2. What kind of public policies simultaneously guarantee access to decent housing with the right to an active, diverse and well-located neighbourhood?

March 24, 2017

This discussion is now closed. Thank you for your participation.

Moderators:

  • Claudio Torres Slum Upgrading Consultant, Housing and Slum Upgrading Branch. UN-Habitat
  • Pireh Otieno Human Settlements Officer, Urban Basic Services Branch - UN-Habitat
  • Kulwant Singh Regional Advisor - UN-Habitat
  • Marcus Mayr Urban Planner, Climate Change Planning Unit, UN-Habitat
  • Edmundo Werna Head of Unit at Sectoral Policies Dept. ILO

2. What kind of public policies simultaneously guarantee access to decent housing with the right to an active, diverse and well-located neighbourhood?

Question 2: What kind of public policies simultaneously guarantee access to decent housing with the right to an active, diverse and well-located neighbourhood?

Please share your ideas and/or examples below.

icomos españa
Thu, July 21, 2016 at 06.05 am

la politica establece el gobierno, éste se conforma por representantes que generalmente tienen insuficiente formación especifica sobre el tema, de tal forma que se apoyan en la opinión de los expertos quienes por lo general desvinculan la técnica de la cultura y por lo tanto convierten el problema de la vivienda en un asunto prioritariamente cuantitativo cuando en realidad debe ser al contrario.

Por otra parte, las politicas surgen de la pirámide del poder, no de los estratos inferiores donde precisamente está el problema, por lo tanto, son determinadas prescindiendo de un diálogo previo entre re-presentantes en el gobierno y re-presentados entre quienes gobiernan y quienes lo han hecho posible. Esto quiere decir que sin un diálogo proactivo entre gobernantes y gobernados no habrá politicas de vivienda que promuevan con justicia su accesibilidad.

En suma para acceder a la vivienda de manera justa y vivir en un espacio enriquecido de convivencia es indispensable educar a gobernantes y gobernados para que practiquen en forma activa la participación con respecto y preocupación por el otro

Lydia Gény – Discussion Moderator from Switzerland
Sun, April 3, 2016 at 05.03 pm

Dear all,

It was a real pleasure for me to assist in moderating this Urban Dialogue on Public Spaces, jointly with David Bravo. The level of participation – even after the online forum came to a close on 26 March – showed the keen interest in contributing to solving an urgent concern, namely, what kind of public policies simultaneously guarantee access to decent housing with the right to an active, diverse and well-located neighbourhood.

For many participants, a human rights perspective provided guidance to solve this complex equation since the right to adequate housing is a fundamental human right rather than a market commodity, and therefore States have to meet their international obligations by adopting and implementing public policies that ensure housing for all. The right to the city brings to light the social functions of the city and can also guide the discussions as it encompasses the right to adequate housing, among others rights. By adopting this approach, laws that criminalise poverty in public spaces or forced evictions must be repealed or reformed to be in conformity with international standards.

In addition, it was shown that housing has a direct impact on the creation, size and number, as well as the quality of public spaces depending on the neighbourhood. Indeed, housing status can lead to an increase in the fragmentation and segregation of urban spaces. Everyone must have access to quality public spaces, including those living in informal settlements. In order to overcome this, some participants referred to the importance of developing alternative tax systems, such as land value capture and taxation policies for providing better access to decent and affordable housing and for the provision of open and public spaces.

Finally, several interventions referred to the importance of adopting participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning in order to have public policies that take into account the specific needs of certain groups and users.

I am sure that this question will continue to be discussed during the Habitat III Thematic Meeting on Public Spaces. We wish you a fruitful discussion in Barcelona and ask that you please continue your engagement with the urban dialogues! 

Bahram Ghazi from
Wed, March 30, 2016 at 03.52 pm

There are two preconditions for addressing this issue. A) Access for all to adequate housing cannot be achieved as long as housing is understood as a mere commodity. From a human rights perspective, it is a place for individuals, families and communities to live in peace, security and dignity.

B) The question that you are asking needs to be put in the context of international human rights obligations. The right to adequate housing is recognized under international human rights law in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and has been recognized or referred to in many human rights treaties, declarations and conference outcome documents. The elements of the right to adequate housing give the framework for an efficient and coordinate approach for policies and programme. For reminder, the elements of the right to adequate housing include:

Security of Tenure: All persons should possess a degree of security of tenure which guarantees legal protection against forced eviction, harassment and other threats regardless of the type of tenure including ownership, public and private rental accommodation, cooperative housing, lease, emergency housing and informal settlements.

Affordability: Housing is not adequate if its costs threatens or compromises the occupants’ enjoyment of other human rights.

Habitability: Housing is not adequate if it does not guarantee physical safety or provide adequate space, as well as protection against the cold, damp, heat, rain, wind other threats to health and structural hazards.

Availability of services, materials, facilities and infrastructure: Housing is not adequate if its occupants do not have safe drinking water, adequate sanitation, energy for cooking, heating, lighting, food storage or refuse disposal.

Location: Housing is not adequate if it is cut off from employment opportunities, health care services, schools, childcare centers and other social facilities, or if located in polluted or dangerous areas.

Accessibility: Housing is not adequate if the specific needs of disadvantaged and marginalized groups are not taken into account.

Cultural adequacy: Housing is not adequate if it does not respect and take into account the expression of cultural identity.

Therefore the New Urban Agenda needs to be used as an opportunity by national and local state authorities to realize the right to adequate housing of all.

I warmly recommend the analysis and recommendation made by Ms. Raquel Rolnik, the previous Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, in her report on the financial crisis and its causes. This report, reference A/HRC/10/7, dates back to 2009 but not much has changed since then, unfortunately.

I also strongly encourage all interested in sustainable cities and housing, to read the report (reference A/70/270) of the current Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, Ms. Leilani Farha to the General Assembly on the centrality of the right to adequate housing for the development and implementation of the New Urban Agenda.

Both of these reports and many more are available in all UN languages here: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Housing/Pages/AnnualReports.aspx .

Lydia Gény – Discussion Moderator from Switzerland
Sat, April 2, 2016 at 08.02 pm

Thank you very much, Bahram Ghazi, for sharing with us the reports of these experts and for clarifying what the right to adequate housing really means and why it is so important that States adopt a human rights based approach when drafting the New Urban Agenda. Many thanks!

