Cities for adequate housing

United Cities and Local Governments considers the Right to Housing as a fundamental pillar of human rights and the Right to the City. Indeed, this was a cornerstone of the advocacy strategy led throughout the debates around the New Urban Agenda (Habitat III). Accordingly, UCLG’s Bogotá Commitment and Action Agenda (October 2016) launched a call to “support inclusive housing policies and ensure the full and progressive realization of the right to adequate housing for all”.

Under the initiative of UCLG’s Co-President and Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, and within the framework of the debates that took place both in the Policy Council on the Right to the City and the Committee on Social Inclusion, Participatory Democracy and Human Rights, the World Organization is carrying out different activities that can be seen collectively as a “Wave of Action” on housing. This process takes place within the framework of the “The Shift” campaign, carried out by the UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, Leilani Farha, with the support of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and UCLG.

The Wave of Action on Housing promotes a series of coordinated actions in a period of 18 months, involving different parts of the network and actions on advocacy, learning, monitoring and production of reports. The political document derived both from the meeting “Cities and Regions for the Right to Housing” (Barcelona, 2-3 November 2017) and the inaugural session of the Policy Council of Hangzhou (December 2017), led to the idea of developing a common declaration of local governments. This idea counted with the support of Barcelona, Montevideo, Madrid and the Territory of Plaine Commune.

Drafted by the City of Barcelona, the “Manifesto of Cities against Gentrification” was presented at the second Policy Council on the Right to the City held in Strasbourg’s Executive Bureau (May 2018). The interest raised by this initiative led the Committee on Social Inclusion, Participatory Democracy and Human Rights to propose a special working session on the subject on the occasion of the first, ever held Forum of Local and Regional Authorities in the framework of a UN High Level Political Forum (focused on the monitoring of the SDGs – New York, July 15-18, 2018). The meeting will gather under the title #maketheshift to present "Cities for Adequate Housing - Municipalist Declaration of Local Governments on the Right to Housing and the Right to the City", and counts with the support of Special Rapporteur Farha and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

This session will mainly focus on assessing the next stages of “the Shift” and UCLG’s Wave of Action in the framework of the launch of the former “Manifesto”, now presented as a Declaration of local governments after a process of debate with the members of the Committee on Social Inclusion, Participatory Democracy and Human Rights and other members of UCLG. In a nutshell, the goal in the process is to play a role in shifting the narrative around housing strategies, placing the rights-based approach at the centre of global agendas and brining forward the recommendations established by the New Urban Agenda adopted after Habitat III (2016).

[As the text of the declaration is still a draft version, we propose you to contact the Committee directly for being able to read the last version of it]

#MaketheShift and Declaration of Local Governments: a shared commitment to leave no one behind

The Declaration should be seen also as a concrete input to the #MaketheShift campaign: an initiative of the UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, Leilani Farha, which seeks to promote a “shift” in housing whereas this is seen as a human right and a social good, rather than as a commodity. This campaign represents the main component of UCLG’s advocacy strategy in regard to its Wave of Action on housing.

In line with this commitment, multiple parts of our organization are carrying out interrelated actions that can be seen as a comprehensive “Wave of Action” on housing. This Wave seeks to raise awareness about this key aspect to our entire community of local and regional governments and partners. The aim in the process is to gather new commitments, propose concrete measures to improve access to adequate and affordable housing, as well as contribute to the monitoring and reporting of the SDG 11.1.

The results of the Wave of Action will suppose an important contribution to the GOLD V Report on the Localization of Global Agendas (2019). This report is a key component of UCLG’s work to inform on the implementation of the SDGs and the rest of global agendas from a local perspective. It will equally play a key role in the preparation of the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) in July 2018 and subsequent events.

[Read: UCLG renews its commitment to drive forward “The Shift” to housing as a human rights]

The Right to Housing as a human right is increasingly threatened. Both national and local governments face immense challenges, such as real estate speculation, the growth of informal settlements, the lack of public housing and urban segregation. All these phenomena represent threaten access to safe, adequate and affordable housing for all.

“We are determined to end the privileges and change the regulatory framework; we must ensure the Right to Housing as a key component of the Right to the City." Ada Colau, Mayor of Barcelona and Co-President of UCLG’s Policy Council on the Right to the City.

In the framework of a call for decentralization of competences and resources, the declaration promotes action in five different areas: improving the regulation of the real estate market; more funds to improve public housing stock; more tools to co-produce private-public and community-driven housing; an urban planning that combines the right to housing with the right to the city; as well as strengthened municipalist solidarity in residential strategies through the international networks of local governments to exchange practices and advocate for the right to housing.

In the long term, this Declaration also implies a global call to action: a mobilization of multi-stakeholder, united networks resolved to declare the central role of cities and their representatives to enforce this fundamental right: the right to housing and to the city.

From UCLG and the City of Barcelona we invite local governments around the world to adhere to this Declaration!

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