From the ecological transition to the right to the city: Committee’s activities during the COP21

December 4th
and 10thUCLG Committee on Social Inclusion, Participatory Democracy and Human Rights
was in Paris, on the occasion of 
UCLG World Council and COP21. During this week, the Committee organized
sessions on ecological transition as a fundamental element to ensure the right
to the city. Throughout these activities and meetings with local governments
and social movements within the framework of the Global Platform for the Right
to the City, the Committee strengthened messages and alliances for fair,
democratic and sustainable territories in the upcoming World Habitat Agenda.

An important open session of UCLG World
Council in Saint-Denis to articulate climate and social justice in territories

Within the framework of UCLG
World Council, and on Plaine Commune (Committee
on Social Inclusion, Participatory Democracy and Human Rights’ co-president)
initiative, more than 200 people met at Stade de France (Saint-Denis) on 5th December morning for the “From COP21 to Habitat III: local governments and citizens at
the heart of the challenges
” debate.
This session was attended by mayors and local and regional officials from all
over the world –including Ada Colau (Mayor of Barcelona), Manuela Carmena
(Mayor of Madrid), Pam McConnell (Toronto Deputy Mayor for Social Equity),
Fatimetou Mint Abdel Malick (Mayor of Tevragh-Zeina), Jan van Zanen (Mayor of
Utrecht), Abdoulaye Thimbo (Mayor of Pikine), Marcelo Cabrera Palacios (Mayor
of Cuenca) and Gustavo Petro (Mayor of Bogotá)–, as well as civil society
leaders, such as Dimitrios Roussopoulos (Montreal Urban Ecology Centre), Jordi Borja (Barcelona Observatory of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights),
Gustave Massiah (AITEC, World Social Forum), Lorena Zarate (Habitat International Coalition [C1]) and Augusto Barrera
(Latin-American School of Social Sciences –FLACSO).

All participants agreed to say
climate justice without social justice makes no sense, and that we need to
re-think the way we are building and developing territories in order to achieve
a fully ecological, democratic and social sustainability. Attendees shared on
equal footing their views on ecological transition, specially related to local
agendas’ priorities –highlighting the need to work for social inclusion,
sustainable and endogenous economic development, access to rights… Mayors and
civil society’s common proposals were enriched by researchers’ contributions.
All of them will be soon compiled in order to feed proposals to Habitat III
summit (Quito, October 2016).

The Committee, along with Habitat
International Coalition, brought the Right to the City to the People’s Climate

On the same 5th December afternoon, the Committee organized a public debate on “Ecological transition and the Right to the City”, along with Habitat International Coalition (HIC). This initiative was
held within the framework of the People’s Climate Summit organized in Montreuil (metropolis of Paris) by civil society (Coalition Climat 21) in parallel to COP21.

More than 150 people attended
this debate between civil society and local governments, all different sectors
being represented through Lorena Zarate (HIC), Sylvie Ducatteau (Plaine
Commune), Bachir Kanouté (ENDA-ECOPOP), Dimitrios
Roussopoulos (Montreal Urban Ecology Centre), Amaranta Herrero (environmental
sociologist), Jordi Borja (Observatory of Social, Economic and Cultural
Rights), Eva Herrero (Barcelona Commissioner for Ecology), Gustavo Petro (Mayor
of Bogotá) and Jean-Baptiste Eyraud (Right to the City –DAL), with Gustave Massiah as a moderator. The
open format of this session enabled to raise the challenges we are facing in a
mostly urban world regarding the huge contribution of urban areas in the
greenhouse gases emissions, and insisted on the need to re-think the current
urban development pattern in order to mitigate climate change and to build
inclusive, democratic, fair and sustainable cities. This debate also
contributed to strengthen articulations between urban and ecologists movements,
and between local governments and social movements.

The Committee attends COP21 Official
Area to contribute to the debate on ecological transition and social and urban

On December 8th, in
the COP21 official area for negotiations, Seine-Saint-Denis Departmental
Council (Committee’s co-president and the territory where COP was held) and the
Committee gathered local governments and civil society members again in a
roundtable on “Ecological Transition in popular peripheries: a priority to
reduce social inequalities
”. Through
their contributions, Stéphane Troussel (President of the Seine-Saint-Denis
Departmental Council), J. Enrique Rojas (Bogotá Secretary for Social
Inclusion), Abdoulaye Thimbo (Mayor of Pikine, periphery of Dakar), Lorena
Zarate (HIC) and Emilia Saiz (CGLU) agreed that local governments, and
especially those from popular peripheries, have been systematically forgotten
in climate main negotiations –whereas they are laboratories of solutions for
the ecological transition. Again, in this debate strong links between
ecological transition and social justice were built. Indeed, ecological
transition may be a tool for equality in poor metropolitan territories. This
debate contributed to strengthen the mobilization of peripheries for
polycentric, solidary and sustainable metropolis in views of Habitat III

Time for alliances with civil society
to promote the right to the city

On December 10th,
Magali Fricaudet (CISDPDH), Lorena Zarate (HIC) and Gino Van Begin (ICLEI Secretary General), participated in the discussion organized by Fondation pour le Progrès de
: “From COP21
to Habitat III: Cities and Citizens Networks engaged with Global Challenges
”. In this meeting with American and European foundations, it has been
raised world’s main challenges and their urban implications (climate change and
social inequalities). Cities and citizens networks have asked foundation to
work together in order to build fair, solidary and sustainable cities,
especially in views of Habitat III summit.

Finally, on December 9th,
aregional meeting of the Global
Platform of the Right to the City
took place in Paris, with representatives from DAL
movement (Right to Housing), No Vox, Plaine Commune, Barcelona Observatory
of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and Montreal Institute for Alternative
Policies (IPAM)
WIEGO among others. In this context, political advocacy and networking
activities carried out by the Platform were presented. Also, the main
challenges in the short and medium term were identified: cities
commodification, cuts on public spending, increasing evictions… Proposals
towards a common action plan were raised, including a European regional
coordination meeting of the Platform, which may take place in Barcelona on
March 2016

Towards local common actions

This intensive agenda enabled to
consolidate the global movement for the Right to the City and to reinforce the
network that works for its concrete implementation, as a global and necessary
approach for fair, democratic and sustainable territories. In addition, all
these activities enabled to confirm that, although the States were not able to
adopt binding measures to fulfill climate challenges, it does exist a local
governments’ movement that, along with civil society, are determined to act for
climate and social justice, and whose local action makes sense and shares
dynamic at global level.

All of this build expectations of
development for the global movement for the right to the city, both within the
municipalist global movement and in terms of alliance with civil society

As Gustave Massiah stated at the
end of Montreuil debate, “today, alternatives are emerging from territories
thanks to local governments and civil society alliances. Only such alliances
may be strong enough to transform economic actors and to reconvert States”.
This is, then, the road we will follow as a committee in 2016 to achieve
authentically fair, sustainable and democratic territories.

– Reports on Saint-Denis and Montreuil
sessions will be available during next weeks.

Here you can find the photos from the
Committee’s activities in Paris.