Edward J. Dodson from
Thu, March 31, 2016 at 01.43 am

Edward J. Dodson here:

I offer a number of comments below based on 40 years working in the United States on teams committed to a combination of community revitalization and the expansion of affordable housing. Conditions even here are far from uniform across the country. One condition that is uniform is the dysfunctional nature of property markets caused by (a) the over-taxation of property improvements; and (b) the low effective rate of taxation on the potential annual rental value of land parcels.  

Habitat III

Posted on: Public Spaces – Barcelona
New comment on Discussion 2. What kind of public policies simultaneously guarantee access to decent housing with the right to an active, diverse and well-located neighbourhood? by Bahram Ghazi : There are two preconditions

There are two preconditions for addressing this issue. A) Access for all to adequate housing cannot be achieved as long as housing is understood as a mere commodity. From a human rights perspective, it is a place for individuals, families and communities to live in peace, security and dignity.

Edward J. Dodson commenting:

Yes, and access to decent, affordable housing is an essential component to stable communities. This is difficult to achieve when most of the land in a community is absentee-owned and the owners are in a position to enjoy high unearned incomes, lightly taxed because of their position within the political hierarchy.

B) The question that you are asking needs to be put in the context of international human rights obligations. The right to adequate housing is recognized under international human rights law in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and has been recognized or referred to in many human rights treaties, declarations and conference outcome documents. The elements of the right to adequate housing give the framework for an efficient and coordinate approach for policies and programme. For reminder, the elements of the right to adequate housing include:

Security of Tenure: All persons should possess a degree of security of tenure which guarantees legal protection against forced eviction, harassment and other threats regardless of the type of tenure including ownership, public and private rental accommodation, cooperative housing, lease, emergency housing and informal settlements.

Edward J. Dodson commenting:

This perspective comes out of the very important work of Hernando de Soto and others. However, security of possession does not address the fundamental redistribution of income and wealth that occurs in a rentier-dominated community.

Affordability: Housing is not adequate if its costs threatens or compromises the occupants’ enjoyment of other human rights.

Edward J. Dodson commenting:

True enough. The philosopher Mortimer J. Adler put it well, when he wrote that one could identify a society as essentially just IF all had the opportunity to secure “the goods of a decent human existence.” This includes not only access to decent housing, but to food, to education, to medical care and the opportunity to participate in civic affairs. By this standard a significant portion of the world’s population live in very unjust societies.

Habitability: Housing is not adequate if it does not guarantee physical safety or provide adequate space, as well as protection against the cold, damp, heat, rain, wind other threats to health and structural hazards.

Edward J. Dodson commenting:

Of course, even when such housing is constructed the means to maintain the housing must be established, either by households having sufficient income to do so, or by the availability of community resources. This latter stipulation is a strong argument for a reliance on the capture of land rental values via taxation.

Availability of services, materials, facilities and infrastructure: Housing is not adequate if its occupants do not have safe drinking water, adequate sanitation, energy for cooking, heating, lighting, food storage or refuse disposal.

Edward J. Dodson commenting:

The capacity of the community to provide high quality public services depends on a reliable revenue stream. Again, the taxation of land rental values is the fairest and most efficient source of such revenue.

Location: Housing is not adequate if it is cut off from employment opportunities, health care services, schools, childcare centers and other social facilities, or if located in polluted or dangerous areas.

Edward J. Dodson commenting:

If economic theory tells us anything reliable, it is that the best path to a full employment economy is to reward production and commerce by minimal taxation, and to look to land values for needed revenue. A high enough annual tax on land holdings has other constructive effects, such as providing incentives to resource extracting firms to do so with minimal harm to the environment. This approach to raising public revenue also curtails sprawl by causing land in the population centers to be brought to its “highest, best use.”

Accessibility: Housing is not adequate if the specific needs of disadvantaged and marginalized groups are not taken into account.

Cultural adequacy: Housing is not adequate if it does not respect and take into account the expression of cultural identity.

Therefore the New Urban Agenda needs to be used as an opportunity by national and local state authorities to realize the right to adequate housing of all.

I warmly recommend the analysis and recommendation made by Ms. Raquel Rolnik, the previous Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, in her report on the financial crisis and its causes. This report, reference A/HRC/10/7, dates back to 2009 but not much has changed since then, unfortunately.

I also strongly encourage all interested in sustainable cities and housing, to read the report (reference A/70/270) of the current Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, Ms. Leilani Farha to the General Assembly on the centrality of the right to adequate housing for the development and implementation of the New Urban Agenda.

Both of these reports and many more are available in all UN languages here: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Housing/Pages/AnnualReports.aspx .



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Edward J. Dodson Director from United States
Sun, March 27, 2016 at 02.43 am

What must be understood by those entrusted to make and implement public policies is that land market activity is the main driver of the cost of housing and the ability of communities to increase the supply of decent, affordable housing. And, the price of land is directly related to the extent to which the annual taxation of land approaches the full potential annual rent al value of land. The economics is essentially as follows: every parcel or tract of land has some potential annual rental value associated with the locational advantages of some sites over overs. In towns and cities such locational advantages are determined by a combination of several factors: (1) population density; (2) concentration of economic activity; (3) availability of public and private amenities; and (4) transportation networks. Thus, land “rent” is societally- and not individually-created. When the community fails to collect the full amount of land rent that exists, market forces capitalize the net imputed rent into a selling price for land. The potential to profit from acquring land for speculation or hoarding of land for years or decades, drives up the cost of land that is offered for sale for development — of housing or for business activity.

Absent adoption of land rental values as the source of raising public revenue, the only recourse the community has is to purchase land from private owners — at whatever price the market situation demands — then see to the construction of housing that is either sold or leased to households subject to income limits. Resale restrictions on sold properties are then necessary to keep housing affordable over time. The most common approach in the United States is to restrict the sale to a household with an income no greater than some percentage (usually 80-100%) of area median income. Similar income restrictions are imposed on housing units offered under lease (and managed by a community agency).

