This Urban October the Global Platform for the Right to the City is launching a campaign to pressure authorities to act on long-term structural transformations and commit to protecting the social function of the city.
We demand cities understood as commons that fulfill their Social Function and the Right To The City at the service of the whole community, ensuring social protection and quality of life for all.
In the current context of Global Crises, accentuated by the Pandemic, we have seen initiatives emerge in all spheres, from national governments, and particularly local governments, to grassroots-led groups.
Many of these measures aim to fulfil the social function of the city. This means ensuring equitable and affordable access for all to housing, goods, services and urban opportunities, particularly for women, marginalized groups and people with special needs.
“The social function of something is its use or application to the benefit of the greater society, in particular, prioritizing those with the greatest need. Thus, the social function of a property, good, resource or service is realized when it is applied to satisfy a general social need or the unmet need of a segment of society” (HICtionary, HIC/HLRN, 2018).
“The social function of the city means that we all collectively have the right to demand that public and private property be occupied and used for a social purpose, so that it serves the collective interest. The city is a collective construction, it is for everyone, therefore it is essential that we build cities that allow urban experiences and access to property in an equal manner” (Forum Nacional de Reforma Urbana, 2016).
“We are social movements, civil society and local governments’ organizations committed to social change through the promotion, defense and fulfillment of the right to the city for all. We jointly call and are committed to resist the ongoing global crises evidenced by the pandemic through alternative policies based on the right to the city.
The city cannot be for profit and speculation. The city is our shared material, symbolic and political space and community. Our agenda calls for prioritizing dignity, care and the effective democratization of the decisions concerning the present and the future of cities.”
In this sense, we demand all spheres of governments and the international community to commit to protecting the social function of the city by:
1) Ensuring the right to adequate housing for all
2) Recovering and strengthening community public services
3) Protecting and developing diverse and safe public spaces in every neighbourhood.
4) Fostering economies that are designed for the sustainability of life
5) Strengthening horizontal and democratic collaboration between actors and institutions
6) Ensuring that all inhabitants are able to fully enjoy the city and its opportunities
Public policies putting people at the center
During the Pandemic, different types of public social policies have been implemented in order to give urgent responses to the crisis and try to help the inhabitants to get through these moments in the best possible way.
Here you will find a number of measures (✔) that we consider are responding to the fulfilling of the Social Function of the City within the Right to the City perspective.
We have also pointed out some warnings and concerns (⚠️ ✘) about possible risks and omissions.
Finally, we give some suggestions (💡) on how to go further with these different measures and actions.
Initiatives from our members and allies
All over the world government institutions, civil society, grassroots organizations, academia and the private sector are implementing measures, which address key points in the fight against COVID19 for the Right to the City and the social function of the city.
Here we highlight some of our member’s initiatives that are representative of the fight for Cities to fulfill their social function and the Right to the City.
Throughout Urban October our members and allies, around the world, are carrying out various activities: events, public awards, campaigns and webinars.
Don’t miss any of these events, discover them here
Urban October is a month of exciting meetings, discussions and events focusing the world’s attention on urban issues and sustainable development.
Individuals, organizations, cities, communities and governments at every level are encouraged to take part in activities that highlight the challenges and solutions relating to cities, towns and communities.
The month starts with World Habitat Day and ends with the World Day for the Right to the City.
The United Nations designated the first Monday of October, this year it will be on October 5, as the annual World Habitat Day (WHD). This day highlights the state of our towns and cities, as well as the basic right of adequate shelter for all.
WHD also reminds us we all have the power and the responsibility to shape the future of our cities, towns, and communities.
This year’s theme is Housing For All: A Better Urban Future.
The global observance will be hosted by the city of Surabaya, in Indonesia
On October 31st, we celebrate the World Day for the Right to the City, reinterpreting the United Nations designation of World Cities Day.
We understand the Right to the City as: the right of all inhabitants, present and future, permanent and temporary, to inhabit, use, occupy, produce, transform, govern and enjoy cities, towns and human settlements that are just, inclusive, safe, sustainable and democratic, defined as common goods for enjoying life with dignity and peace.