WORLD ASSEMBLY OF
THE CITY FROM THE GRASSROOTS
Mexico, 2 - 6 October 2000
CALL FOR PARTICIPATION
The dawn of the new
millenium has been marked by profound changes in our societies. Globalization
processes, rather than building a better world in solidarity for all,
widen the gap between rich and poor. The nation-state weakens with
the growing strength of the transnational powers, and a new role is assumed
by the cities and by local powers. These and other conditions appear
to announce the unfolding of a new era. All of this challenges us
to rethink - from our own perspective as organized urban dwellers - the
city that we want for the 21st Century and the strategies we should adopt
to contribute to its construction.
In the face of this
challenge and as the culmination of various processes of reflection and
public action which are being undertaken during this transition year by
social movements throughout the world, we convoke the World Assembly of
Urban Inhabitants to take place in Mexico between 2 - 6 October 2000,
with the theme:
THE CITY FROM THE GRASSROOTS”
A series of previous
events have laid some of the groundwork for this Assembly:
The Istanbul Inhabitants
Forum convoked by the Charles Léopold Mayer Foundation for the
Progress of Humanity was held in Turkey in June 1996 within the NGO activities
parallel to the second UN Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II).
In the Inhabitants Forum, representatives of social organizations from
Venezuela, Mexico, Brasil, Senegal and France debated on urban themes
and on the need to have their own voice in international forums.
The regional preparatory
processes towards Habitat II had the active participation of hundreds
of social organizations from throughout the world. Many of them
were also able to participate in Istanbul in events organized by Habitat
International Coalition (HIC), the African networks, the Latin American
table, the Asian Tent, HIC Europe and others.
A permanent space
for grassroots women working in community and shelter is provided by the
HIC Women and Shelter Network., which has hosted such activities as the
Latin American Encounter of Neighborhood Women Leaders held in Bolivia
There are also several
regional initiatives of networks of urban populations, such as Shack Dwellers
International (SDI) which coordinates the collaboration between organizations
of residents of precarious settlements in Asia and Africa. The Continental
Front of Comunal Organizations (FCOC) links social movements and organizations
from throughout the Americas. The Latin American Secretariat for
Popular Housing (SELVIP) links popular organizations in South America
struggling for the right to the city and to housing and that work in self-production
of popular habitat. The European section of HIC through the Union
of Tenants of Italy, began the construction of a European network of inhabitants
through an event held in Venice in 1998 on “popular strategies to stay
in historic city centers.” In West Africa, an initiative emerged
in 1998 during an event in Dakar, Senegal, to follow-up on the Istanbul
Inhabitants Forum through the promotion of a network of inhabitants of
various countries of the region (CIAH).
The preparatory process
of the World Assembly of Urban Inhabitants to be held in Mexico will also
link up with other initiatives of the social movements such as:
- The Latin American
“Cry of the Excluded,” a Brasilian initiative developed in response to
increasing social exclusion, which will culminate this year with a massive
“march of the people” to New York..
- The Inter-African Inhabitants Forum (Africities) to take place in May
- The European Assembly of Inhabitants to be held in Paris in September
at the occasion of the annual meeting of European housing ministers.
- Other events and processes that may be organized in the different regions
between February and September.
O B J E C T I V E S
- Reflect on the city that we want and advance in the construction of
a collective ideal.
- Propose strategic fields of joint action based on our innovative social
experiences, to support and advance the transformation processes that
- Establish the bases for strategic alliances and build exchange networks,
fronts and coalitions at all levels to disseminate our proposals and experiences
and to promote our recognition as legitimate agents of dialogue with governments,
international agencies, multilateral financial institutions and other
actors who impact on urban policies.
- Establish agreements on coordination strategies and mechanisms to present
united fronts for the necessary work in lobbying, negotiation and pressure
to defend, promote and implement our right to the city and to guarantee
the full realization of our human rights.