Lydia Gény – Discussion Moderator from Switzerland
Sat, April 2, 2016 at 08.06 pm

Thank you very much, Edward J. Dodson, for your insightful comment and sharing your experience from the USA. You brought to light the importance of establishing regulatory mechanisms in order to ensure more equitable access to land and property, as well as the need to clarify the responsibilities and obligations of the States and the private sector to guarantee that their actions or omissions do not undermine human rights standards. 

Rob Wheeler Rob Wheeler, Commons Cluster and Global Ecovillage Network
Sat, March 26, 2016 at 05.46 pm

Land Value Capture and Taxation policies provide one of the best means for providing better access to decent and affordable housing and for active, diverse, and good quality public spaces. These policies were strongly recommended in the Vancouver Plan of Action and Istanbul Habitat2 Outcome Agreement and are included in the Habitat3 Policy and Issue Papers. 

Land Value Taxation results in the development of compact affordable cities, with lower land and thus property prices. It also enables a city to increase its revenue stream, encourages developers to develop their properties and to fix up run down buildings, and to provide jobs for low income wage earners in the rebuilding process. The additional revenues can be used to provide low income housing and to relocate people from geologically and geographically unsafe areas which ought to be used for recreational, open and green spaces anyway. 

Typically, the development of such public and open spaces, along with other highly desirable locations such as transit hubs and commercial areas, also results in significant rises in land and housing prices. With Land Value Taxation such increases that result from public and community development can be captured and then used to pay for further such public expenditures along with the development and maintenance of such public spaces. 

Land Value Capture policies also result in reducing the price of housing in urban communities. It is thus essential that human settlements be encouraged to adopt Land Value Capture and Taxation in order to reap the rewards that can come for such a policy including access to decent and affordable housing and to the provision of open and public spaces.

Given the many benefits that can accrue from such policies the International Union for Land Value Taxation and the Commons Cluster at the United Nations ask that the following recommendations be included in the Habitat 3 Outcome Agreement:

Direct the United Nations through UNHabitat to establish some type of a program or partnership initiative to focus on implementing LVT/C policies

Recommend that UNHabitat be tasked with coordinating and supporting efforts to implement LVT/C policies

Recommend that UN Habitat work with the SDG/LVT Cities Initiative being developed by the International Union for Land Value Taxation to do a study on the success and effectiveness of the program in raising funds to support sustainable urban development and ensure that adequate resources are made available to meet the basic human needs of all.

Thank you,

Rob Wheeler

Commons Cluster

UN Representative, Global Ecovillage Network

1-717-264-0957

skype: robineagle333

rob.wheeler@ecovillage.org

Rob Wheeler Rob Wheeler, Commons Cluster & Global Ecovillage Network
Sat, March 26, 2016 at 05.08 pm

The comments below were taken from a paper developed by the Commons Cluster of the NGO Major Group with EcoSoc status at the UN which was distributed at the Habitat3 European Regional Consultation and will be shared at the Habitat3 and other 2030 Agenda meetings at UNHQ in New York entitled “SDG 11: Learning from and working with Nature in Human Settlement Planning”. They pertain particularly to urban housing and public spaces. 

Rob Wheeler, Commons Cluster and UN Representative, Global Ecovillage Network

11.1 By 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums

Adequate housing is a matter of survival for all of Nature. In Nature HABITAT is a way for members of a species to become integrated into an ecosystem that nurtures them and to which they contribute in many diverse ways. Habitat provides a means to strengthen not only an entire species but also other interrelated species and ecosystems as well.

To create nurturing habitats for humans that also sustain the natural world, it is in people’s interest to help one another find adequate, safe and affordable housing so that individuals can contribute to and be nurtured by society, thus strengthening the human species as a whole. Developing sustainable ecosystems that include habitat for wildlife and native plants creates a vital link in building a sustainable future for human life on Earth.

Solutions that best serve all life are found in the immediate environment. For instance, we can look to Nature to create affordable, sustainable, safe, non- toxic, mildew and mold resistant housing that harmonizes with the surrounding environment. The natural world can be an inspiration for inventors, engineers, architects and builders to study as they design new human environments.

Cities are only as strong and resilient as the weakest part. People without a voice living in slums and hidden from view inevitably weaken the more visible aspects of cities. If we think of a city as a living being, it is vital to pay attention to all parts, working to make every area healthy and thriving. As an interim step to doing away with the slums, these impoverished areas can be made more habitable through public arts and works projects as well as through more accessible public services, such as hospitals, health clinics, and other vital facilities.

When working on this, or any of the SDGs, we have the power to come together with a sense of purpose, united around our highest vision that is heart-centered, heart-supported and heart-driven and inspired by Nature, leaving behind the frantic, constricted energy often found in such planning and implementation processes. 

Proposed Actions:

In planning and developing our communities, it is important to: 

  • Use local knowledge, skills and materials while accepting and appreciating

Global support. 

  • Be open and honest about plans for development and accept feedback and information from all interested parties.
  • Take the necessary time to connect with, show respect for and cooperate with the place, the people and environment. 
  • Acknowledge the challenges and the needs of all life forms sharing the space. 

11.3 By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries

Inclusive urbanization ideally resembles an ecosystem in which each person plays an integral role in the wellbeing of the whole and provides for the needs of the community, and the community in turn helps to take care of inhabitants’ needs. The more a city can take care of the needs of its inhabitants without dependence on expensive and environmentally harmful transport systems to bring in goods and services, the more wealth will be retained locally and the more sustainable a city will be.

Proposed Actions:

5.Create urban designs that include wild space and green space to allow for the needs of Earth as well as the needs of people. It is important to realize that all of Nature is important. Even insects play a vital role in the web of life and are thus essential to humans in order to sustain biodiversity and ecosystem functioning,  

6.Study the shape and movement of life in the environment (for inspiration when planning and developing areas) so as to align the design and development to harmonize with and enhance the surrounding environment. 

7. Focus on lifestyles and behaviors we want to promote and design spaces that encourage these (e.g. parks, meditation spaces, and spaces for healthy social interaction). 

