High-Level Political Forum: The Right to the City Agenda places human rights at the front for the SDGs and the New Urban Agenda implementation


This programme has focused on drawing attention to the local and global struggles of communities around the world that work every day to defend the right to the city, facilitating the participation of organizations and groups whose voices are often silenced or not heard.

Highlights at the High-Level Political Forum

 The Right to the City Agenda: defending human rights obligations

 Initiatives on the Right to the City

 Linking Local and Global Struggles for the Right to the City



The Right to the City Agenda: Update and defend human rights and the corresponding state obligations


The Agenda 2030 Declaration includes a Sustainable Development goal dedicated to sustainable cities and human settlements, SDG 11: “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”.This commitment, signed by 193 states in 2015, declares the desire to achieve “a world of universal respect for human rights”. Therefore, cities should be the reflection of this world, and it is precisely what the Right to the City defends: common territories, territories of rights, managed by and for all.


The New Urban Agenda (NUA), the roadmap for cities embodies the world’s commitment to sustainable urbanization, signed in 2016 is in line with this. The NUA states that cities and human settlements should be those spaces where “all people can enjoy equal rights and opportunities, as well as their fundamental freedoms, guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, including full respect for international law”. This agenda includes the Right to the City in its paragraphs 11 and 12, sharing the ideal of “a city for all, in terms of equal use and enjoyment of cities and human settlements, seeking to promote integration and ensure that all inhabitants, both of present and future generations, without discrimination of any kind, can create cities and human settlements that are just, safe, healthy, accessible, affordable, resilient and sustainable, and inhabit them […] ideal known as the right to the city”.


The challenge is to “leave no one or no place behind” and for this we must seriously incorporate the Right to the City approach, which connects human rights and allows for better implementation of Agenda 2030 and the New Urban Agenda. This is the message that theGlobal Platform for the Right to the City has brought to the United Nations materialized on a joint declaration:

The Right to the City Agenda(Document available here)

This document advocates the Right to the City as a new and necessary perspective for the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the New Urban Agenda and it was presented and explained during a training event at the HLPF and also at a Training session on the Right to The City on July 13th 2018, in the framework of the the event: Cities and the Global Agenda : on the road to the U20 in Buenos Aires”, at the New School.


As in so many other forums away from social movements and the problems of everyday life, HIC and the Global Platform focused efforts on drawing attention to the local and global struggles of communities around the world that work every day to defend the right to the city. At a stand dedicated to it, the Global Platform for the Right to the City has echoed the denunciations, demands and proposals of the comrades of Abahlali Base Mjondolo and to so many other struggles for the democratization of decision-making spaces, for the preservation and expansion of public spaces, and that no person or social group suffers discrimination.

The Right to the City struggles show that people all over the world want to live in places that put human rights first. The global alliances for exchange and support such as the Global Platform for the Right to the Cityand Habitat International Coalition echo this work, as highlighted in theUN Secretary General latest report for ECOSOCon the progress made in the implementation of the New Urban Agenda, in paragraph 44. This same report also mentions the efforts to “enshrine the Right to the City” and establish coherence and integration between the world’s sustainable agendas (paragraph 10).


Linking local and Global Struggles for the Right to the City


Linking local and global struggles for the right to the City is essential to raise awareness about a global demand from citizens for more participation in decision-making and greater access to the material,political and symbolic benefits that our cities and societies have to offer. For that reason, the Global Platform and allies activities within the HLPF included some meetings with local movements for the right to housing:


– Public hearing: A seat at the table with NYCHA on public housing authority residents’ agenda for change,July 14th 2018 : The session included presentations on the residents’ perspective and vision for public housing, a debate on what will itake to preserve sustain & transform NYC Public Housing as well as linking global and local solutions. International activists showed their support with NYCHA‘s residents in their struggle to save public housing and ensure the Right to Housing in New York.

– Outdoor networking event NYC Right to the City Activists, Public event, July 14th 2018: Local and international activists from South Bronx Unite, Picture the Homeless, International Alliance of Inhabitants, Communities Action for Safe Apartments, Street Vendors Project and the Global Platform for the Right to the City gathered at a conversation on building a global movement for housing as a human right. The conversation was developed around the questions : How do we frame housing as a human right? How do activists think about the local and global in real time, and develop networks of solidarity? What do alternatives look like, and how do we grow them on scale? Speakers included Leilani Farha, the UN Special rapporteur on adequate housing and Lorena Zárate, HIC President.

– Special Session on the Right to Housing and Cities for housing Declaration,Sunday 15th July and 16th July, co-organized by the UCLG Committee on Social Inclusion, Participatory Democracy and Human Rights.

The joint declaration: “Cities for Adequate Housing: Municipalist Declaration for the Right to Housing and the Right to the City” waspresented by Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau during the Special Session“#MaketheShift: Cities for the Right to Adequate Housing”.Mayor Colau recalled that housing must be considered as a right, not a commodity, in order for cities to survive and to fulfill the human rights of its inhabitants. The Declaration is supported by global cities as Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Mexico City, Durban, Lisbon, London, Montreal, Montevideo, New York, Paris, Seoul, as well as for civil society organizations like HIC, the Global Platform and Observatory DESC. For more info on the Declaration please click here.


Initiatives that implement the Right to the City Approach:

This set of initiatives has been presented at the stand dedicated to the Right to the City at United Nations Headquarters during the High-Level Political Forum.



Plan Act Initiative

HIC Human Rights Observatory

Observatory DESC Initiative

Just Food Initiative

Women in Cities Initiative

TECHO Initiative

International Alliance of Inhabitants

WIEGO Initiative

Kota Kita Initiative

Institute Polis Initiative

Mouans Sartoux Initiative

Street Vendor Project

Ministerio Público
Defensa Buenos Aires

Development Workshop Initiative

COCEAVIS initiative

GAATES initiative

CSAC Initiative

Ibdu Initiative

CIDAP Initiative