T H E M E S
I. BUILDING A COLLECTIVE IDEAL
Debate on the elements that allow us to envision the city that we
- Inclusive, convivial and solidary
- Sovereign, democratic and participative
- Economically and ecologically sustainable and responsible
II. FIELDS OF ACTION
Exchange and debate on our strategic fields of action, the orientation
we should give to our projects and the way to link and coordinate our
innovative practices to effectively impact on the city we want.
* Democratic city
Building citizenship and developing processes and instruments that
guarantee participative governance and co-responsability (partnership).
- defense and implementation of civil and political human rights
- instruments for participation and social initiative
- participative planning and management
- corresponsible execution of urban programs
- access to information
- models of partnership and negotiated decision-making
- social control of public administration and against corruption
- local empowerment
- new role of the social organizations and appropriation of public
* Inclusive city
Building a city for all.
to promote the recognition, defense and implementation for all of economic,
social and cultural rights
- strategies to promote equity in the urban distribution of public
investments and in access to goods and services
- strategies to impact on budgets and policies that foment employment,
improvement of the quality fo life and income redistribution
- strategies against urban segregation and insecurity of tenure
- gender equity as a social strategy and transforming policy
- attention to special sectors, minorities and vulnerabe groups
- urban production and management based in the movilization of
popular skills and assets
- processes towards the guarantee of respect for plurality and
Creating ecological and productive popular settlements
- social management of the water cycle: captation, rational use,
treatment and recycling
- alternative family and neighborhood sanitation systems
- management of solid wastes: classification, recycling, compost,
related income-generating activities
- forestation of popular neighborhoods, neighborhood ecological
parks, community orchards, urban agriculture
- community protection of green areas and ecological reserves
- use of renewable energy
- bioclimatic and low energy use designs in settlements and housing
* Livable city
Full realization of the rights to the city and to housing and improvement
of the quality of life.
- access to safe
and dignified land and housing
- the struggle against exclusion and the rights of the homeless
- social use of disoccupied housing
- access to housing
- basic infrastructure: water, sanitation, energy
- basic facilities: schools, health care, markets
- housing and neighborhood improvement
- improvement of the environment
* Productive city
Strengthening the local economy.
- strengthening popular production and distribution circuits
- the popular economy
- associations of social producers
- social production of habitat
- experiences in cash-free economies (barter systems)
- urban agriculture in public and domestic spaces for income-generation
* Healthy city
Participative health protection and promotion.
participative management of health programs
- social initiatives for the reorientation of health services
- lifestyle changes
- promotion of local health campaigns
- social protection of green areas and ecological reserves
- popular and alternative medicine
Building a participative and responsible citizenship.
- popular education for urban and neighborhood relations
- environmental education
- education for tolerance
- popular education services
* Safe city
Reconstruction of the social fiber; participative prevention of
social and natural risks, etc.
- development of
a human rights culture among local authorities, police and inhabitants
- collective safety networks and councils, neighborhood watch
- citizen watch and prevention of drug addiction
- neighborhood centers for conflict resolution
- recreational options for youth: sports, libraries, playgrounds, homework
- humanizing the police-inhabitant relation
- mapping of high-risk zones
- prevention of natural, industrial and social risks
* Enjoyable city
Recovering public spaces, green areas and cultural patrimony for
the enjoyment of all.
- improvement of
the urban image in popular neighborhoods
- rescue and support of traditional festivals and popular recreation.
- affirmation of neighborhood identity: support for collective actions,
the use of popular urban symbols, conmemorations
- cultural festivals, fairs and expositions in public spaces
- street theater and art
- cultural, play, sport and educational options in public spaces
Contributions and debate on the strategies to follow to build alliances
and strengthen our organizational skills, for strategic linking, and for
joint action with other actors within and between the diverse levels within
which we act: locally, nationally, regionally and internationally.
IV. STRATEGIES FOR INTERNATIONAL ACTION
The definition of actions and programs to promote at the international
level to mobilize for our common causes.
