Urban Social Forum Hosts Asia Regional Meeting on the Right to the City
The day after the 3rd Urban Social Forum Kota Kita and the International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development (INFID) hosted the Asia Regional meeting of the Global Right to the City Platform (GPR2C) in Surabaya. The objective of the meeting was to discuss how civil society organizations from throughout Indonesia and Asia could collaborate to promote a new agenda for urban reform in the region. The meeting was well attended by over 50 participants: social leaders, academics, NGO activists, and even government officials, from Indonesia, Brazil, USA, Cambodia, Singapore, India, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The GPR2C is an international advocacy movement that puts forward the Right to the City – a universal set of rights for all urban dwellers, similar to a set of human rights for people who live in cities. The Global Platform is a civil society coalition made up of a number of leading urban-sector NGOs from all over the world, including the International Alliance of Inhabitants (IAI), Habitat International Coalition (HIC), Polis Institute from Brazil, ActionAid, Slum/ Shack Dwellers International (SDI), and the Ford Foundation.
The Right to the City Movement first began in Brazil in the 1990s and then spread to other countries and regions. At that time a diverse collection of social actors in Brazil, including social movements, NGOs, academics and Mayors, worked together to successfully push their national government to create legislation recognizing the importance of all citizens to access common resources and participate in urban processes. Broad based and active campaigns, such as that, push the public and governments to adopt new attitudes towards the city. They have the potential to significantly impact how our cities grow and develop – helping to pave the way for more sustainable, democratic and equitable policies.
These initiatives are particularly needed in Indonesia and throughout Asian cities where rapid urbanization has created soaring numbers of vulnerable urban residents, marginalized from decision-making processes, and often lacking adequate housing and public services. To combat these conditions efforts need to be directed towards critically rethinking urban policies, regulating land markets, and promoting ways for citizens to actively participate in shaping their communities.
During the Asia Regional Meeting international activists and Indonesian civil society leaders exchanged ideas and knowledge about how to promote the principles of social justice, equity and sustainability in their cities. It was agreed that further collaboration will continue throughout 2016 with efforts will focus on the PrepCom 3 meeting, to be held also in Surabaya, in July. This is an international event where national governments, international development institutions, and NGOs will discuss setting an agenda for improving cities throughout the world during the global summit Habitat III (October 2016).
The Regional Meeting was an important step towards not only bringing diverse social actors together, but also to forging a common vision and strategy about how to do so. Kota Kita will be actively collaborating with INFID, UNTAG and other NGOs to help prepare for the PrepCom 3 meeting and in doing so continuing efforts to build awareness and promote collaboration between Indonesia, and Asian, urban-sector civil society. We must work together for a better, more equitable, and just urban future!