Jacobi P. Poder local, políticas sociais e sustentabilidade. [Local power, social policies, and sustainability.] Saúde e Sociedade [Health and Society] (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) 1999; 8(1):31-48.

Objectives: To analyze democratic organization of power at the local level in relation to the sustainability of social policies.

Methodology: Analytical and interpretive.

Results: The problem of sustainability is central in alternative models to guarantee equity and to articulate the global and the local. Democratic organization of local power is central in programs that aim to achieve a balance among stakeholders and among policies.

The issue of the environment should enter into local planning and policies. Actions of human beings exert ever more complex impacts on the environment. The concept of sustainable development assists in formulating alternative development.

In this context, grass-roots participation helps institutionalize more direct, flexible, and transparent relationships. These relationships acknowledge the rights of citizens and reinforce ties of solidarity, on behalf of an active citizenry that possesses an ability to question the established order. Experiences of local power have taken place, for the most part, within municipal administrations. These experiences demonstrate that, with political will, governmental actions guided by principles of environmental sustainability can yield tangible benefits for economic and social development.

Conclusions: Action on the municipal level opens the way to balance policies for social development. Such balancing widens the field of analysis and of action to include such concepts as quality of life, the exercise of citizens’ rights, and enhancement of human capabilities.

Copyright 2007 University of New Mexico