Inclusive and Sustainable Territories and Landscapes Platform


The Dominican Republic has experienced a relatively long period of political stability since the effective democracy was established in 1978. Despite its high rate of economic growth, the country faces levels of poverty, almost 25% (Dominican System of Social Indicators, 2017) and inequality, which are more pronounced in rural areas far from major urban centers and touristic areas.  

A significant part of the poor rural population are small-scale producers faced with challenges of a lack of access to markets, technical capacities, irrigation, innovation, land access, and a lack of road infrastructure. The country must also deal with the need to improve the fiscal balance, increase human capital and promote an excellent business environment. It is also faced with environmental challenges such as water shortage, contaminated water sources, a lack or absence of solid waste management, and conflicts between the preservation and exploitation of resources. There is a need to improve resistance to natural disasters and climate-related risks, in addition to increasing transparency in the formulation of policies and accountability. 

FAO supports the Government of the Dominican Republic in three priority areas:

➨ Institutionality of food security with a human rights approach

➨ Promotion of inclusive, sustainable development in rural territories

➨ Comprehensive management of natural resources and risks for the promotion of a sustainable, resilient agriculture and livestock sector 

Relevant public institutions

The National District, the municipalities and the municipal districts constitute the base of the local political administrative system. The Ministry of Economy Planning and Development is the most important government institution in the area of territorial development.  

The Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources promotes preservation, protection and restoration activities in addition to the sustainable use of natural resources.  

The National Family Farming Committee is comprised of the Ministries of Agriculture, the Environment and Natural Resources and Public Health, the Dominican Agrarian Institute, the REDDOM Foundation, OXFAM, Articulación Nacional Campesina (“National Farmer Coordination”), FEDECARES, and IICA, and responsible for the National Family Farming Plan. The plan includes 9 core concepts, including public procurement programs and a mechanism for effective inclusion and reducing rural poverty. 



Political and Legal Framework

The legal framework is conducive to the Dominican Government adopting a territorial development approach.  A clear priority of the Constitution of the Republic (2010) is the formulation of a plan for territorial development and to improve land management. In the area of public policy, there is also a strong emphasis on closing the social and territorial gaps in the country: 

The National Development Strategy 2012-2030 (END) is the primary reference and the basis for the creation of a series of institutional frameworks that configure public sector investments. Based on the END (Vision 2030), the government developed the 2016-2020 Government Plan for more inclusive economic growth. 

The National Planning and Public Investment System Law (Decree 493-07) establishes the municipal, provincial and regional development councils as advisory bodies within the planning system, as well as planning units responsible for developing municipal plans in the city hall. The law defines relevant planning instruments with a territorial approach: the National Public Sector Multi-annual Plan, the National Public Investment Plan, regional plans with the participation of city hall, etc. 

Law 176-07 of the National District and the Municipalities establishes the creation of technical planning units in the city governments as well as the Municipal Participatory Budget as a space for consultation and definition of investment priorities. 

There are two bills that promote decentralization: one for unique planning units and another for the land-use planning law, which are intended to drive the territorial approach from a local perspective. 

Rural Development Strategies with a territorial and gender approach in the southwestern region of the country have a multi-sector focus and rely on the participation of various ministries (Economy, Planning and Development, Agriculture, and the Ministry for Women, etc.). 

In regard to climate change and its impact on food security and the livelihoods of the most vulnerable populations, the Dominican Government has implemented specific actions such as the 4-Year Water Declaration, the creation of the Table for Water Resource Coordination and the implementation of agroforestry projects.  

Finally, there is a National Strategy for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity (2011-2020), which encompasses various laws and regulations in this area.   

Budget patterns and public spending

The Dominican Republic has put a lot of emphasis on improving human capital. The government has doubled the budget for education as a percentage of GDP since 2013 and implemented a series of reforms to improve learning outcomes. The formulation of the budget project still has a sectoral perspective and does not rely on the participation of territorial actors. Recently, an insertion process has been initiated for the municipalities in the National Public Investment System with the goal of promoting quality spending, increasing transparency and improving the capacities of the city councils. In 2018, there were 15 public investment projects in this modality for a total value of 2.2 billion pesos (equivalent to USD 46 million), which is 0.2% of the general state budget for 2018. Although rather limited, this effort is an advance in the direction of introducing a territorial perspective in state investment.  



