*Article originally published on Ripess webpage.

Today, 31 October, Right to the City Day, marks the end of the month of ‘Urban October’ for which RIPESS, WIEGO, Urgenci and Streetnet have collaborated closely with the Global Platform for the Right to the City (GPR2C). During this month, a social network campaign has been developed to disseminate the collaborative work called ‘The Best Urban Economies are Diverse and Inclusive – a component of the Right to the City’.

This publication, already in English, Spanish and Portuguese, had its culminating day on 26 October, when it was presented in an online event in which all the entities that make up this platform participated with different representatives of their organisations around the world. An enriching and far-reaching space for collective reflection was created, which will continue in the future and whose basis will be this publication. Watch the webinar here.

This important month for the dissemination of our advocacy has been based on three key events this year:

  • Right to the City Day, 31 October.
  • The adoption in April of the UN resolution for the Social Solidarity Economy (A/RES/77/281).
  • And another resolution establishing the first World Day of Care and Support on 29 October.

According to Sophia Torres, from the GPR2C platform, these are growing acknowledgements from the international community towards a new vision of the economy which prioritise the need for alternatives to the current economic model.

According to Simel Esim, secretary of ILO Cooperatives unit, who also spoke at the event, all the examples and elements in the publication on diverse and inclusive economies are an intersection between the informal economy, the care economy and the solidarity economy. A source of work as broad as the number of entities that we will be able to work together for the future of this platform and the paradigm shift that we are pursuing.

The right to the city is no longer just about cities. It is seen more broadly as linked to the right to territory: rural and urban. It is a collective right that emphasises territorial integrity and the interdependence of all internationally recognised civil, political, economic, social, cultural and environmental rights, as regulated in international human rights treaties, bringing to them territorial dimensions and an approach to adequate living standards.

This was stated by Josephine Parrilla, representative of ASEC (Asian Solidarity Economy Council), the Asian network of RIPESS and leader of informal workers in the Philippines, President of PATAMABA WISE (Informal Sector Workers’ Enterprise) and President of Homenet International.

The presented publication is the continuation of a series of publications that unify a number of concepts with diverse meanings, some of which have had their own publications by the Global Platform for the Right to the City (GPR2C). Let’s look at that idea of a diverse and inclusive economy:

There are three pillars:

  • The Social Solidarity Economy
  • The care economy
  • The informal economy

All of them present an alternative and a change to the current capitalist system. Economic activity in the context of accumulation and plundering is disengaged by focusing on the collective interest of communities and care for the planet; not on individual interest. It is about securing decent work and good conditions for all people and the earth.

Interconnections between:

  • Non-discrimination
  • Basic needs met
  • Urban-rural linkages.
  • Promotion of social justice
  • Collective interest

With this publication, this webinar and, in general, our work, we seek to reflect on the lack of social rights and social protection, the recognition and visibility of alternative economic activities; the dissemination of good practices and global exchanges; awareness-raising from a political point of view and the intention to set up different instruments to provide support to diverse economies: provision of resources, public spaces, access to resources, public tenders, etc.

After the intervention of Sophia Torres from GPR2C, Josephine Parilla, from ASEC/RIPESS and HomeNet, in addition to highlighting the current meaning of the right to the city and its interconnections with issues that we work on both in RIPESS and in the invited organisations, brought the good practices that are carried out in Quenzon City, Philippines, where the community of which she is part creates initiatives, together with the municipality, of self-employment, fashion design and community agriculture. Her presentation, entitled URBAN GARDEN AND COMMUNITY KITCHEN: Towards building a community model of social and solidarity economy (SSE) can be downloaded here (ENG).

Bamidele Frances Onopke, from FIWON and StreetNet claimed ‘Nothing for us without us‘. She highlighted and brought to debate the Nigerian informal market perspective. It uses diverse and inclusive economies taking into account the lack of spaces for informal workers and street vendors as well as their lack of legislation and social protection. She put forward as a possible alternative and solution the mutual societies and cooperatives that already exist in her community, which are part of the SSE and have a feminist and care approach that can include informal workers.

For her part, Isa Álvarez, from URGENCI, provided a theoretical focus on the ecofeminist perspective. With the image of an iceberg, she illustrated how the invisible part of the economy connects the environment, a healthy ecosystem, care and communities. She also contrasted concepts such as community-supported food and agriculture, markets versus ‘the market’, territory and urban vs. rural or centre vs. periphery. Finally she brought some untranslatable concepts: The VIDABILITY (life-ability?) of our economy, community and ways of living, of the connections we develop: Life-able, liveable and visible.

In the discussion that followed, Simel Esim, from the Cooperatives Unit of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and a very active part of the UNTFSSE shared the work of the ILO on the intersections between the values that the publication presented and commented addressing the paper of the Cooperative Care Provision as a Gender-Transformative Decent Work Solution (ilo.org). She also did not forget to refer to the Resolution accepted by the UN: she called it a ‘call to member states, UN agencies, financial allies’ but also an ‘opportunity for grassroots and informal organisations to use this resolution to their political advantage’.

Referring to the examples given by previous participants, she pointed to the way in which these community-based organisations build resilience and create cohesion and harmony in times and contexts of crisis and conflict. This is more than necessary in the dark days we live in.

In relation to these community organisations, La Negra Albornoz, representative of La Poderosa, a social movement born 20 years ago in Argentina that unites assemblies of impoverished, but not poor, women. They are responsible for putting together 40,000 community meals a day in 5,800 neighbourhoods throughout the country, supporting the networks of life and neighbourhoods that make up the grassroots care economy.  Under the phrase ‘we cannot be the volunteers of our own hunger’ they drafted a law that was taken to congress and is now in process so that community cooks have both an economic retribution (minimum living and mobile salary that could allow them to be housed) and all labour rights, that is, social protection. Solidarity counts, but this is an invisible work that would make it possible to break the circles of violence that many of these women cannot get out of due to lack of work and economic independence. It is the popular economy that sustains the number of families in all these neighbourhoods, making the work of women, women in the community, invisible.

Hernando Sáenz, professor of urban planning and economics at the University of Bogotá, then brought the results of his project on the mobility of care. When we talk about caregivers and cared-for people, it is necessary to differentiate the types of population: are they with children, adult/elderly population who demand other types of care and mobility. There are many areas with many children. The concept of ‘care apples’ was created and developed by presenting it here (SPA).

To conclude, Ainara Gómez from UCLG Research shared the Repository ‘Towards territorial and urban equality’ that they developed by redefining the economy and finance to guarantee the Social Solidarity Economy. Understanding that the current financial system forces us to move away from the paradigm and a redefinition of the economy is needed. We meet with allies like the GPR2C, where innovative and community-led pathways are innovating new ways to transform our economies.

In conclusion, and what all the speakers agreed on, there is a need for solidarity values and alliances to work in coalition in the various sectors in which we participate in order to make these realities wider and better known by the societies around the globe.

Watch the webinar “The best urban economies are diverse and inclusive: a Right to the City component” here.

*Article originally published on Ripess webpage.