WUF 5: Launching of the HIC publication “Cities for All: Proposals and Experiences towards the Right to the City”



The book Cities for All: Proposals and Experiences towards the Right to the City, edited by Ana Sugranyes and Charlotte Mathivet, was launched to the public on Tuesday March 23, 2010 during the World Urban Forum as part of the Forum’s “parallel events”. More than 130 participants of different parts of the world attended the book launch and the debate that followed.


Davinder Lamba, HIC President, explained that it important for HIC to publish this book, to disseminate knowledge of the experiences of the right to the city, as well as to continue working on the theoretical creation of the concept. He then introduced the panelists.


The first edition was published in three languages: Spanish, English, and Portuguese. The panelists made presentations during the launch in these three languages, and unfortunately there was no simultaneous translation available, as there normally is in other WUF events.


Charlotte Mathivet, HIC, co-editor, introduced the publication which compiles 30 experiences in 23 countries, including theoretical critiques and proposals for the right to the city. The objective of the book is to expose the diversity of reflection and action in the construction of the right to the city. This collective right is a very powerful tool since it aims to transform the structure of the city and to convert it into a space built by the people and for the people that inhabit it. In order to accomplish this, all the actors involved in the construction of the right to the city must monitor discourses surrounding it, in order to avoid its transformation into a buzz word, without real intentions for change. The World Social Forum – the civil society parallel forum to the WUF – presents a good space to achieve this objective.


Arif Hasan, Urban Resource Centre, Pakistan, wrote an article about the world class city concept in Asia and its negative impacts. According to him, the book demonstrates the numerous contradictions of the right to the city, which illustrates the diversity of experiences and movements for the right to the city. He added that in Asia, the concept is still not developed and that many struggles are still pending.


Mnikelo Ndabankulu, Abhalali baseMjondolo, South Africa, is part of an important movement of settlers from the informal settlements in Durban that fights against evictions and for increased power from these settlements. Richard Pithouse, a professor who works very closely with the AbM movement, wrote an article about their struggles for the book. Mnikelo recounted AbM’s resistance against the Slums Act, a shack eradication policy. AbM arose as an autonomous settler movement that fights for its independence and empowerment.


Nelson Saule, Instituto Polis, Brazil, explained the history of the fight for urban reform and for the right to the city in Brazil. He stated that FNRU has been carrying out these struggles for two decades, achieving results such as the City Statute. He recognized the WUF dedicated to the right to the city as a great progress, but also said that the debate should be closely monitored so as to ensure that the original intention of this collective right is not transformed.


Mobola Fajemirokun, Development Initiatives Network, Nigeria, contributed to the publication with two articles: a reflection about the right to the city in the Anglophone Africa region and another studying the particular case of Nigeria. She recognizes the right to the city as a very powerful tool in the region; nevertheless warned that it cannot be allowed to turn into a single series of rules and legal norms.


After the presentations, the floor was opened up to actors involved in the struggle for the right to the city, starting with Rosemary Irusta, a community leader in Bolivia and author of an article in the book that illustrates the role of women in the collective construction of this right. Yacoub Odeh and Sharihan Hannoun, both from Palestine, denounced the destructions and occupation of Palestinian homes by Israeli colonists, as well as the general occupation of the Palestinian territory.


The HIC-GS team thanks the participation of the audience during the book launch, as well as the collaboration of the authors and the voluntary translation of the book into Portuguese.

To download the book in PDF, click here.