8.Use sustainable architecture that can provide housing inexpensively, sustainably and quickly to areas in need; construct homes and community buildings in styles that celebrate the unique heritage of cultures and peoples including compressed earth block or earthen architecture, the use of natural building materials and processes, and indigenous building practices. (See: http://ecovillage.org/node/5998 under Natural Building and Climate Friendly Architecture for examples.)

17.Generate alternative financing resources where these are lacking. Alternative forms of financing can include:

  • Alternative tax systems such as the Land Value Capture tax (LVCT), whereby the use of the commons (land, natural resources, the electromagnetic spectrum) is taxed and tax is removed from labour. 
  • Such tax practices encourage people to work and also to care for buildings and ensure they remain occupied, since tax is being paid on the land on which these stand. 
  • These also discourage speculation. In some countries monies saved from this form of taxation render so much savings (e.g. because of drastically reduced bureaucracy) that it is possible to provide inhabitants with a basic income.
  • Tax people and organizations, including businesses, based on their ecological, global and other footprint. Like in the case of LVCT, this helps to preserve natural resources and generates tax revenues that can be removed from labour.

11.4 Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage

Nature will protect itself.  The question is, “Will it do so in such a way that maintains the conditions that support human life?”

Cultural heritage is often connected to the natural surroundings in which a people live; it is the geography that determines the challenges inhabitants must face and the experiences that are relevant to them on a day-to-day basis. 

Our natural and cultural heritage anchors people in historical time and also connects people beyond place and time, spanning both our distant past and our futures. Our cultural heritage connects us to the culture of people worldwide and to the whole Earth System. Protection and safeguarding our cultural and natural heritage involves building a deeply experienced recognition of the importance of both to our personal wellbeing and capacity to survive.

Proposed Actions: 

1.Safeguard our heritage.

  • Immediately safeguard natural and cultural heritage sites through the prevention of harmful behaviour by developing relevant new laws and implementing and enforcing those that already exist through local, national and international action. 
  • Be intentional where we put our focus. Fear, worry, doubt and past regret cannot liberate, whereas living in harmony with Nature brings awareness to new possibilities and the inspiration of the sheer power and natural intelligence of the environment in which we live.

2.Ensure education about our natural and cultural heritage.

  • Enable people, with the help of education, to reconnect with their capacity to care deeply.  Such deep caring begins with the self and can be fostered by the implementation of Article 26 (2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (the development of the full human personality).
  • Expose people to their own cultural and natural heritage so that they recognize how vital these are to their sense of happiness and wellbeing.
  • Protect our cultural and natural heritage by sharing it and communicating about it in a mindful manner through dance, visual arts, story telling, music. 
    • “Everyday we create new stories, new heritage. Foster gratitude to our ancestors for their stories, share these stories.” 
    • COMMUNICATE in all possible ways. This will make people want to safeguard their natural and cultural heritage, cultivating a deep understanding that these are vital parts of our own home where we can receive sustenance and inspiration at levels not obtainable in any other way, but only if all people take good care of them.
    • Show how connection to our cultural heritage helps people to relax and be inspired by timeless beauty.
  • Foster an appreciation in young people, through formal and informal education as well as the media, for their own culture and how this is connected to others. 
    • Encourage pride in one’s own community and its history as the most effective safeguard for its treasures. Caring and inclusiveness engender gratitude and celebration in people.   
    • Teach specific appreciation for culture—one’s own and that of others—as a way of enhancing people’s sense of belonging to a certain community as well as their sense of connection to other cultures, helping them to see how cultures are related. 
    • Provide insight beyond the specifics of a culture into what connects humanity integrally as a whole with one another and with Nature.
  • Create awareness of the devastation that occurs when a people’s connection to their cultural or natural heritage is disrupted, as has been done in the past (e.g. to Indigenous Peoples) and is still being done today.
  • Foster appreciation for Nature. 
    • Encourage the preservation of wild lands, particularly jungles, so that biodiversity can flourish and people can get as close to Nature in its original form as possible. Teach that every species is important. 
    • Reinforce the understanding of our interdependence with all aspects of Nature and the importance of what we can learn from Nature in terms of building sustainability. 
  • As a part of above process, teach all to honor and revere all life, as well as to honor and revere their forbearers while learning to heal that which was not in alignment with the whole of Nature.        
    • Be curious and accepting of new information and ways of being that move us toward healing and promote love.

11.7 By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities

Nature has been our natural home since time immemorial. By creating green spaces that are truly inclusive of Nature, they become places where we can relax, come into our own and feel ourselves to be a part of the larger whole. 

As we humans stand on the earth’s surface, feeling Nature growing below us, using our feet as support, we become energized. Our thoughts, hopes and wishes are enlivened, offering opportunities for new ways of thinking.  Such experiences can remind us that we are loved and teach us how to love in return. 

Green spaces in towns can help us to connect back to our natural home and experience our originally supportive connections with the whole Earth System. Such green spaces can achieve this to the degree they are inclusive of and accessible to both human beings and a wide range of other species; “green spaces” also include wild spaces. Access to wild Nature is vital, not only for physical health, but also emotional and spiritual health.

Architects today are equipped to create social infrastructure that will enliven and encourage not only green public spaces but also outdoor public areas for joyous congregating.  While examples of enlivening outdoor public areas are found everywhere in the developed world, they are most often absent in blighted areas.

Proposed Actions:  

 1. Increase the number of parks (green spaces, See target 11.7) in cities, creating designs that interconnect green spaces as much as possible and provide facilities that make them welcoming to all ages and social backgrounds. 

  • Such green spaces help to purify the air, provide shade, stabilize water systems and climate and enable people to relax and appreciate Nature.
  • Where green spaces are linked and allowed to grow wild, thriving ecosystems can flourish, becoming natural gathering places of species that often migrate from one green space to another.

2. Provide facilities for diverse types of people (benches for the elderly and disabled, playing fields for children and youth); and HABITAT for animals, plants, insects, birds, trees, and other species.

  • Include areas for dog parks, community gardens with fruit trees and vegetables, safe swimming areas, and wild spaces that honor all of the elements and all life forms and encourage reverence and respect as well as enjoyment and celebration with each other. 

3.Preserve and expand existing green areas. 

