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The Treaties - 46 - Treaty on Urbanization


Preamble

1. The end of World War II brought about a model of development focussed on economic growth, capital accumulation and profit; this has now been consolidated. The wellbeing of humanity has been cast in a minor role and unlimited greed has led to the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few and widespread poverty for many. To achieve increasing growth, corporations and governments are using up the planet's resources and destroying the environment and have polarized citizens and countries into rich and poor categories.

2. Economic growth based on industrial expansion and consumption has displaced rural populations from their land and intensified urbanization, creating worldwide growth of megacities accompanied by critical problems of impoverishment and environmental degradation.

3. Cities are the centers of political and economic processes and for the accumulation of capital organized globally. They are the command centers of vast networks, integrating the rural and the urban. This emphasizes the existence of close interlinkages between rural, urban and environmental issues.

4. Millions of people live in urban centers faced with critical problems of water and air pollution, with no resources to meet their basic needs for food, housing, water, sanitation, drainage, waste disposal and public transport. This jeopardizes their health, including reproductive health, and overburdens women who have the main responsibility for managing everyday life within the family and the community.

5. Impoverishment and environmental degradation are becoming more acute as a consequence of neo-liberal policies practiced by multilateral financial institutions and governments, which are withdrawing from their obligation to invest in infrastructure and social policies. This is a denial of the full rights to citizenship which has no precedent in modern history. The result is that women are forced to assume increased burdens in their roles in the production of habitat and in popular organizations.

6. The production of urban space, civic facilities and services is being done through the privatization of the public sector, thus submitting it to the interests of monopolies and big capital, without any consideration being given to the citizens' interests in the betterment of their quality of life.

7. Under the dictate of the free market, the provisions of services such as health, education and housing promote exclusion of impoverished people who have no access to them both in the North and the South. The result is increasing numbers of homeless people - most notably children and adolescents - slums and tenements; unserviced urban areas, precarious public transport, unsafe drinking water and inadequate sanitation and waste disposal. This all leads to the destruction of people's identity, cultural values and family structures, and to increasing numbers of households headed by women.

8. This reality also manifests itself in urban violence, murder and oppression of countless children, women and homeless people, not to mention the leaders of social movements who struggle for democracy and improvement in the standards of living.

9. Regulatory action by government is necessary for ensuring social justice. The state must initiate public policies that reverse the priorities of the neo-liberal vision, and that address the needs of the poorest sectors that are being impoverished by structural adjustment programs.

10. We need to create a new sustainable development model, with an objective of humanity's well-being in harmony with nature, based on participatory democracy and social justice for today and future generations without any gender, economic, social, political or religious discrimination.

11. We note the active participation of civil society, especially the social movements, popular associations and organizations which introduce new actors who play a crucial role towards building new models, who need to be recognized by governments and international institutes as legitimate spokespersons of the people, in the spirit of democratic participation.

12. To face the present situation, radical changes are needed in existing and future conditions of life of the majority of the population which is only possible with effective implementation of agrarian reforms, urban reform, reforms of the state. Equally, restructuring is necessary for the institutions which are part of the United Nations (UN) system: the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the Habitat Center. The way has to be opened for reduced dependency of sovereign nations on centers of power and for changes in the social and economic policies of governments of the North toward the people and governments of the South.

13. There is a need for an urban transformation based on increasing the participation of citizens in policy and decision-making at local, national and international level, so that political and cultural values can be changed.

Basic Principles

14. The right to citizenship - understood as the participation of inhabitants of cities, towns and villages in deciding their own future. It includes their right to land and a means of livelihood. It includes their right to housing, sanitation, health, education, food, job opportunities, public transport, leisure and information. It includes their right to freedom of organization and the respect of diversity in terms of minorities, ethnic, sexual, cultural plurality, preservation of citizens' cultural and historical heritage and their access to a culturally rich and diversified environment, with no distinctions of gender, nationality, race, language or creed.

15. Democratic management at the local level - understood as a form of planning, producing, operating and governing cities, towns and villages submitted to the control and participation of civil societies primarily enhancing popular participation and strengthening local self government and autonomy.

