Civil society groups are currently discussing their expectations of the Third
United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat
III) at The World Social Forumin
Tunis (March 23rd – 28th 2015). The Habitat III conference will take place next
year in Quito, Ecuador.
These discussions began at Monday’s Annual General Meeting of Habitat
International Coalition (HIC), a global network for the right to habitat and
social justice. HIC has advocated that Habitat III be as inclusive as possible
and that it generates a new “Habitat Agenda” that recognises the rural-urban
continuum within a human rights approach.
DPU research reviews Habitat III national reports
In this meeting, Alexandre
Apsan Frediani and Rafaella Lima from The Bartlett Development Planning Unit
presented outcomes from collaborative research with HIC, which focuses on the
Habitat III national reporting processes.
The research assesses
the production of Habitat III national reports in eight different countries in
terms of civil society participation and the extent to which available draft
reports address the Right to the City. HIC President Lorena Zárate, states that
the findings from this work will inform HIC’s advocacy campaigns and help
generate a comprehensive framework through which civil society groups can hold
to account the actors involved in Habitat III processes.
Wider initiatives on urban futures within the HIC network
This collaborative HIC-DPU project emerged out of a wider set of initiatives
in HIC’s network that were also presented at the Annual General Meeting. The Instituto
Pólis in Brazil presented the Global
Platform for the Right to the City, which aims to generate debates on the
Right to the City to influence national and international agendas such as
Another presentation centered on an approach for City
Region Food Systems to bring together sustainable city development with food
systems, which HIC hopes to mainstream through Habitat III, especially to
address rural-urban linkages.
UrbaMonde presented their engagement around the “social production of
habitat”, a concept that could complement the UN definition of adequate housing,
as it focuses specifically on the mode of production, highlighting the
importance of community-led housing processes.
On the need to build institutional memory
In addition, the HIC Housing
and Land Rights Network talked about the importance of assessing progress
towards Habitat II commitments made in Istanbul in 1996. A discussion ensued on
the importance of building institutional memory among civil society actors, so
that future Habitat Agendas build on the learning generated by previous
A big lesson from Monday’s discussion is that Habitat III is an opportunity
to reflect on the Right to the City and mechanisms to make this right a reality.
This will extend far beyond the 2016 Conference; as one participant stated, “Hay
vida antes y después de Habitat III” – “There is life before and after Habitat