Right to the city

Climate Crisis and Right to the City

Vanesha Manuturi
Tue, 08 Nov 2022

Last month, we were excited to attend the World Human Rights Cities Forum in person again after two years of remote participation. The 12th edition of the World Human Rights Cities Forum was held from 10 - 13 October 2022 in the City of Gwangju, Republic of Korea, focusing on the theme of Climate Crisis and Human Rights. For three days, we had the chance to connect and learn with a diverse network of like-minded activists, civil society organizations, experts, and government officials working hard to advance rights-based action plans toward a sustainable future. 

On 12 October, we co-organized a panel session at the Forum with the Global Platform for Right to the City titled: "Right to the City: Citizen-led Collective Action for Climate Justice." The session included Nelson Saule Jr from the Global Platform for Right to the City (GPR2C), Nastasia Tysmans from StreetNet International, and Rizqa Hidayani, Kota Kita's Urban Resilience Program Manager. Vanesha Manuturi, Communications and Advocacy Manager at Kota Kita, moderated the discussion. The session aimed to initiate a conversation on how the Right to the City perspective can be a reference framework for equitable climate action that citizens and communities lead at the local level and exchange experiences through case studies of citizen-led efforts in reclaiming their right to a safe, inclusive, and sustainable urban future.

Saule Jr from GPR2C elaborated that in addressing the complex nature of climate crisis and cities, the Right to the City concept can emphasize political participation and inclusive citizenship as critical components in building a just and inclusive local climate agenda. The focus on citizens was echoed by Kota Kita's Rizqa Hidayani, who raised the issue of the urban food systems and climate crisis. "Any measure to address climate change must be seen as an opportunity also to address development problems and reduce social inequalities and poverty, including the right to food," Hidayani noted. Meanwhile, Tysmans shared about the organization's work to empower informal street vendors to address the impact of the climate crisis by building shared knowledge and underlined the importance of building cross-sectoral allies. "We can no longer work in silos. We have to find creative ways to work with one another and take advantage of our diverse positions and our diverse ideas," Tysmans said. The discussion concluded with a shared statement on the need to build more cross-sectoral coalitions and engage local government allies as a vital strategy to further advance the Right to the City concept as a practical framework for a more just and equitable climate agenda. 

With the increasing climate pressures and the urgency of more concrete climate actions, discussions from the World Human Rights Cities Forum echoes our agenda to advocate for collective action, justice, and participation as critical components of climate agendas at the global and local level. By putting citizens at the heart of decision-making processes, we can create a more inclusive and climate-resilient urban future, not only for an elite group of people but for all citizens and inhabitants.

Right to the City session by Kota Kita and GPR2C at the 12th WHRCF in Gwangju, South Korea.