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Technical Note on the São Luís’ Study

The capital of Maranhão, São Luís, is the fourth city to be analyzed along-with the socio spatial urban formation of this municipality. Succeeding the census, epidemiological, cartographic data systematization and investigation production, the  Urban Legal Amazon project  team presents socioeconomic information through gender, race and ethnicity classification of the population residing in São Luís. Thus, the following socio-spatial analysis is going to contribute to the review process or urban Director Plan elaboration of São Luís.

Firstly, in the paper “Gender and Racial Inequalities in Times of Climate Change: A socio spatial analysis of São Luís (MA)”, the Urban Legal Amazon project traces the main data collected, aiming to contextualize the territory and its population profile. Formerly, it is known, for instance, that the municipality has a population over one million people, which almost 95% residing in urban areas, formed mostly by the population self-declared black (69,62% of black and brown) with a higher feminine percentage (51,18% of women and 48,82% of men), according to data from 2010 IBGE Census.

Still based on the data presented by the last census, the research team is able to project a relevant socio spatial panorama to the comprehension of how climate change impacts unequally the population that are ahead in ethnic-racial and gender vulnerability within São Luís’ municipality. An example is the 2010 Census, which reveals that most of the population reside in houses and indigenous peoples, black and brown populations are mostly residents of these places, however, it is observed that the use of low-quality materials in the construction (reused wood and rammed earth) attend the same ethnic-racial and gender pattern: women, black and brown.

Within the diverse analysis presented in the paper, the research team of the Urban Legal Amazon project evidence the important data crossing to expose how climate change affects populations in such a unique manner as the municipality marginalize the nuances in public policies elaboration. See excerpt from the paper below:

 “When investigating the (non) access to piped water, a gender gradient is observed, taking into consideration that women are the ones who most face this lack of access. Among them, ethnic and racial inequalities stand out, considering that indigenous, black and brown women are the ones who most refer to this lack of access to water. This same pattern is noticed when perceiving other forms of non-access to this basic right, such as the use of a well or spring without plumbing.”

Another relevant emphasis presented by the paper “Gender and Racial Inequalities in Times of Climate Change: A socio spatial analysis of São Luís (MA)” is related to the city’s social functions regarding territorial planning in face of climate change. Thus, the team analyzed the 2019 Director Plan, especially concerning the 39 areas delimited as subnormal agglomerates (urban peripheries).

Climate change impacts out of the moment in which inequalities are intensified by the lack of attention to the vulnerabilities that these populations are exposed and unassisted in the city’s territorial planning and regarding public policy destinations. When it comes to São Luís, the situation is not different.

One of the investigated cases that is highlighted in the paper is the populations’ realities in the subnormal agglomeration of Coroadinho, which reunite more than 53 thousand inhabitants and, according to its urban territorial configuration, presents an area with high population density, however, this important point is not presented as an essential debate within the modification in the Director Plan (2006), even less in the revision of the Director Plan (2019).

“Therefore, there is a high social and economic exclusion, which places the population residing in the subnormal agglomerations of Coroadinho in an extreme situation of environmental and climatic vulnerability, due to the dimension of urban risk”.

The normalization process regarding the territorial planning of São Luís marks a series of questions that are reflected in the socio-spatial exclusion of populations in two basic instruments of development and urban expansion policy: the city’s social function and the property’s social function.

The effectiveness and intersectionality absence in São Luís’ Director Plan management and conduction affects, for instance, the municipality’s compliance to international agreements such as the  2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Agenda of the United Nations (UN), which sets out measures such as: build inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities and human settlements  (SDG 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities) and take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts (SDG 13 Action against Global Climate Change).

The São Luís’s paper is available to download on the page “Publications”


Juliana Dias
Communication Coordination
Urban Legal Amazon Project – Socio-spatial Analysis of Climate Change