- building a unified voice in defense of life, the sovereignty
of peoples, justice and peace in the face of trends of the globalization
- expansion, recognition, protection and full implementation of
the human rights that define our right to the city
- definition and participation in strategic movilization strategies
such as follow-up to the global summits; the insecurity of
tenure for women and for all, equitable access to water, etc.
P R E P A R A T O R Y P R O C E S S
The World Assembly of Urban Inhabitants will be the culmination
of an intense preparatory process to be undertaken in all the regions.
Organization of National Processes
The movements, organizations and groups of inhabitants that wish
to participate in the Assembly should organize local and/or national processes
in order to:
- discuss the themes of their interest and define their participation
- establish their coordination mechanism
- select their representatives or delegates
Organization of Regional Processes
Already programmed events of organizations and networks can be taken
advantage of to:
- animate and prepare the participation of their members
- identify the themes of most strategic weight for their international
- develop their proposals for organizational strengthening and mobilization
- define their representatives
Communication of interest to participate, and registration
As soon as possible, contact the Support Secretariat of the Assembly
- communicate your interest to participate
- request the information you need and orienting documents
- if you wish, request the inclusion of the name of your organization
in the list of convokees or support organizations
- send to the Assembly Secretariat the list of organizations participating
in your local, national or regional process, with addresses, telephone,
fax, and e-mail.
Participation in the definition of themes for debate
The opportunity to “rethink the city from the grassroots” can be
approached via various angles, focuses and issues. Each region,
country, city and organization may have its own priorities as to themes
and the way to approach them. The four suggested classifications
of themes in this call for participation are thus not designed to limit,
but rather to indicate the general focus and some of the most relevant
issues to be addressed.
The processes generated at the national and regional levels will
indicate the final definition of themes and the way to structure the debates.
To fulfill the objectives of the Assembly and to allow enough time
to organize the work tables, the participants should:
- identify the themes in which you wish to participate and inform the
- define whether you wish to coordinate a theme, in which case you must
prepare an introductory text for the debates.
- name those responsible to draft the texts and to coordinate the debates
- Send the introductory text no later than 31 July.
Preparation of introductory texts
To introduce and animate the debates, taable coordinators are required
to draft and send to the Assembly Secretariat in Mexico a text of a maximum
of two pages (double spaced) that:
- locates the issue within one of the four categories (themes).
- focuses on presenting the issues to be debated, avoiding diagnoses of
the problem and the description of experiences.
- establishes questions that orient and provoke the discussions.
- suggests the time necessary to debate the issue.
The introductory texts should not be conferences. Rather,
they should provoke debate through creative proposals based on social
processes, popular struggles, experiences and reflections carried out
through the national and regional preparatory processes. The proposals
should be as cross-sectoral as possible.
The introductory texts may also suggest proposals and questions
on strategies for social accumulation, dissemination, exchange and linking
with other fields of innovation.
R U L E S O F T H E G A M
The structure of the Assembly has been kept flexible and open to
allow space and freedom for the integration of a variety of themes and
approaches. However, a minimal set of rules must be respected to
allow proper organization of the activities:
- The issues proposed and the corresponding introductory texts should
be located within one of the four categories of themes (see section on
- The final dates for registration and for the submission of introductory
texts, and other dates indicated in the section on CALENDAR,
must be respected.
- The themes which do not have coordinators or introductory texts by the
indicated dates, will not be included in the agenda of the Assembly.
- Those who prepare the introductory texts will be those responsible to
introduce and animate the participation in the tables.
- Interested NGOs and Academic Advisors may participate as support organizations
and event facilitators in the preparatory processes and the Assembly.
L A N G U A G E S
The introductory texts may be submitted in English, Spanish, French
The use of different languages in the Assembly will be defined at
a later date, taking into account themes, regions, and available resources.
C A L E N D A R
c t i v i t i e s
a t e s
interest to participate in the preparatory process and the Assembly.
February to 15 March
interest to appear as convokee or support organization.
February to 15 March
out local, national and regional preparatory processes.
of participants and table coordinators.
March to 15 June
of introductory texts.