Main programs and projects backing territorial and landscape approaches

Central American Rural Territorial Development Strategy (ECADERT), a regional and national strategy for Central America to improve the development of rural areas and their potential, favoring the platform for exchange and dialogs among territorial actors, local institutions, political actors, and civil society. 

Support Program for Civil Society and Local Authorities (PASCAL) - 10mo. Funds from the European Union administered by the DIGECOOM with the participation of the Ministry of the Public Administration, FEDOMU and a group of international and local NGOs, with a budget of EUR 15,600,000 (2011-2016). The objective is to improve the performance of 50 pilot city councils in territorial planning, budget management and human resources.  

Municipal Development Program (PRODEM). The World Bank, with a budget of 20 million USD (2010-2017), had the goal of management capacity building for 31 municipalities and municipal districts, improving expenditure planning and making basic services more efficient to contribute to poverty reduction. 

Program for Mesoamerica without Hunger (AMEXID). FAO and the Ministry of Agriculture, with a budget of US$1MM (2015-2020), have created a Local Network of Sovereignty, Food and Nutritional Security in the Province of Monte Plata, as a pilot experience within the framework of the Provincial Development Council of Monte Plata and under the scope of the SSAN Law. 



Obstacles for actions with territorial and Landscape approaches

Although there are legal mandates that promote the territorial approach, the country operates with a sector logic that does not favor inter-institutional coordination or multi-dimensional interventions. Furthermore, the framework has still not developed the laws of the unique planning and land-use planning regions. 

Local authorities are often perceived as service managers and not as promoters of territorial development and the central government continues to have a significant concentration of resources and decisions.  

Finally, despite the fact that local governments have accumulated greater territorial planning capacities thanks to various interventions, the technical areas of local governments continue to have significant knowledge and capacity gaps, which further deteriorate with changes in the elected authorities. 

The public budget has been concentrated in the central government insomuch as the budgetary allocation for city councils has been reduced (it is currently equivalent to a fourth of what is established by law).  


Despite having a significant legal framework that favors the preservation of resources, decentralization and rural territory, the Dominican Republic still has a markedly sectoral approach both in terms of interventions and the formation of the national budget. The strategic territorial plans have not been turned into public policy management tools despite local capacity building efforts for development planning with this approach. This is a long process that still has not been in place long enough, whose advances are primarily thanks to international cooperation applying a multidimensional perspective of development in its projects.  

A landscape approach has still not been adopted, as it is still rather unfamiliar in the country. The landscape issue is limited to the protection of natural resources (biodiversity, forests and watersheds).  

CASE STUDY: Strategic alliance for inclusive development in the Southwestern region

The Southwestern region of the Dominican Republic contains the provinces with the highest levels of poverty in the country. 75.4% of the households are living in poverty, according to the official index that takes into account the quality of housing, human capital, the existence of basic services and the capacity for family support. Despite the fact that over the past few years, various development initiatives and action plans have been implemented in the region, poverty remains and at higher rates in more vulnerable groups. Structural weaknesses have not been resolved. 

The interaction between the different planning scales is not clear, and the relationship between the national and municipal levels of government is unidirectional and very centralized. Furthermore, there is a significant volume of public investment on a territorial scale that is not associated with the planning processes on a local scale. 

With the goal of improving institutional coordination and governance and promoting the territorialization of public investment, the Strategic Alliance for inclusive development in the Southwestern region of the country was put into place. This pilot initiative was implemented in six municipalities in this region, which were selected based on three variables: installed capacity, level of vulnerability (economic, social and climate) and level of rurality. These municipalities had development councils, which were rather weak in terms of operation and bidding levels. The project, executed by FAO along with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Economy, Planning and Development (MEPD), had a duration of one year (2018-2019) and a budget of US $75,000.   

