Since 2020, the Global Platform for the Right to the City (GPR2C) has embarked on a collective learning process together with all its members and allies for the elaboration of a series of thematic papers to explore and deepen into the key conceptual and programmatic contents related to the Right to the City. These documents are intended to strengthen the advocacy, training, networking, and communication work of the GPR2C.

On this occasion, we are publishing the Thematic Paper: Cities and Human Settlements with Quality Public Spaces. This paper explores the complexity of public space across different dimensions: urban, cultural, artistic and performative, political, environmental, and virtual. Public space is not simply a well-designed physical space for public enjoyment; it is primarily a way of re-thinking cities and human settlements so that they can powerfully contribute to the effective implementation of the main pillars of the right to the city.

This paper will present, from a global perspective, the contemporary complexities and challenges associated with the difficulties of implementation of proper public space strategies, while also discussing how to define public space as a priority for sustainable urban development, establishing new models of governance, and renewing people-oriented thinking and methodologies. As stated by the Barcelona declaration on public space, the right to the city is “a new paradigm that provides an alternative framework to re-think cities and urbanisation” (Habitat III 2016, 1).

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