INSCRIPTIONS and FINANCE
- cost of inscription (payable upon arrival) $20.00 US (includes
- each organization must secure its own funding to send its delegates.
- The Assembly Secretariat is negotiating solidarity contributions to
support local costs.
This call for participation is supported by:
- Solidarity Network of Autonomous Communities of Venezuela (RedSCA)
- National Union of Popular Housing of Brasil
- Homeless Movement - Leste 1, Union of Housing Movements (UMM), Sao Paulo
- Workers and Tenants Movement (MOI), Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Federation of Marginialized Towns and Neighborhoods (FEDEVI) Buenos
- Uruguayan Federation of Mutual-Aid Housing Cooperatives, (FUCVAM)
- Neighborhood Coordination Association, San José, Costa Rica
- Continental Front of Comunal Organizations (FCOC) of the Americas
- Costa Rican Autonomous Communal Movement (MCAC)
- Front of Inhabitants of Guatemala (FREPOGUA)
- COPADEBA, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
- Comunal Movement of Nicaragua
- Comunal Movement of Salvador
- Central American Federation of Communal Organizations (FCOC-CA)
- Latin American Secretariat for Popular Housing (SELVIP)
- Tenants Union of Italy, Unione Inquilini
- Confederation of Neighbor Associations of Spain (CAVE)
- Interafrican Network of Inhabitants, CIAH, West Africa
- Shack Dwellers International (SDI) Asia-Africa
- Homeless Peoples’ Federation of South Africa
- Organizations of the Urban Popular Movement of Mexico
National Alliance of Taxpayers of the State of Mexico · Social
Organizations Block ·COPROVI, Zacatecas ·The Garden of the
Suns of Torréon, Coahuila · Builders of tomorrow ·Popular
Civic Front of the State of Puebla ·Popular Front of Jalisco ·Union
of Pochtecas of México ·Independent Neighborhood Assembly
of Azcapotzalco ·Mexico City Neighborhood Assembly ·“Patria
Nueva” Neighborhood Assembly ·CCAT-UCAI-CDI ·CCAT-UCAI-Independent
·Unitary Workers Central ·Convergencia Tlalpan ·Social
Organizations Front of Ecatepec ·Francisco Villa Popular Front
·Servers of the Nation ·Neighbors Union of Guerrero ·Popular
Union of Street Vendors, 28 de Octubre, Puebla ·UPREZ of Hidalgo
·Popular Revolucionary Union Emiliano Zapata ·Popular Union
Valle Gómez ·UCISV-VER Pobladores A.C.
- Charles Léopold Mayer Foundation for the Progress of Humanity
- The Faculty of Arquitecture of the Central University of Venezuela
- Habitat International Coalition: International Secretariat
- Habitat International Coalition Regional Focal Points and Secretariats:
Asian Coalition for Housing Rights · HIC Europe · HIC Anglophone
Africa · HIC Francophone Africa · HIC Latin America ·
HIC North America
Other facilitating organizations:
- Habitat Forum Berlin
- COMISION HABITAT, Lima, Peru
- Center of Population Research, Documenation and Advisory, CIDAP, Peru
- Training anmd Advisory Center, CENCA, Peru
- CIUDAD, Quito, Ecuador
- National Network of Human Settlements, RENASEH, Bolivia
- Urban Forum, El Alto, Bolivia
- Initiative Center of the Women and Shelter Network, Bolovia
- CIERI, La Habana, Cuba
- Feminist Information and Action Center, CEFEMINA, San José, Costa
Local support organizations:
Habitat Mexico Coalition and other HIC members in Mexico
- Casa y Ciudad, A.C.
- Centro de la Vivienda y Estudios Urbanos A.C. (Cenvi)
- Centro Operacional de Vivienda y Poblamiento A.C. (Copevi)
- Fomento Solidario a la Vivienda A.C. (Fosovi)
- Center of Municipal Services “Heriberto Jara” A.C. (CESEM)
- Territory Network of Alliance
- FoodFirst Information & Action Network (FIAN), Mexico
- HIC Women & Shelter Network