  • In many cases, green spaces are already there, imprinted on the land. For instance, there may have been an offshoot of a creek, which became a slum area, flooded periodically. The green space could be restored to its natural state and sustainable housing on higher ground be made for those who were living there.

4.  Develop motivated “citizen watches” to steward green spaces as caretakers and maintenance crews.

  • Initiate opportunities through citizen groups to educate visitors on the biodiversity of the local environment.

5. Encourage people to create roof and other gardens or where this is not possible, keep (individual or communal) plots of land outside of cities where they plant vegetables and flowers, keep small animals and experience Nature for their own enjoyment. Because gardens have similar positive characteristics to parks, they can help people augment their diets and reduce the stress of urban living.

6.Provide a funding mechanism for green spaces by adopting land value taxation.

  • Land value taxation places a tax on land while limiting or removing it from sale, income or building.
  • Through land value taxation, we can capture the rise in land value that naturally occurs when parks and green spaces are created – due to the increase in the surrounding property values.
  • This can then provide us with the revenue needed to pay for and establish more parks and green spaces and fund additional public amenities. (This policy recommendation was included in the Habitat 2 outcome agreement and in the policy papers for Habitat 3.

7.Involve those who will be using the green spaces in their planning. 

  • Create events where people who live near the site or planned site of the green/public space can provide their input.

8.Develop more ways to live life in harmony with Nature and all life sharing the planet with us. Even small acts can produce visible results.

  • Actions taken today will determine how life is experienced in the future.  It is how one responds to the challenges presented that allows them to build the strength necessary to continue and to implement the wisdom gained.
  • It is the key element to creating a nurturing, respectful world. Nature is not elitist, it is here for everyone. All humans of all walks of life need to be nurtured by Nature, need to feel that grounding and be reminded that they are loved and can love too.

l1.c Support least developed countries, including through financial and technical assistance, in building sustainable and resilient buildings utilizing local materials

A city is like a human being: All parts are important and need attention. If we  consider all the countries as organs in a larger being—the planet, for instance—we recognize that paying attention to the countries that could use the most assistance helps all nations, particularly if we make use of the ingenuity of people from every nation to develop innovative, sustainable constructions that proudly express the culture of the people and align with Nature. 

When insight is shared from one country to another in a program of exchange, each culture of people is honored for its unique wisdom, and all nations are benefitted. In this way nations collaborate on behalf of the highest good for life on the planet and humans live in harmony with Nature.

A typical development model involves sending people from industrialized countries to developing countries to participate in “hands-on” work.  In fact, all nations are leaders in their own way and industrialized nations have much to learn from developing nations as well. So those coming from developed countries should be prepared to learn just as much as those they are coming to help. The same is true with North/South cooperation where it is imperative that we all endeavor to learn from one another. 

The same might be true when it comes to constructing resilient buildings from local materials. Where people live closer to Nature without great influence from the technologically advanced world, they tend to build using local materials and architecture that is well adapted to protect from heat and cold.

Such cultures often have expertise in building low-tech, resilient and sustainable housing that can be adapted to high tech societies, where building is often automatically associated with expensive high-tech heating and cooling systems that cost much to operate and are often damaging to the environment.

Institutions of higher learning, such as MIT, are already involved in bringing low-tech solutions from developing countries to industrialized countries. 

Development practices that have been copied from the developed world and that make extensive use of unsustainable approaches and materials should be replaced by more sustainable processes and practices that are already being developed in both the developing and developed world and that often borrow from indigenous cultures and experiences.

When we appreciate the opportunity to learn from and collaborate with others on behalf of the best outcomes for all, we can make a significant difference even where small development steps are taken because compassion for others is one of our most powerful tools.

Lydia Gény – Discussion Moderator from Switzerland
Sat, March 26, 2016 at 11.23 pm

Thank you very much Rob Wheeler for your intervention and for posting this document. We will include your comprehensive list of suggestions in our report. Thank you once again. 

Nelson Saule Júnior Lawyer , Gereral Coordinator from Brazil
Sat, March 26, 2016 at 01.16 am

By the Global Platform the Right to the City is fundamental  the integration of the public policy of  urban land and the housing policy in the cities

The main principle to integrate these policy are the social function of the city and the social function of the property/land

To recognize in urban policy the ‘social function of property (space, housing and habitat)’ as meaning ‘all non-market processes carried out under inhabitants’ initiative, management and control, that generate and/or improve adequate living space, housing or other physical urban assets.

It is necessary to establish and progressively realize the right to adequate housing in policy and legislative frameworks and ensure it mainstreams availability of needed services, affordability, habitability, and accessibility for all and especially the most poor, vulnerable, and minority groups, while also addressing aspects of participation, non-discrimination, security of tenure, transparency, and accountability.

The recogntion of Land Use Planning Principles as essential to the efficient and sustainable utilization and management of land in land use policies or land policies. It is relevant use urban planning mechanisms to capture increases in land value, redistribute this towards social housing and public space provision, and minimize vacant property rates.

Important measure  is recognize housing tenure types other than freehold ownership, reflecting the various needs and preferences of different groups, namely leaseholds, condominiums, cooperatives, shared leaseholds, and especially various forms of rental housing. A continuum of tenure types should be available to all providing adequate security of tenure in order to guarantee the welfare of households and stimulate housing incremental improvements and expansion.

It is necessary to develop new spatial forms for cities to promote decent job creation. Urban areas that are higher in density and well connected; integrate work/livelihood and housing; reduce transport costs; and facilitate job creation.

the work with communities in urban design to foster social inclusion, celebrate multiculturalism, and enable urban livelihoods, thus creating rich, vibrant spaces in the urban commons at neighborhood levels must to be adopted in the urban policy,

The adoptions of laws and regulations that establish enabling systems to create, revitalize, manage, and maintain public space, including participatory processes to define their use and manage access to public spaces is fundamental

The other measures is necessary  to implement with  legal and administratives tolls are the  protection  the quality and quantity of public space in unplanned areas and informal settlements;   assure public spaces are free from violence, particularly against women and young people, and  reduce the trend of privatization of public space to ensure that all residents can access amenities and infrastructure in their place of residency.

Lydia Gény – Discussion Moderator from Switzerland
Sat, March 26, 2016 at 11.42 pm

Thank you once again, Nelson, for your valuable contribution. We will include your suggestions in our report. Many thanks. 

