NGO Documents for the Earth Summit, 1992
Non-Governmental Organization Alternative Treaties
at the '92 Global Forum
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Treaty 46. Treaty on Urbanization.
Towards Just, Democratic And Sustainable Cities, Towns And Villages
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
32. The commitments of this Treaty include to:
a. Document and denounce mass evictions and other violations of housing rights,
including those related to environmental deterioration and destruction
b. Promote local, national, regional and international exchanges of experiences,
information, expertise and technical assistance among the signatories of this treaty
c. 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
d. 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
e. 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
f. Use all opportunities to strengthen the local, national, regional and international
linkages among social movements, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), forums and local
g. 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
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