Planning within scarcity: changing a ‘growth paradigm’ into a ‘capability approach’ to the territories? A view from the northwest of Portugal

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Portugal inherited the European post-war planning approaches based on strong direct public action and regulation of private investment, both of which based on growth-oriented logics. Yet the socioeconomic and territorial impacts of the recent socioeconomic crisis have created different contexts and demands, aggravating the mismatch between the established planning practices and the needed action, thus raising the debate on the need to reframe the planning approach. Portugal is a paradigmatic case of a wider mismatch, a territory where not only the impact of the crisis and the following austerity policies were especially severe, but also where planning practices still have difficulty in dealing with these new demands and need to be reframed towards more adequate local policies. Set within this debate, and taking the Northwest of Portugal as a laboratory and a territory to reflect upon, this paper will argue that the recurrent growth paradigm of planning should be further changed into a capability approach to the territories: by understanding the existing contexts and their demands, local resources and stakeholders; by recognizing social and territorial diversity as a value; by defining local sensitive solutions instead of one-size-fits-all models; and by treasuring specificity instead of specialization or competitiveness.
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Spaces of Dialog for Places of Dignity, Lisbon, 11-14th July, 2017
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