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The Right to the City in the New Urban Agenda


UCLG Committee on Social Inclusion, Participatory Democracy and Human Rights claims for the inclusion of the Right to the City in the New Urban Agenda

The right to the city, a transformative approach for the urban world

In 2050, 70% of the world’s population will be living in cities. In the next 30 years, more than 2 billion people will be settled in urban areas, especially in the world's greatest metropolis. In a world where 1% of the population owns 50% of the world’s wealth, urban areas would concentrate unsustainable inequalities.

This reality raises a number of questions that will be determinant for the future of the majority of the planet: How to build cities for all, without banishing millions of the world’s poorest people to the social and spatial margins? How to make cities places where people live well, with a better quality of life and where there are opportunities for all inhabitants? What are the measures which allow local governments to assume their responsibilities in the implementation of the rights to education, health, an enjoyable environment, employment, participation, culture, or even to security? How to ensure access to public services and improve urban mobility? How to promote intercultural and intergenerational cities without discrimination within which each and all inhabitants find their place?

Local governments members of the Committee on Social Inclusion, Participatory Democracy and Human Rights of UCLG are mobilized since 2004 to promote inclusive, democratic and sustainable cities, where the rights of all are guaranteed. Today, aware of the new phase of global urbanization, such governments want to propose the Right to the City as a possible and concrete alternative, with a focus on collective well-being, rather than an urban development model focused exclusively on economic growth.

Guidelines of the Right to the City

The Right to the City is a collective right of each and every inhabitant, where the territory of the cities and their surroundings (in an equitable relationship with the rural world) are considered areas of exercise and guarantee of rights, in order to ensure equitable, universal, just, democratic and sustainable distribution and benefit of the resources, wealth, services, assets and opportunities offered by cities.

Thus, the right to the city supposes:

  • Cities where the full exercise of human rights for all habitants is ensured
  • Democratic, transparent and participatory cities, based on citizen empowerment
  • Cities as common property of all habitants, where human rights take precedence over the process of privatization and speculation, which conducts to the exclusion of the majority. Also, where degraded historical centers and degraded neighborhoods are regenerated, but avoiding gentrification
  • Sustainable cities, maintaining a balanced and respectful relationship with the countryside around them and with their natural resources
  • Cities where the economy looks after the welfare of its people, based on an endogenous and sustainable local economic development, which draws on local resources and not seek primarily the investments of international capital
  • Multi-cultural and welcoming cities, who value the richness of migration
  • Cities where public space belongs to all inhabitants, and where the importance of these spaces for the freedom of expression and for multiple uses of the city is recognized
  • Cities where cultural rights are guaranteed for social inclusion.

For more information about the Right to the City and its principles, please read the Charter of Mexico for the Right to the City and the Global Charter-Agenda for Human Rights in the City.