The 8th Urban Social Forum is Coming Next Week!

Vanesha Manuturi
Tue, 31 Aug 2021

“The right to the city is, therefore, far more than a right of individual access to the resources that the city embodies: it is a right to change ourselves by changing the city more after our heart’s desire.”
— David Harvey

In 2008, amidst the uncertainties and widening socio-economic inequalities in the wake of a global financial crisis, British geographer David Harvey called for a New Urban Agenda seeking to reshape urbanization by enhancing access to collective human rights. The call derived and cited the notion of Right to The City first introduced by French philosopher Henri Lefebvre in 1968 as an avenue to rethink and reclaim cities as a co-created urban space with inhabitants at the center of decision-making, instead of the state. 

Fast forward 13 years to 2021, cities in Indonesia and beyond now face a new list of uncertainties. Inequality persists, the COVID-19 pandemic looms, the impact of climate crisis encroaches — with marginalized communities taking the brunt of it. In the face of today’s uncertainties, the call to reclaim and reimagine our cities has become more urgent in building a more inclusive, socially just, and equitable world.

As the Secretariat of the Urban Social Forum (USF), Kota Kita has manifested the Right to the City agenda through an annual, open and free forum that brings together civil society members, social activists, experts, organizations, students, members of communities, and citizens to discuss and participate in a critical debate about the direction of Indonesia’s urban development. Year after year, the Urban Social Forum grows and expands the critical conversation about what kind of city we want and need, and how cities can be more inclusive of all kinds of aspirations, communities, people, and futures. Now in its 8th year, the Urban Social Forum continues the mission to keep the spirit of urban activism alive and relevant, although in a more adaptive digital form. 

The 8th Urban Social Forum seeks to explore various lessons learned, best practices, and ideas from a network of local and global urbanists with a mission to advocate the right to the city urban agenda and cultivate a collective imagination of better cities for the future. We are excited to kick off the festivities with the USF 8: International Mini Forum, scheduled on 7-10 September 2021. Through four sessions, we will discuss pressing urban issues, such as inclusivity, public health, and food security through the lens of the Right to the City agenda. We will be joined by a line-up of international scholars such as Yves Cabannes from the Bartlett Development Planning Unit - University College London, Lily Song from Northeastern University, Adriana Allen of Habitat International Coalition, and Rodrigo Faria G. Iacovini of Polis Institute, as well as research and civil society organizations from Indonesia such as WRI IndonesiaFIAN Indonesia, Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL), and many more.