Right to the city and Cities for All

  • The “right to the city,” an umbrella term that encompasses political power relationships, land appropriation and social justice within the context of globalized “world cities” that are undergoing rapid transformation.

The Rationale behind the Right to the City Approach

  • The concept of the Right to the City originates within the human rights agenda and gained force with the creation of the Global Platform for the Right to the City, a civil society initiative established at the International Meeting on the Right to the City, in São Paulo, Brazil, in November 2014. From the perspective of this initiative, the Right to the City means the “right of all inhabitants, present and future, permanent and temporary to use, occupy and produce just, inclusive and sustainable cities, defined as a common good essential to a full and decent life.” Although the Right to the City is a fuzzy concept, it has been relates to the idea that as global integration progresses and cities are reorganized as hubs for capital, it is often the most vulnerable populations that suffer. While social and economic inequality results from a complex set of factors, the Right to the City recalls the need to maximize the participation of city dwellers in local governance to avoid further marginalization. For advocates of the Right to the City, access is crucial, as gentrification, increasing density, economic shifts and the physical restructuring of cities all have the potential to exacerbate inequality, one result being that long-time residents can be forced out of the city core. Proponents underscore the centrality of thinking about land tenure and urban land use within the Right to the City concept, and routinely note that urbanization is a fractious process that creates tension among different groups inhabiting cities.

Local practices in Latin American and Europe, are they applicable in Asia?

  • Local and regional governments as well as some Latin American and European countries have supported the inclusion of the Right to the City concept in the New Urban Agenda. They have argued that the concept provides a way to answer the call of communities to be part of decision making and to bridge the growing detachment between citizens and their institutions. Examples of Right to the City concepts being included in policy making come from places like Belgium, Kenya and New Zealand, where community land trusts were created to democratically manage and administer urban zones. Colombia implemented legislation to redistribute “socially created land value,” and Brazil has created the 2001 City Statute, a development law regulating urban policy and ensuring that the Right to the City has legal value.