JOHANNESBURG — “This
is what I have dreamed of for a long time,” said TJ Ngongoma of Abahlali
baseMjondolo. TJ was referring to a pan-African people’s movement of struggling
inhabitants and activists on the continent to transform local politics as we
know it. That movement advanced last Saturday with a regional meeting on the
Right to the City.
GPR2C (The Global Platform for the Right to
the City) is promoting debate about the concept and implementation of the Right
to the City from the perspective of every region. In Johannesburg, South
Africa, on 28 November 2015, GPR2C organized a Regional Meeting in Africa at
University of the Witwatersrand (WITS), at the Dorothy Suskind Auditorium. The
meeting was hosted by Wits University’s Centre for Urbanism and Built
Environment Studies (CUBES).
Around 60 participants joined the GPR2C event,
representing Angola, Benin, Botswana, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Kenya,
Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Tunisia,
Zambia, Zimbabwe, as well as Brazil, Italy France and England. They came from
different fields of work—social movement representatives, academics, human
rights defenders, public authorities, NGOs and others.
Following an introduction by GPR2C Coordinator
Nelson Saule Junior PÓLIS Institute (Brazil), South Africa Deputy Minister of
Human Settlements Mme. Zou Kota-Fredericks addressed the conference, delivering
a message of solidarity and conveying the 8-point vision of African states
toward Habitat III.
Habitat III formed a key organizing opportunity at
the Africa Regional Meeting, with HIC-HLRN’s Joseph Schechla presenting a GPR2C
vision for Habitat III. Barbara Lipietz of University College London’s
Development Planning Unit (DPU) shared the outcome of research on the Habitat
III national reporting process, which revealed consistent gaps in the intended
participatory process and the evaluative content of national reporting on
Habitat II implementation. The DPU’s study also reviewed the national reports
for content to support the Right to the City.
As Schechla explained, “Habitat III poses an
important global organizing and advocacy opportunity for operationalizing human
rights in the urban context; however, the Global Platform’s goals are to build
the movement, generate and exchange knowledge, and to achieve local
Part of that knowledge creation was the purpose of
research carried out by GPR2C constituents in an earlier phase through case
studies from Latin America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East (full text available here).
Lessons learned from the day’s plenary and
break-out group discussion included two consistent messages: (1) the apparent
territorial scope of the Right to the City needs to be more inclusive to be
relevant to Africa and (2) African social movements and their supporters have
well-developed concepts of the Right to the City based on local experience.
The GPR2C event came at a strategic moment, when
local governments and local authorities convened at Johannesburg for the 7th AfriCities Summit 2015, giving participants a
chance also to bring their message into the broader discussions under the
theme: “Shaping the Future of Africa with the People.”
Pat Horn, coordinator of Streetnet International, a
Johannesburg-based entity advocating the rights of workers in the informal
economy, emphasizes the importance of enforcing the Right to the City in
Africa. “We are not yet seeing the practical application of the inclusive urban
policies and participatory processes that African mayors spoke about at the
UCLG Congress at Rabat [Morocco] in October 2013,” she recalled.
Much strategic discussion took place in practical
working sessions that contributed to the plans and outputs of the GPR2C,
research, training/learning communication and advocacy working groups. With the
coordination of PÓLIS Institute and Habitat International Coalition, the GPR2C
Africa region’s participants will form a follow-up committee to finalize the
report of the meeting and begin work on a Africa-wide declaration on the Right
to the City.
Download the program.
For further information, contact:
Global Platform for the Right to The City