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Communication on the GPR2C European Regional Meeting

April 2nd and 3rd 2016 – University of Barcelona, Spain 

The Global Platform for the Right to the City (GPR2C) European Regional Meeting was held on April 2nd and 3rd 2016 in Barcelona, Spain, gathering 74 participants from 19 different countries – Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Italy, Mexico, Montenegro, Morocco, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tunisia, and United Kingdom. They came from different fields of work – social movement representatives, human rights defenders, non-governmental organizations, academics, public sector, foundations, and international organizations among others. (See list of participants)

This was the second Regional Meeting organized by the GPR2C, being an excellent opportunity to promote dialogue, cooperation and coordination among organizations working on the right to the city in the region by creating a greater value based in the exchange of information, the definition of common objectives and the first steps of a common strategy in the region.

The event was also an opportunity to present the Global Platform for the Right to the City and disseminate its principles, goals and actions, strengthening regional alliances and inviting new organizations to join it. The meeting also fostered discussion on the meaning of the right to the city in the region; ways to promote an exchange experiences on the right to the city as well as debate the Habitat III process and the inclusion of the right to the city in the New Agenda and other regional public policies

In order to debate the right to the city concept in the region and to define an European action plan, a number of working groups discussed the following issues:

1) Democracy, the city and the inhabitants; self-management and autonomous spaces.

2) Funding / privatization of social / public housing and public spaces.

3) The Right to Housing and the Right to the City, public services.

4) Competitive and solidarity cities, social and solidarity economy; informal workers.

5) Forms of expulsion and evictions, repression, refugees and migrants.

6) Food systems of the city-region and urban / rural relations in the heart of the

Right to the City.

One of the lessons learned from these debates is the richness and variety of initiatives existing in the region, which are highly differentiated, according to the social, political, cultural and linguistic diversity of the region. For instance, as explained in the research “Moving toward the Implementation of the Right to the City in Latin America and Internationally“, in Europe we can find three different concepts: “human rights in the city”, “rights of the cities” and the “right to the city”. Participants also agreed on some common points such as the understanding of the right to the city as a new collective right for a new model of city, and the city as a common good. Now the challenge is to create a common vision of this concept and to connect these specific actions with the global struggles for the right to the city.

Many strategies emerged from this meeting, such as the coordination among different struggles against the violations of the right to housing and to the city (gentrification, privatization of public/social housing and public spaces, homelessness, evictions, segregation, etc); promote initiatives of popular laws and social and solidarity economy and awareness and training of public officers, among many others.