The effects of climate change are increasingly important concerns to the scientific community, governments, international organizations, and exposed populations around the world. Many of the large metropolitan regions in Latin America, known for poor urban planning, settlement in hazard-prone areas, inadequate drainage as well as poverty, illiteracy, and poor health are particularly vulnerable to water based risks such flooding and land slippage. Greater São Paulo, one of the largest metropolitan regions in Latin America, is no exception. Here a significant part of the 39 municipalities within the conurbation shares a hydrographic water basin and joint exposure to water based hazards. Given that the physical, social, economic, political, and environmental factors of an area will all affect its vulnerability, its adaptive capacity will depend on the ability of governments, other interested organizations, and individuals to prepare for and respond to hazards. What then are the governance mechanisms available across municipalities and within the federal pact to build urban resilience? Does the National Civil Defense Policy (2012), which proposes the multi-jurisdictional hydrographic basins as a key to water based dangers, provide the institutional architecture for giving the appropriate priority to prevention and resilient cities?
This paper draws on the framework of analysis used in a recent study of similar issues in ten large African cities. The findings from the comparison with São Paulo show that without the creation of incentives generated through intergovernmental linkages, local governments will be unable to overcome the spatial mismatch of governmental jurisdictions and the footprint of flooding.