Lydia Gény – Discussion Moderator from Switzerland
Fri, March 25, 2016 at 10.56 pm

Dear all, as tomorrow is the last day of this urban dialogue on public spaces, we would be glad to see as many interventions and comments as possible. Your participation is crucial in this process towards the UN Habitat III Conference. We look forward to receiving and reading your contribution ! 

somosLOCAL
Fri, March 25, 2016 at 05.38 pm

Policies that think housing in collective (collective as a construction on the “public”, the “diverse”, the “common”, the “for all”, the “mixed”  and in mutual relationship with the city which means the allocation of social/affordable housing close to transit and close to employment neighborhood and the relationship between the unit and the street, the unit and the city, the unit and its society.

Lydia Gény – Discussion Moderator from Switzerland
Fri, March 25, 2016 at 09.25 pm

Thank you very much Somos Local for your valuable comment. Do you have in mind any good practice that encompasses the points that you raised in your intervention ?

RB Singh Professor from India
Fri, March 25, 2016 at 11.23 am

1. Decent Housing in urban areas should guarantee diversity of income and culture together with size of family.

2. Housing guidelines and building codes should be in accordance to avoid and minimise probable disasters like fire, earthquake, bulding collapse and others. 

3. Urban Heat Island Mitigation through urban geometry, use of appropriate building material, colour and green neighbourhood. 

4. Linkages with Smart city initiatives including new and existing smart cities. 

5. Restoration and preservation of cultural heritage cities. 

Lydia Gény – Discussion Moderator from Switzerland
Fri, March 25, 2016 at 09.18 pm

Thank you very much for your valuable comment RB Singh. Would you like to explain further the content of each recommendation and illustrate with examples ? 

Lydia Gény – Discussion Moderator from Switzerland
Wed, March 23, 2016 at 12.50 am

Thank you once again for your contributions. I would like to suggest that we reframe the discussion by considering the right to housing as one component of the right to the city, rather than as in opposition to each other.  The right to adequate housing is well recognised under international human rights laws as mentioned by some interventions. On the other hand, the right to the city as mentioned in the policy paper “1-the right to the city and cities for all” is a new paradigm that provides a framework to re-think our approach to cities and urbanization in order to include the protection of all internationally agreed human rights, including the right to adequate housing. It also encompasses the issues of sufficient, accessible and quality public spaces. In this context, it has been shown that housing issues have a direct impact on the creation, size and number, and the quality of public spaces depending on the neighbourhood. As discussed with David, too often, the housing status of inhabitants can be an obstacle to social integration, which leads to fragmentation and territorial segregation of urban spaces.  

This issue brings to light other important challenges that I would like to suggest we discuss over the few remaining days that we have before the end of this online forum, on 26 March 2016. We have discussed the negative impact of construction of housing in cities when that is not based on an inclusive approach to urban planning. I would like now to address the issue of the criminalisation of poverty in public spaces, often as a result of the lack of adequate housing. How could Governments ensure that public spaces be localities promoting socially integrated neighbourhoods and inclusive cities? Would someone like to share their thoughts on these issues? 

Thomas Centre for Human Rights, Pretoria from South Africa
Thu, March 24, 2016 at 03.32 pm

The criminalisation of poverty, embodied in vestiges of nineteenth-century legislation in many parts of Africa and elswhere, represents a collection of public policies that certainly do not contribute to inclusive or diverse urban spaces.  They give the police licence to arrest and abuse vulnerable populations, often under the guise of urban transformation, crime prevention, privatisation, beautification or redevelopment.It’s reassuring to see that considerable momentum is building behind a broad lobbying effort to decriminalise petty offenses [see for example here].

But this forum could be an interesting place to explore non-legal approaches to the same problem. What kinds of public housing can protect the rights of vulnerable populations; or perhaps just as importantly, how can we ensure that (in some cases much-needed) urban regeneration agendas are not used as stalking horses for social cleansing?

Lydia Gény – Discussion Moderator from Switzerland
Fri, March 25, 2016 at 11.07 pm

Thomas, thank you so much for also bringing to this discussion your experience in Africa. Would you like to further develop your idea of non-legal approaches ? It would be very interesting to hear from other participants what is happening in their regions and cities. Please feel free to share any initiative/law/policy aimed at improving access to housing for those living in situation of poverty in public places. Does anyone know about laws that criminalise life-sustaining activities in public places, such as sleeping, begging? 

Julio Vásquez
Mon, March 21, 2016 at 04.29 am

Buscar la respuesta holística al problema de la vivienda no nos ha llevado en los últimos años (1997 año en que me gradué) y los problemas persisten; no creen que sea el momento de hacernos la pregunta que nadie quiere responder:

¿Debemos generar soluciones habitacionales que estén en el punto de equilibrio de una casas barata y un redito económico para el negocio de la vivienda; teniendo al estado como regulador de estas curvas?

Se debe y se puede hacer; ahora sufrimos temas como burbujas inmobiliarias debido a que la vivienda en general es un buen y lucrativo negocio… pero mal llevado.

Saludos

David Bravo – Discussion Moderator Architect, editor of publicspace.org from Spain
Sat, March 19, 2016 at 01.25 pm

Thank you for your comments! Let’s focus on the social production of the urban habitat. Frederic Saliez seems to be surprised that we are talking about housing in a debate on public space. I think house and street are inseparable realities and that the quality of each depends on the other. Indeed, both the public spaces in spontaneous urban growth and public spaces in housing estates designed by urban planners are responses (successful or not) to a massive need for housing.

The problem, in my view, is that the rapid and massive housing production often leads to poor quality public spaces. In other words, we try to realize the right to housing without guaranteeing the right to the city. On the one hand, hosing estates are usually monofunctional dormitory towns, located in spatially and socially segregated peripheries. Top-down welfarism uses to produce urban monsters like the Parisian banlieue because it follows a purely quantitative industrial logic: cheap land plots (in the outskirts) are filled up with huge and exempt towers and blocks that only large construction companies can build quickly and cheaply. On the other hand, informal settlements do really count on the “fantastic energy” of many small hands because they are made by bricolage, not through urban planning. But, in these settlements, the individual forces are not always able to reach collective agreements so that the streets are wide enough for a bus, so that there is an adequate number of squares and parks or so that sewers work properly.

