The need for resistance and alternatives against the neo-liberal plundering of our habitat
In the field of housing and habitat the amount of people without access to adequate housing and decent habitat reaches at least more than 1,6 billion and will grow rapidly within the coming years. All elements of the right to adequate shelter are affected: security of tenure; durability of construction; adequate size; access to drinking water sanitation and garbage collection systems; access to health services, education and other social infrastructure; access to transport, energy, communication and other services; access to income and labor. 1,2 billion people do not have access to drinkable water and 2,4 billion do not have suitable sanitary services.
Already existent inequalities within and between the social spaces get deepened and hardened, while at the same time new looser and winner regions appear at the world market and the social divide in the world deepens and the number of people living in poverty and exclusion increases every day. The prevalence of the global market, which is controlled by concentrated economic powers, excludes those who are already poor, impoverishes others – including peasants, workers, small entrepreneurs, students, fishermen – who had some better living conditions before, impoverishes states, cities, districts and whole countries. The speculative invasion of the world”s economies by large scale private financial investors, multinational corporations, supporting policies and local agents does hardly add values for use, but plunders our public services, common goods, social and natural resources and through this process undermines the chances to turn the development path in this world to equity, social rights and sustainability.
Besides marginal local improvements for a few, no betterment will be possible without stopping this crucial process of deteriorating the fundaments of humanity and responsibility towards the earth. Any development which is orientated on human rights must be based on democracy, solidarity and equality, and therefore must increase the capacities of democratic public institutions and collective actors to manage the territories in a participative way, must enforce social control and regulation on land, housing, habitat and common goods and needed services, must direct economies on the path to sustainability and social improvements and must enable markets to serve the social right and human goals instead of making societies, states and humans slaves of the oligarchic markets
The increasing land speculation, the measures of austerity imposed by the IMF and the reform of the public sector (decentralization and privatization) among others, affect the availability of basic services for the great majority. The privatization of water is a clear example since there is no sense in “adequate housing” if there is no access to water. The supposed advantages of the privatization system (reduction of the costs, greater efficiency according to the competitive principles of the market) restrict even more the access to water and multiply the profits of the large companies.
Privatization often leads to diminishment of control and responsibilities at the local level. Under given conditions it often seems impossible to revert privatization after they had been decided by the authorities. A service or good after its sale will be lost for public control for a long time, unless much public money will be spent to buy it back or large social movements and political changes implement socializations. Even for that reason it is of great importance to resist privatization plans at all levels, change the public opinion and convince decision makers to behave responsible, empower people, civil society and trade unions to build effective alliances for social protest mobilization and political alternatives, build translocal and transnational coalitions and corporations of the resistance struggles, organize international corporate and anti-privatization campaigns, loudly raise the voice at international events and organize global protests against the leading world powers and their summits, where they try to implement more and more elements of their neo-liberal agenda on plundering our common heritage.
To support this process it is indispensable to reinforce the mechanisms of participative monitoring on the habitat effects of privatization and globalization as well as of the measurements and behavior of private corporations and investors. It also is indispensable to seek for alternatives at all levels from local to global by intensifying, strengthening and enlarging the global debate and cooperation between social society actors, social movements, trade unions and social political powers through instruments like the social forums.
Witten Tenants Association