Habitat International Coalition Demands Rights-based Approach to “Development”


For release: Wednesday, 9 April 2014
Contact:      Álvaro
Puertas 315-788-7418
Pascual 315-276-5784
Bailloux 315-788-6854

On Tuesday, April 8, members of the Habitat International Coalition (HIC)
advanced demands for the Right to Land, Housing and the City in Medellin,
inside and outside World Urban Forum VII (WUF).

The day began with HIC President Lorena Zárate and Board member Benedito
Barbosa’s presentations on a Civil Society Roundtable panel that drew several
hundred WUF delegates at the main convention hall. Zárate and Barbosa challenged the underlying
central theme of WUF VII, which equates economic growth with increased equity. They
applauded popular movements worldwide who oppose the capitalist development
paradigm that has led to mass displacement, forced evictions and human misery,
and who have forged a new vision of habitat that: (1) is a rights-based approach including the Right
to the City and the Social Production of Habitat; (2) does not separate urban
from rural struggles; and (3) attacks the root causes of inequality through participatory
democracy, redistributive justice and social inclusion.

In the afternoon, HIC members from eight countries on four continents marched
in solidarity with more than 1,200 grass roots Colombian activists, in Medellin
for an alternative Social Urban Forum sponsored by numerous Colombian social
movements and the International Alliance of Inhabitants. The march
through Barrio Puerto Nuevo began in a neighborhood threatened by forced
evictions for a controversial highway expansion project and continued on to
Medellin City Hall. The march underscored the gap between popular demands for
the Right to Land, Housing and the City and the prevailing capitalist
development dialogue within the official WUF Forum and in Medellin.

Meanwhile, back at the Forum, several HIC members released a new
publication coordinated by HIC/AITEC activist Charlotte Mathivet (Paris), “Take
Back the Land: The Social Function of Land and Housing: Resistance and Alternatives”. The book presents case studies from across
the globe highlighting struggles similar to the Medellin protest. HIC
representatives Nelson Saule (PÓLIS, Brazil), Joseph Schechla (Egypt), Lorena
Zárate (Mexico), and Pascale Thys (Belgium) were on hand for the release. Schechla also participated on a panel
sponsored by the University of Cardiff exchanging solutions to improve the well
being of informal workers in “cities of change.”

On Wednesday, HIC will participate in a Networking
Event at 2:00 pm in the Yellow Pavillion, Room 7, “Cities for Life and
Territorial Rights: Facing the Challenge
of Human Inequality. HIC will join
co-sponsors from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, CLASCO and ACIUR for the
debate on struggles against dispossession by violence and gentrification. HIC will also participate in a conference on city regional food
systems and sustainable urban development at 8:30 in One UN Room in the White

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 of HIC at WUF, please click here.