As Rafael Hortua raises, we must take into account “the role of the different actors involved in the local housing production cycle”. If, as claimed by Indu Prakash Singh, we want to make real a scenario of “housing for all”, we must work with all. If “the Government of India needs to construct 9781 houses per day in order to provide 25 million houses by 2022”, should they do so only with planning and large companies? Or should they search for solutions that take advantage of informal settlements qualities?

In short, my question is: how to ensure the mass production of houses (right to housing) while producing quality public spaces (right to the city)? How to combine the capacity of formal city (urban planning) to make collective agreements with the production capacities of many small hands (bricolage)? How to make possible that many people with few economic resources but with manual skills are able to live in mixed and compact neighbourhoods with quality public spaces? Can we relearn to make mixed and compact cities based on small plots and between party walls and made by small professionals or by assisted self-build systems (Do It Yourself)?

Julio Vásquez
Mon, March 21, 2016 at 04.21 am

¿ cómo garantizar la producción masiva de casas (derecho a la vivienda), mientras que la producción de espacios públicos de calidad (derecho a la ciudad)?Buscar respuestas acordes a las necesidades de los mercados es el problema en donde se debe actuar; cuando hablamos de viviendas acordes a los espacios urbanos cae en la idea que desea tener el usuario final. Cuando existe un gobierno que desea regalar todo para obtener votos, hace que la vivienda se desvirtué de lo que en verdad debe ser. El desarrollo vertiginoso de tener una ciudad con los mejores espacios hace que en ocasiones no se tenga una realidad acorde a lo que se debe ofrecer técnicamente, sectores que deben ser intervenidas con una regeneración social, habitacional y urbana es lo que se debe buscar. 

¿Cómo combinar la capacidad de la ciudad formal (planificación urbana) para hacer convenios colectivos con las capacidades de producción de muchas manos pequeñas (bricolage)?  Esta parte es muy sencillo, encontrar el punto de convergencia entre la curva descendente(economía de las familias) de lo que desean los interesado en una vivienda y la curva ascendente del interés de las empresas por ganar réditos económicos que sustenten la necesidad en común de una simbiosis económica que garantice el éxito común. Ideas se pueden generar pero en esta parte se necesita el apoyo de los gobiernos locales o nacionales para llegar a esa relación tripartita que debe mantenerse y ser ellos los árbitros sociales.

¿Cómo hacer posible que muchas personas con pocos recursos económicos, pero con habilidades manuales son capaces de vivir en mixtos y compactos barrios con espacios públicos de calidad? La integración o la generación de alternativas constructivas que se adapten a los requerimientos urbanos es el reto de las nuevas generaciones; buscar un equilibrio entre lo que tienen las personas en la actualidad y lo que se le debe ofrecer; considerando que las normas urbanas o reglas necesarias ayuden al fortalecimiento de esa unidad habitacional o urbana que debe existir. Por ejemplo: barrios más acorde a las necesidades propias y no con modelos extranjeros que producen errores muy perjudiciales para la sociedad.

¿Podemos aprender de nuevo que las ciudades sean mixtos y compactos basados ​​en pequeñas parcelas y entre medianeras y realizados por profesionales de pequeñas o por sistemas de autoconstrucción asistida (hágalo usted mismo)? El costo de la tierra es uno de los problemas principales; las redes urbanas como vías de excelente orden, redes eléctricas, sanitarias y de esparcimiento son necesarias pero no consideradas y de un alto costo. Buscar parcelas pequeñas hace que esto sea muy costoso para las grandes ciudades, no así para aquellas que recién empiezan en su desarrollo urbano que se verán afectadas con el pasar del tiempo. Se debe pensar en crecimientos urbanos sostenidos (familiares y económicos) que con el pasar y mejoramiento de las familias hagan de esto un desarrollo no solo social, sino habitacional y urbano.

Rafael Hortua Analista-redactor en políticas e intervenciones de desarrollo from Canada
Thu, March 17, 2016 at 06.15 pm

Cualquier política en ese sentido debe comenzar por enmarcarse en un plan integral que oriente el desarrollo económico de la ciudad y su desarrollo o redesarrollo urbano. Con ese marco y teniendo muy en cuenta las condiciones vigentes del mercado de la vivienda, una política que asegure el acceso a una vivienda “decente” y el derecho a un buen vecindario debe incluir aspectos de base como su modelo de financiamiento y el papel de los diferentes actores que intervienen en el ciclo local de producción de vivienda.

indu prakash singh I work on the Urban issues of India. Been active on it since 1993 from India
Thu, March 17, 2016 at 10.48 am

Housing has to be intertwined with livelihood. And indivisibility of all human rights (Education, Food, Housing, Livelihood, Water, Sanitation, plus adherence to all the UN Declarations, Charters, Covenants and Conventions, etc ) has to be ensured. There has to be a moratorium on  forced evictions. 

The Delhi Government, under the Chief Ministership of Arvind Kejirwal,  has come up with a very good housing policy (see the attacments please).

We need to have similar policies throughout the country.

Actually there should be no Cut-Off dates, which is there in the Delhi government policy too.  Housing for All should be the mandate of all the governments. Tenure security has to be there. We need to adopt the housing continuum, starting with the shelters for the CityMakers (homeless residents), followed with working hostels, rental housing, transit housing for insitu upgradation, and a full-fledged housing with full ownership.

Of the 19,37,520 sq. ft. space required under the MPD – 2021 (4.3 clause: 1 shelter per 1 lakh urban population, each of 1000 sq.mt. [10724 sq. ft. (Clause: 4.4.3 (F), of MPD, 2021)], which can only house 38,750 persons {going by 215 persons who can be accommodated per 1000 sq. mt.}), DUSIB has only 2,44,507 sq. ft. (only 12.6 % of the MPD – 2021 norms) as on date for the shelters. The shelter space is deficient by 87.4 % of the MPD – 2021 norms.