16. The social function of the city and property - understood as ensuring that common interests prevail over individual rights to property and there is a social possibilities for citizens to appropriate their territory, to take part in democratic decision making processes, the process of production and the creation of knowledge within parameters of social justice and the creation of environmentally sustainable conditions.

Proposals

17. Democratize cities, towns and villages by ensuring fulfillment of all existing national and international rights and by creating new rights, changing the priorities for allocations of common resources locally, nationally and internationally in support of the impoverished population.

18. Ensure that the processes of production, appropriation and consumption of living space in its public and private character, fit within the physical limits of environment, infrastructure, ecological balance, conservation of historic and cultural heritage and practices.

19. Forge linkages between the public, private and social sector which create participatory mechanisms for the formation of public policies, based on alternate appropriate technologies which maximize the use of natural and material resources within a social and sustainable framework.

20. Create mechanisms of control by civil society and local governments over the resources obtained or raised as well as the international debt incurred for investment in the areas under their control.

21. Guarantee a new equilibrium between cities and rural areas by eliminating intermediaries in trade and establishing direct relations between producers and consumers, decentralizing supply centers and generating organizational forms of the popular sector for the acquisition of produce. To generate technology, management and recycling processes so that clean air, water and soil become once more available to rural inhabitants.

22. Universalize basic sanitation services and infrastructure with equal access for all urban and rural users.

23. Enlarge and ensure the participation of the population with special emphasis on the participation of women in administrative and legislative institutional channels that promote their role in processes of planning, control and decision making.

24. Promote the right to information and the access of popular sectors to mass media.

25. Promote and facilitate the constitution of funds at the local, national and international level with autonomous management mechanisms for the production of housing, building material and civic facilities and ensure social control over these resources.

26. Facilitate the utilization of resources coming from public budgets for the creation of productive employment, micro enterprises, co-operatives and other forms of income and employment generation.

27. Give priority to public transport in various modes and the introduction of transport systems based on non-polluting energy.

28. Support campaigns which strive for the recognition of equal rights for access to land and housing for women and the need to reinforce the leadership roles of women and social movements, in conformity with Women's Action Agenda 21.

29. Create social, economic, environmental and legal conditions whereby forced evictions, displacement, population transfer or migration is not possible without informed consent of the people concerned.

Commitments

30. The signatories of this treaty agree to create and participate in a Global Forum Towards Just, Democratic, Sustainable Cities, Towns and Villages which will contribute to the advancement of social movements for building a life with dignity in cities, towns and villages, widening environmental, economic, social, cultural and political rights of the residents; also by changing the management of these settlements and the quality of life, creating an environment to be enjoyed by present and coming generations.

31. The Forum undertakes to endorse priority actions in favor of popular sectors which have suffered most from the process of social exclusion imposed by the current model of development.

32. The commitments of this Treaty include to:

  1. Document and denounce mass evictions and other violations of housing rights, including those related to environmental deterioration and destruction
  2. Promote local, national, regional and international exchanges of experiences, information, expertise and technical assistance among the signatories of this treaty
  3. Carry out acts of solidarity and support for individuals, groups and organizations facing oppression or retaliation for their work in defense of the right to the city, the right to housing and/or the protection of the environment
  4. Systematize, analyze and disseminate knowledge and to facilitate new research which will further advance actions towards social achievements in the field of life in cities, towns and villages, housing and environment, linking popular organizations, support institutions and social research for the purpose of giving strength to this work and the social struggle
  5. Support and assist in networking, pressure actions and lobbying at local, national, regional and international levels, in defense of the principles and proposals of this Treaty
  6. Use all opportunities to strengthen the local, national, regional and international linkages among social movements, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), forums and local communities
  7. Facilitate joint actions among the signatories of this Treaty, aimed at enhancing the effectiveness of local actions in their respective realities.

33. To ensure the effective working of the Global Forum Towards Just, Democratic and Sustainable Cities, Towns and Villages, the signatories agree to set up a joint committee consisting of one representative each from the Habitat International Coalition (HIC), the Continental Front of Community Organizations (FCOC) and the Brazilian Forum for Urban Reform.

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