Spatial Inclusion: Assembleia de Moradores in Braga, Portugal

Braga, Portugal

December 19, 2023

Leaving no-one and no place behind in Braga, Portugal

The Municipality of Braga, Portugal, joined the SDG Cities Global Initiative this year to accelerate the local implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in cities.  During the city’s sustainable urban development journey, it hosts several noteworthy initiatives dedicated to improving the lives of its residents, one being the Assembleia de Moradores, or Residents Assembly. It is an initiative by BragaHabit, a municipal housing company founded in Braga, Portugal. Established in 1999, BragaHabit is dedicated to renovating and revitalizing the city's housing stock and facilitating innovative and socially inclusive projects. It invests in processes that empower people and communities and promote people's participation in decision-making. It offers a range of services such as the Balcão Digital platform, which enables people to apply for various housing support schemes in a simple and fast way.

The Assembleia de Moradores was formed in 2021 for creating social, economic, and environmental development solutions for Braga’s residents. Its main objective was to establish a civic innovation process in Braga by setting up a living lab that would allow for the design and experimentation of new solutions for vulnerable neighbourhoods. It also promotes a positive connection between the city of Braga, BragaHabit and the beneficiaries of social housing in the city. Functioning as a bottom-up initiative, it facilitates the formulation of improved public policies and serves as a space for sharing opportunities and ideas and work towards improving Braga's neighborhoods. Monthly meetings at the “Human Power Hub”, a social innovation center, bring together BragaHabit and representatives from 12 neighborhoods. The space also offers workshops that train resident associations on available financing instruments to fund their activities.

Besides the citizen empowerment actions taken during 2022, a fruitful outcome of Assembleia de Moradores was the co-designing of the municipal program of the City of Braga, called “Viva o Bairro”. This one-year program exemplifies public participation, with civil society actively developing and implementing projects in neighborhoods, backed by the financial and technical support of the Braga City Council. By empowering residents across various neighborhoods, including Enguardas, Andorinhas, Santa Tecla, Picoto, Parretas, Montélios, Bracara Augusta, Nogueira da Silva, and Rua Professor Machado Vilela, it strengthens socio-territorial cohesion.

A noteworthy project under "Viva o Bairro" is the "Ringue da Amizade" in Rua Professor Machado Vilela, focusing on local development through community participation. The project aims to transform and revitalize a former basketball court into a vibrant and accessible public space through cost-effective impactful interventions that foster community ties and social cohesion. It engages youth, promotes multigenerational activities, and cultivates a sense of belonging. By encouraging outdoor play among children, it contributes to their overall health, combats loneliness and sedentary lifestyles among older residents, and strengthens connections within neighborhoods.