And mind you there are not less than 150,000 CityMakers in Delhi. Of which only 4890 homeless persons get shelter. Amounting to mere 3.2% of the CityMakers in Delhi being provided a dignified shelter.Remaining are left to fend for themselves. Or squeezed into the limited spaces, running the risk of sick building syndrome.

There’s a housing deficit of 24.7 million houses in the urban India. 99.8% of this deficit is for the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) and Lower Income Group (LIG). This is as per the govt’s own admission. PMAY, AMRUT, SMART cities is far removed from addressing this scenario despite the clarion call of the Govt of India of Housing For All, 2022. From 2015, the Government of India needs to construct 9781 houses per day,  to provide 25 million houses by 2022. The operational planning is lacking. 

Frederic Saliez from
Thu, March 17, 2016 at 08.45 am

I thought that the discussion what about public spaces…?  Or is it implicit in your question that guaranteeing access to decent housing with the right to an active, diverse and well-located neighbourhood requires public policies on public places?  Do you imply that housing policies shall start with public space policies?

Spontaneous urban growth is not a challenge per se, the question is to drive this fantastic energy towards collective interests rather than immediate individual benefits. Urban history is full of great public spaces created by spontaneous urban growth with no formal planning, as well as so many poor urban space created by planners…  The key question is not formal or informal, but raise public space culture at all levels.

David Bravo – Discussion Moderator Architect, editor of publicspace.org from Spain
Wed, March 16, 2016 at 07.58 pm

Gracias, Alejandro y “Universidad Especialidades Espíritu Santo”. Efectivamente, el derecho a la vivienda y el derecho a la ciudad se han escindido, haciéndose mútuamente excluyentes.

Por un lado, están las ciudades-dormitorio. La producción pública de vivienda se basa con demasiada frecuencia en lógicas puramente cuantitativas que priorizan la reducciòn de tiempos y de costes por delante de la calidad urbana. Por este motivo, se suele optar por suelos periféricos (más amplios y baratos) y por sistemas industrializados que generan arquitecturas aisladas y agrupaciones habitacionales demasiado numerosas (de convivencia problemática) cuya ejecución solo está al alcance de grandes empresas constructoras. El resultado es que se facilita el acceso a la vivienda pero se atenta contra el derecho a la ciudad. Se producen guetos, bbarrios física y socialmente segregados donde el espacio público es demasiado extenso, es decir, inhóspito, inactivo, inseguro y de dificil mantenimiento. La banlieue parisina es un buen ejemplo de ello.

Mientras tanto, ocurre todo lo contrario en los barrios históricos, es decir céntricos, constituidos por fincas pequeńas y entre medianeras. Su composición mixta y compacta tiene tanto atractivo turístico e inmobiliario que la gentrificación acaba despoblándolos. Entonces, la calidad formal de su espacio público contrasta con la carencia de la vida vecinal que lo llenaba de uso y de sentidos. Es una suerte de taxidermia.

Por otro lado, los asentamientos informales, corroborando el principio según el cual “la realidad supera la ficción”, contradicen la excusa oficial de que no hay medios suficientes para responder a la demanda de vivienda. Aunque “informales”, la energía, los materiales y las destrezas que se invierten en la construcción de los barrios no planificados es tanto o más real que el planeamiento urbanístico y demuestran que la necesidad de un techo es más imperiosa que cualquier normativa del suelo.

¿Es posible fusionar las ventajas de cada uno de estos tres escenarios y evitar sus respectivas desventajas? ¿Pueden conjugarse la industrialización y la autoconstrucción en la producción de edificios residenciales pequeńos y entre medianeras, que generen barrios mixtos y compactos, es decir, con un espacio público de calidad?

Universidad Especialidades Espiritu Santo
Tue, March 15, 2016 at 09.44 pm

La búsqueda de una vivienda apta para ser utilizada por parte de la base de la sociedad; ha generado que este grupo de personas estén desatendidos por los promotores inmobiliarios. Al requerir una atención caen en manos de los asentamientos informales propiciados por personas no capacitadas para diseñar ciudades y peor grupos urbanos. Existe una brecha profunda entre los asentamientos formales e informales que luego del paso de los tiempo se encuentran en un punto donde inician los problemas sociales que todos conocemos. El crecimiento vertiginoso de las grandes y pequeñas ciudades hace que las mismas se conviertan en problemas para los gobiernos locales y regionales dando por ello un encarecimiento del suelo urbano que se paga de manera gradual.

El objetivo primordial es promover centros urbanos mixtos ordenados, con crecimiento planificado y proyectado en las nuevas generaciones o familias iniciales, considerando un plan de desarrollo económico que luego les permita a las familias acceder a otra unidad básica, que esté acorde al posibles crecimiento del poder adquisitivo de estas nuevas familias.

Saludos.

Alejandro from Spain
Tue, March 15, 2016 at 01.30 pm

The kind of policies that clearly understand and state that housing is a right and not a mere merchandise good.

The real question is: who is entitled to that right and in which terms? In Barcelona and other “successful” cities there is an extraordinary pressure on a limited amount of dwellings (good) and almost no public housing available (right)

Should public housing be given to the neediest only? Should it be offered in available peripheral plots only? Should it be as well built and finished as conventional market housin? Should I be able to buy one?

David Bravo – Discussion Moderator Architect, editor of publicspace.org from Spain
Tue, March 15, 2016 at 12.48 pm

Welcome to this online discussion on urban public spaces for the Barcelona Thematic Meeting, which will be open to everybody from 14 until 26 March. I am really glad to be moderating this discussion and looking forward to listening to your contributions and discussing them with you.

During the recent six or seven decades, cities have grown and have been transformed like never before, to the extent that they have provided shelter for more than half the world’s population. This accelerated process has produced very unfair and unsustainable cities. In many informal settlements, housing estates or suburban fabrics houses jumble together according to merely quantitative logics and without being able to generate quality public spaces. As the sociologist Richard Sennett puts it, “we have lost the art of making cities”.

In a time in which gentrification empties city centres and urban sprawl wings people away to endless peripheries, it is more necessary than ever to have more mixed and compact cities. I believe that compactness and mixture make cities fairer and more sustainable. How can we guarantee access to housing for the most disadvantaged without expelling them to segregated urban ghettos?