We, social movements, civil society and local governments organizations are committed to social change through the promotion, defense and fulfillment of the Right to the City in every region of the world.
On October 31st, we have agreed to celebrate the World Day for the Right to the City, reinterpreting United Nations designation of World Cities Day.
The reason behind this decision is simple: it is not enough to celebrate cities. The affirmations to “leave no-one behind” (in the 2030 Agenda) and “leave no place behind” (in the 9th World Urban Forum Declaration) commit to the aspiration of cities that are a place for all, sharing universal rights, values, and common objectives; but also cities that are a place for everyone, where different needs can be heard and specific answers can be provided. The challenge is to make cities a common good and implement new ways to guarantee human rights with the vision of the right to the city and participatory democracy, while respecting cities’ role in contributing to economic redistribution, cultural recognition and political agency for all.
The Right to the City brings a new and necessary perspective for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the New Urban Agenda. Over the last decades, the Right to the City has been an alternative and a claim with which to respond to some of the most pressing challenges of our time: social injustice, inequality, exclusion, dispossession, spatial segregation, discrimination of all kinds, destruction and privatization of the commons and environmental degradation.
We understand the Right to the City as the right of all inhabitants, present and future, permanent and temporary, to inhabit, use, occupy, produce, transform, govern and enjoy cities, towns and human settlements that are just, inclusive, safe, sustainable and democratic, defined as common goods for enjoying life with dignity and peace.
The Right to the City refers to cities and human settlements that respect and fulfill the following components:
- A city/human settlement free of discrimination that embraces minorities and ethnic, racial, sexual and cultural diversity, which respects, protects, and promotes all non-discriminatory customs, memories, identities, languages, and artistic and cultural expressions of its inhabitants.
- A city/human settlement of gender equality, which takes all appropriate measures to ensure the full development of women and girls, with equality in the exercise and fulfillment of human rights and a life free of violence.
- A city/human settlement of inclusive citizenship in which all inhabitants -whether permanent or temporary- are considered as citizens and granted equal rights, including the security of tenure, despite their legal status.
- A city/human settlement with enhanced political participation in the definition, implementation, monitoring, and budgeting of urban policies and spatial planning in order to strengthen the transparency, effectiveness and inclusion of the diversity of inhabitants and their organizations.
- A city/human settlement fulfilling its social functions that is, ensuring equitable and affordable access for all to housing, goods, services and urban opportunities, particularly for women, marginalized groups and people with special needs.
- A city/human settlement with quality public spaces and services that enhance social interactions and political participation, promote sociocultural expressions, embrace diversity, and foster social cohesion.
- A city/human settlement with diverse and inclusive economies that safeguards and ensures access to secure livelihoods and decent work for all inhabitants, while recognizing and supporting the contributions of the informal workers, the social and solidarity economy and the social production of habitat.
- A sustainable city/human settlement with inclusive rural-urban linkages that benefit poor people, both in rural and urban areas, and ensures food sovereignty; a city/human settlement that protects biodiversity, natural habitats, and surrounding ecosystems.
The Right to the City also reminds us of the importance of gender-responsive and inclusive cities that embrace minorities and ethnic, racial, sexual and cultural diversity. A city/human settlement of gender equality cannot be accomplished without addressing safe, inclusive and affordable housing, transportation, public spaces and public services for women and girls, access to employment and economic empowerment. In order to guarantee that any and all of these criteria are met, it is absolutely vital that women are involved in urban planning, local governance and decision-making processes related to their urban environments.
The United Nations choice for this year’s theme is Building Sustainable and Resilient Cities. The Day’s goal is to promote the interest in global urbanization, push forward cooperation among countries in meeting opportunities and addressing challenges of urbanization, and contributing to sustainable urban development around the world.
However, sustainable urbanization is not enough. In the context of growing un-democratic, corporate and authoritarian regimes, criminalization of social movements and brutal attacks on human rights defenders, we launch an urgent appeal to the United Nations and all international, regional, national and local institutions, civil society organizations and inhabitants all over the world to go one step further and embrace the Right to the City as a collective path to build just, inclusive, peaceful and sustainable cities for all.