The initiative includes two components:  


  • Territorial governance, encompassing three aspects: the integration of actions through the creation of a strategic alliance for inclusive development in the Southwestern region; intersectorality, through the pilot coordination of sectoral planning between the MEPD and the Ministry of Agriculture; and multiscalarity, through the creation of spaces for planning the territorialization of public investment among the different territorial scales and the government.  
  • Territorial planning: firstly, the Ministry of Agriculture implemented the application of a territorial approach in the operationalization scheme of the National Family Farming Plan (which translated into the regionalization of actions); and secondly, the creation of the National System for Food and Nutrition Security, establishing food and nutrition security sovereignty networks as a mechanism for participation in the system.  

This initiative, which is currently being finalized, addresses challenges in the multilevel management of territorial development and rural-urban links, proposing a new perspective, looking from a national level to a territorial scale. It is intended to help make advances in decentralization by improving coordination and the efficiency of territorial planning processes, thereby contributing to revitalizing the Southwestern macro region and reducing rural poverty and extreme poverty.  



CASE STUDY: Planning for Climate Adaptation Program

The four-year Planning for Climate Adaptation Program (2015-2019) was aimed at improving the resilience of people living in cities of the Dominican Republic to the adverse impacts of climate change by working with municipalities to mainstream climate change adaptation (CCA) into their participatory land use planning processes. The program was funded by USDAID and included three components: 1) Improve technical and management capacity of municipal planners, 2) Incorporate CCA considerations into the municipal planning process, and 3) Support the scale-up of climate resilient land use planning best practices. The program was implemented by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), with the collaboration of three key partners: the Federation of Dominican Municipalities (FEDOMU); the Technological Institute of Santo Domingo (INTEC) and ICF.  

The Land Use Planning Guide for municipalities (PMOT, in Spanish abbreviation) was used as program implementing approach. The PMOT Guide is a seven-stage process to develop comprehensive municipal land use plans integrating principles of CCA and participatory planning. The program implemented the PMOT process in the National District (capital of the Dominican Republic) and three municipalities: Santiago, Las Terrenas and San Pedro de Macorís. By the end of the Program, all four jurisdictions had climate-adapted land use plans and climate adaptation plans and three had drafted land use planning ordinances. These were the first municipal land use plans in the Dominican Republic that include rural districts. 


  • Santiago’s adaptation portfolio includes adding land use categories for specific hazards, conservation and agriculture; a reforestation program in the urbanized zones and a pilot paying scheme for environmental services such as de-silting and water quality maintenance in the Rio Yasica upper watershed. The portfolio also recommends expanding the classifications of non-developable lands according to specific objectives (historic, cultural, biodiversity, agricultural and forest, as well as natural risks, sanitation). Greater emphasis on green infrastructure to promote green roofs’ construction, vertical gardens and other innovative designs.  
  • Las Terrenas’ adaptation portfolio proposes zoning regulations to promote ecosystems-based adaptation and biodiversity, as well as recommendations to expand non-developable land classifications to include agriculture and forestry, conservation, climatic and geological risks, and environmental health hazard hotspots.  
  • San Pedro de Macoris’s adaptation portfolio proposes restricting development along land prone to flooding and landslides, reducing or eliminating altogether the risk of flooding along flood prone settlements; ecosystems-based adaptation to promote biodiversity and ecotourism, preservation of historic resources, etc 



The implementation approach based on (i) leverage existing frameworks; (ii) establish protocols for promoting multi-stakeholder collaboration; (iii) connect a pool of expert planners, CC specialists and municipal staff and (iv) identify clear mechanisms for coordination, guides program success. Engaging local partners (FEDOMU), was key to sustainability of results.  Among the constraints are (i) lack of effective political commitment to further the urban resilience agenda1, (ii) poor institutional capacity at process inception, (iii) lack of well-qualified personnel to execute the workflow.  

Three lessons learnt are highlighted here: (1) make more clear the PMOT methodology to improve implementation; (2) employ different strategies with political leaders, other governmental agencies, the private sector, local NGOs, neighborhood associations, etc; (3) secure a sustained participation of civil society and the private sector throughout all stages. 

For further information, please consult: Planning for climate adaptation programme. Final Report (USAID) 




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