Coalition Challenges WUF Approach to Growth and Equity, Demands Rights, Democracy and Justice Instead

For release: Tuesday,
April 8, 2014
Contact:       Álvaro Puertas 315-788-7418
                    Isabel Pascual
                    Marie Balloux 315-778-6854

At the General Assembly
of the Habitat International Coalition (HIC) on Monday, 76 delegates from
housing and land rights organizations in more than 20 countries issued
joint declaration challenging the central theme of WUF VII,
which equates
economic growth with increased equity. The
statement (attached) was prepared jointly by HIC, the Commitee on Social Inclusion, Participatory Democracy and Human Rights of UCLG, the Forum of Peripheral Local Authorities and
Mercociudades, representing local governments worldwide.

“We do not share UN Habitat’s view that the greater
the growth, the greater the equity
for billions of impoverished people worldwide,”
commented Lorena Zárate, President of HIC.
“Instead, urban inequality reflects the systematic denial of the basic
human rights of housing, land and the city caused by destructive market forces
and speculative investment in both rural and urban areas.” The statement calls for the full realization
of habitat rights, along with participatory democracy, redistributive justice
and social inclusion.

The declaration also
calls on UN Habitat to ensure effective representation of civil society and
local authorities in the preparation and organization of the Habitat III
Conference in 2016. The groups also
urged recognition of the Right to the City in the new Habitat agenda.

On Tuesday, April 8, Ms. Zarate will present the
declaration at the WUF Civil Society Roundtable between 8:30 and 11:30 am
(Grand Salon, Rooms 1 & 2).
than 50 HIC members will also carry this message in a demonstration
sponsored by civil society organizations, beginning at 2:00 pm at the Barrio
Puerto Nuevo in Medellin.

From 4:00 to 5:00 pm Tuesday at the Urban Library
at WUF, several HIC members will release a new publication, “Take Back the
Land: The Social Function of Land and
Housing: Resistance and Alternatives”
with a similar message.
Raquel Rolnik, UN
Special Rapporteur for the Right to Adequate Housing, will join HIC
representatives Nelson Saule (Polis, Brazil), Sylvia Emanuelli (Mexico), Joseph
Schechla (Cairo), Lorena Zárate (Mexico), Pascale Thys (Belgium) and Charlotte
Mathivet (HIC-AITEC, Paris), who coordinated the project.

On Monday night, legendary former HIC President Enrique Ortiz presented
HIC’s perspective on the Right to the City at a forum sponsored by the
Universidad Nacional de Colombia “under the light of the night.” HIC representative Emily Matthiesen called
for a balanced approach incorporating rural inhabitants’ rights in future
strategies for sustainable urban development at a WUF panel earlier in the day.

Founded in 1976, HIC is the leading global network of more than 350 civil
society organizations worldwide fighting for the right to housing, land and the
city. For details
on HIC activities at WUF, click here.

* To download the joint declaration, please click here.