to arise and how other planners have successfully dealt with them. Meantime, costs must be held down and deadlines met. This book is for the manager - not only for the tips that it may provide, but also for the consolation that it may afford by depicting seemingly insurmountable problems that others have faced.
The second important audience for this book is the GOVERNMENT POLICY-MAKER who decides whether an integrated planning study is needed and, if so, how it should be designed and what management structure would be most appropriate to execute it. Directors and senior officials of planning agencies, regional development corporations, sectoral ministries, and other government agencies in developing countries should all be able to benefit from some of the experiences and methods set forth here. The guidelines in particular are designed to fit their needs and their busy schedules.
The third audience comprises UNIVERSITIES AND TRAINING CENTERS that educate development planners and project managers. It is hoped that the case studies both illustrate the guidelines and provide raw material for classroom instruction.
A fourth audience is the STAFF OF INTERNATIONAL LENDING AGENCIES who may seethe proposed packages of investment projects and programs that are the output of regional development studies. If loan officers better understand the process by which these interrelated development projects were formulated, perhaps multi-sectoral or program lending will eventually expand and the planning process itself may improve.
And, finally, since this book is based on the experience of an agency engaged in technical cooperation, it carries a message for other AGENCIES INVOLVED IN THE TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE PROCESS Most broadly, the book offers guidance to international and bilateral agencies involved in technical cooperation with developing countries. Besides the agencies directly involved in regional development planning, this group includes agencies involved in physical resource studies, environmental management, integrated rural development, or local development. The intended audience within these agencies are executives, program officers and other professionals who assist in the design of development studies and provide the link to field study managers. All professionals engaged in helping countries in integrated development planning may find some wisdom or solace in these pages.
The book is comprised of four basic sections; the introduction, the guidelines, the case studies, and a concluding section about the future. It also includes bibliographies for the guidelines and the case studies as well as a glossary of terms.
The introduction, besides explaining the background and purpose of the undertaking, briefly defines integrated regional development planning as practiced by DRD and the history and evolution of its methodological approach.
The guidelines, the second section of the book, represent a distillation of DRD's experience in regional development planning and project formulation. They take the form of management recommendations and summaries of methodologies for attacking major regional development issues. The guidelines are divided into parts that closely parallel the sequence of action in a typical regional development planning effort: designing the study, executing the study, and implementing the recommendations. This division facilitates cross-referencing between the guidelines (which contain summary ideas) and the case studies (which illustrate those ideas).
While the guidelines draw on the full experience of the DRD, the six case studies selected cannot possibly illustrate or even typify DRD's experience in conducting more than 85 major studies over 20 years. Consequently, some guidelines refer to studies that appear in the bibliography that follows. Reports of these studies can be obtained from DRD.
The Case Studies
The six case studies are drawn exclusively from DRD experience, but they illustrate commonplace challenges in development planning and cover methodology, recommendations, and results in some detail. Each case study is organized in the same sequence as the guidelines: designing the study, executing the study, and implementing the recommendations. Each concludes with a summary of the lessons that have contributed to the evolution of better methodologies. (The location of the six case studies is shown on Map 1.)
The concluding section attempts a look at the future, identifies some of the major challenges to regional development and suggests how regional development planning methodology may have to gradually evolve to respond to changing conditions of Latin American development.
The checklist that follows outlines some of the major criteria used to pick six case studies from the dozens in which DRD has participated:
1. Projects representative of the mainstream of the Department's experience, especially recent studies that embody current methodologies.
2. Comprehensive multidisciplinary projects that demonstrate integrated planning methods.
3. Projects that deal with major regional development problems, particularly those that OAS Member States are likely to face in the future.
4. Projects that were generally successful in meeting their objectives, the most important measure of which is that the recommendations and project proposals were implemented. The negative aspects of these projects are also analyzed.
5. Projects that collectively represent work done in various ecosystems, including lowland tropical forest, grasslands, mountainous areas, and coastal zones, etc.
6. Projects that together represent a variety of institutional settings, including multinational projects.
7. Projects that collectively represent the use of a variety of spatial planning units, including development regions, river basins, and frontier zones.
MAP 1 - Location of the Case Studies
Readers should understand that this book focusses on the beginning of the development project cycle - the early stage of studies, in which projects are initially identified and formulated. It does not cast much light on the vexing problems of implementing regional development, which in many ways is an even more important challenge. Since DRD is a technical assistance agency, it cannot implement recommendations. The section of the guidelines and of each case study entitled "Implementing the Recommendations" therefore concentrates on actions taken before, during, and after the study to help government ensure that the recommendations of the study are carried out.
It is unlikely that DRD planning practices can be replicated using only the information provided here. Interested planners can assess the appropriateness of the techniques to their own development planning needs and then develop a skeleton format for action, filling in the details according to their own situation,
Doing justice to the wide variety of settings, methodologies, and time periods represented in the case studies required accenting - perhaps overemphasizing - process rather than product. The findings of planning studies are summarized only briefly, and the stress is on what the DRD has learned that others can put to use. Some important methodologies are described twice, once in passing and once in depth. A methodology for preliminary regional development diagnosis may be stressed in one study while the next may highlight techniques for agricultural zoning. A third may treat environmental considerations or project-formulation criteria in detail. Readers should view each case study as a showcase for two or three technical methodologies or administrative techniques.
No case study is perfectly balanced or comprehensive and no regional development study described in this book even approaches perfection - far from it. Throughout the case studies, failures are highlighted along with the successes. Emphasis is given to what DRD considers most significant from the viewpoint of a technical assistance agency. Clearly, there are many other perspectives.
In every case study, many pages are devoted to the development context in which the methodologies were applied. DRD believes that ad hoc sectoral planning must give way gradually to planning that takes greater account of factors of space and resources and that is based on the management of environmental as well as socio-economic systems. Applying the methods described here will be an uphill battle in a world organized primarily by sectors of economic activity.