The United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, referred to this year as Habitat III, is a consultative process held every twenty years to reinvigorate the global commitment to sustainable development. All UN Member States and other relevant stakeholders are invited to participate. The WIEGO Network was active throughout the year-long Habitat III process, which culminated in the adoption of the New Urban Agenda (NUA) at the Habitat III summit in Quito, Ecuador in October 2016.
Throughout the Habitat III process, the WIEGO Network was active in advocating for the recognition and integration of informal workers and their livelihoods into the New Urban Agenda document. In this process, WIEGO served as co-chair of the Grassroots Partners Constituency Group of the General Assembly or Partners, participated in policy units and a range of regional, thematic and preparatory meetings around the globe (described below).
The efforts of the WIEGO Network to make visible the contributions of urban informal workers to cities and to advocate for inclusive urban policies are reflected in the NUA document:
The Habitat III Summit in Quito, Ecuador
At the Habitat III summit in Quito, a twenty-four person WIEGO Network delegation made up of 12 WIEGO team members and 12 informal worker representatives hosted and participated in a range of events and dialogues, many of which were focused around implementation of the New Urban Agenda. The WIEGO delegation was well-positioned to speak to implementation, as prior to the summit, the WIEGO MBO Network developed a platform outlining how local and national governments should work towards implementing the NUA in a way that supports and includes urban informal workers. The WIEGO delegation, made up of representatives from organizations of street vendors, home-based workers and recyclers and representing eight countries, also addressed implementation through sharing examples from their work. Their contributions of concrete examples, strategies and experiences (in addition to those of other grassroots groups such as Slum/Shack Dwellers International and the Huairou Commission) provided a valuable counter-balance and complement to many of the policy-focused discussions at the conference.
Read more about the participation of the WIEGO Network in the Habitat III summit.
The Zero Draft
Prior to the adoption of the New Urban Agenda, a Zero Draft (May 6 version) was released, containing several references to informal workers, informal livelihoods, and the informal economy. WIEGO issued a written response to that version. WIEGO and Slum/Shack Dwellers International (SDI), as co-chairs of the Grassroots Partner Constituency Group of the General Assembly of Partners (GAP), also issued a joint response. Since UN member states issued the first revised version of the Zero Draft, WIEGO continued to provide feedback via the GAP.
Policy Units and Expert Groups
Habitat III Policy Unit Papers
Policy Units bring together experts in different fields of sustainable urban development in order to develop independent policy recommendations via Policy Papers, which are official inputs in the Habitat III process.
Martha Chen, International Coordinator; Sally Roever, Director of the Urban Policies Programme; Sonia Dias, Waste Picker Sector Specialist; and WIEGO consultant Alison Brown served as Habitat III Policy Unit members and contributed to the papers produced:
- #1 Right to the City and Cities for All (Sally Roever and Alison Brown)
- #2 Socio-Cultural Urban Frameworks (Sonia Dias)
- #7 Urban Economic Development Strategies (Marty Chen)
Victoria Okoye stands with WIEGO partners at the Informal Settlements Plenary Session.
Informal hearings / Intersessional process (26 April)
On 26 April, Sally Roever and Alison Brown participated in the Open-Ended Informal Consultative Meetings in New York City. Sally and Alison represented their Policy Unit on two panels.
On 6-7 June, Pilar Balbuena joined Rose Molokoane of Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI) to represent grassroots voices in response to the Zero Draft of the New Urban Agenda at the Informal hearings with stakeholders.
The World Urban Campaign and the General Assembly of Partners
WIEGO is a lead partner in the World Urban Campaign (WUC), part of WUC’s Steering Committee and co-chair of WUC’s Communications Subcommittee. We are also a member of the Grassroots Partner Constituency Group (PCG) of the General Assembly of Partners (GAP, a special initiative of WUC), along with Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI).
Together with these partners, WIEGO has created space for informal workers to participate in the Habitat III process. The GAP supports stakeholder engagement and contributions from a wide range of constituencies to the Habitat III process. As co-chair of the Grassroots Partner Constituency Group (along with SDI), WIEGO has participated on Advisory Boards, presented stakeholder statements, and contributed inputs to the official declarations of Habitat III regional and thematic meetings. It has also contributed to Partnerships for the New Urban Agenda, a key advisory document proposing stakeholder involvement in the preparation, crafting, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation of the New Urban Agenda. Through engagement with WUC, WIEGO made sure that informal workers’ priorities and needs were set out in the The City We Need—a manifesto for the collective vision of the Habitat III partners for sustainable cities.
Regional and Thematic Meetings
Side Events, Plenary Talks and Declarations at Regional and Thematic Meetings
In support of our partners, WIEGO regularly participated in the Habitat III regional and thematic meetings. Below, we share highlights of the Africa Regional Meeting, the Europe Regional Meeting, and the Informal Settlements Thematic Meeting.
