A Habitable Earth for All: 10 calls for Sustainable Settlements

Since the 80ies with highlights at the conferences of Rio 1992 and in Istanbul 1996 governments and civil society stated a deep crisis of our path of development both in general and regarded to the urban sphere: The current path of global economic development has failed to procure growing prosperity for all human beings. In the race for growth and economic profit we are destroying the natural, social and even the economic bases for solving the problems of humanity. The human settlements and their inhabitants are a main focus of this crisis: They contribute to it, they suffer from it, they will have to solve it.

At the same time these conferences called for a vision, that should overcome the crisis: Within the limits of the natural capacities we must and can manage that this earth becomes a decent place for living for all, including the future generations. This can work by focusing and optimizing the existent political, economical, social and cultural structures, the urban developments and technical progresses on a set of globally agreed goals and priorities like the human rights and the protection of common global goods. To do so governments, organizations, economy and inhabitants have to work together and found a new form of global partnership.

In spite of these hopes and all the calls for sustainable development during the 90ies the reality has gotten worse: The social wealth is monopolized ever stronger. Unemployment, marginalization, the overstrain of the social security-systems as well as the dissolution of traditional communities lead to extensive social expenses. The loss of solidarity and the market-bearings undermine the premises for social reforms. At the same time it becomes obvious, that we are already within a man made climate change causing more and more disasters all around the world. Far away from reducing our consumption of natural resources to a level that could be sustained, only in some industrialized countries little progress was made to stabilize the growth of pollution and consumption of natural resources. In the industrialized countries we seem to be far away from a new model of integrated economic development, which overcomes the crisis and the growing social polarization in the own country and takes the responsibility for the global environment and social development. In the arena of governance only little progress was made in the development of participative models of management that could meet the needs of the inhabitants in a way that is more sustainable. In spite of peace and democracy the decade after Rio became a decade of new wars, new dictatorship

It seems that the Rio+10 WSSD conference in Johannesburg is not going to look for serious commitments to solve the constraints, but will again confuse the concepts developed in 1992 and the following years. The drafts for the political statements for the conference will only include very little reference to the inhabitants, no reference to the human rights and they will not contain any new orientation.

During WSSD HIC makes 10 calls:

CALL 1: Give sustainable development a real start by assigning a key-role to Habitat! Strengthen the role of inhabitants! – Develop local democracy and civil society!
CALL 2: Orientate development on the realization of Social, Economical and Cultural Human Rights of the inhabitants and the overcome of social exclusion!
CALL 3: Develop globally responsible patterns of housing and settlement! Reduce energy consumption and climate pollution! – Pay back your ecological debt!
CALL 4: Overcome poverty by locally based sustainable development and inclusive cities, towns, and villages for all! Support the social production of habitat! – Up-scale good local practices to Public Policies!
CALL 5: Strengthen public and local capacities to meet the challenges of globalization! Stop the privatization of public goods and services!
CALL 6: Build-up worldwide solidarity against war and foreign occupation! Respect peoples’ rights to live in peace and dignity!
CALL 7: Build healthy human settlements in both urban and rural areas – give access to basic services!
CALL 8: Prevent disasters! – Build safe cities! – Overcome the development of crime!
CALL 9: Develop sustainable and socially balanced land management!
CALL 10: Develop the global frame for local Habitat development!