Juliana Afari Brown, WIEGO Board Member and market trader, addresses plenary at PrepCom2
Africa Regional Meeting | 24-26 February 2016 | Abuja, Nigeria
The WIEGO delegation at the Africa Regional Meeting included representatives from the Federation of Informal Workers’ Organizations of Nigeria (FIWON), a national federation of 110 informal workers’ organizations operating across 17 states in Nigeria.
WIEGO participated as co-host to the Grassroots Stakeholder Forum, along with Huairou Commission, SDI, and FIWON, to represent the interests of informal workers. This grassroots-focused forum brought together women, informal settlement dwellers, and informal workers to share knowledge and experiences and identify shared priorities. We also co-hosted a panel with FIWON focusing on FIWON’s activities in the context of urban economic frameworks and development.
FIWON and WIEGO at the Africa Regional Meeting
Europe Regional Meeting | 16-18 March 2016 | Prague, Czech Republic
Along with the Huairou Commission and SDI, WIEGO hosted a side event during the Europe Regional Meeting entitled “Global Grassroots Lessons for Europe: Engaging Local Government for Participatory Governance and Inclusive Cities.” Street vendor and informal workers’ rights advocate Gloria Solorzano Espinoza of the National Self-Employed Workers’ Union of Peru spoke at this event.
WIEGO’s Victoria Okoye, along with representatives of partner organizations, also participated in a GAP joint side event called "The Straight Road to Habitat III: Part I. Decentralization and the New Urban Agenda.” This side event discussed policy measures promoting sustainability, decentralization tools, and activities for the New Urban Agenda, and evaluated the effectiveness of the stakeholders from the point of view of the NUA.
At the Europe Regional Meeting, Victoria Okoye, Pilar Balbuena and Gloria Solorzano Espinoza signal the presence of informal workers.
Public Spaces Thematic Meeting | 4-5 April 2016 | Barcelona, Spain
In Barcelona, Alison Brown, WIEGO advisor, was a speaker for the plenary session entitled “A New Urban Agenda for Combating Inequalities: Claiming for Public Spaces and a City for All.” Her presentation on public space and livelihoods emphasized the need for inclusive policies for street vendors instead of harassment and evictions. Below are the Power Point and the audio recording of her presentation.
Public Space and Livelihoods: View From the Street
Latin America & Caribbean Regional Meeting | April 18-20 | Toluca, Mexico
WIEGO team members Sonia Dias (Waste Sector Specialist) and Tania Espinosa (Latin America Coordinator of WIEGO’s Law Programme) participated in the Latin America and Caribbean Regional Meeting. Sonia spoke on the plenary session “Gender and Safe Cities for Women: Urban Interventions for the Prevention of Violence Dialogue.”
Informal Settlements Thematic Meeting | 7-8 April | Pretoria, South Africa
WIEGO’s Victoria Okoye was a speaker for the plenary session on “Financing informal Settlement/Slum Upgrading Contributing to Sustainable Livelihoods and Inclusive Economic Growth” at the Informal Settlements Meeting. She discussed financing for urban slum upgrades—also noting that, as the home is also a workplace, this would also be a livelihood upgrade—and brought attention to successful strategies used by partner organizations that might be replicated.
Learn more: WIEGO Urban Policies Policy Brief #1 “Approached to Basic Service Delivery for the Working Poor: Assessing the Impact of Mahila Housing Trust’s Parivartan Slum Upgrading Programme in Ahmedabad, India” by Sara Rusling (2010).
A view from the audience of the plenary session at the Informal Settlements Thematic Meeting.
WIEGO/SDI/Huairou Commission Side Event
WIEGO, SDI, and the Huairou Commission jointly hosted the side event “Informal Settlements as Productive Centres of Resident Organizing and Livelihoods.” The panellists included a representative from Huairou Commission, a waste picker and member of the South African Waste Pickers Association (part of the WIEGO network), and WIEGO’s Urban Advocacy Specialist Victoria Okoye. Panelists discussed the everyday challenges of being home-based workers, such lack of space for storage of materials and accessing savings or loans, among others.
See Victoria’s presentation, Informal Settlements, and excerpts from the panellists’ statements below.
Victoria stands with Rose Molokoane from Slum/Shack Dwellers International, who joined her on the panel for the Side Event.
Stakeholder Statements from the Side Event
Regional and Thematic Meeting Declarations
WIEGO contributed to the final declarations from the regional and thematic meetings, which are considered official inputs to the Habitat III process:
- Abuja Declaration (Africa Regional Meeting) English | French
- Barcelona Declaration (Public Spaces Thematic Meeting) English
- Pretoria Declaration (Informal Settlements Thematic Meeting) English
- Toluca Declaration (Latin America and Caribbean Regional Meeting) English | Spanish
New Urban Agenda adopted draft
General Assembly of Partners’ Partnership for the New Urban Agenda
World Urban Campaign’s The City We Need 2.0
Blog Posts and Backgrounders
Rhonda Douglas blog post: Implementing the New Urban Agenda
Sally Roever World Urban Campaign piece: The People’s Economy and the Future of Cities
Marty Chen Citiscope article: The New Urban Agenda must prompt planners to recognize informal labor
Citiscope backgrounder: What is Habitat III?
Citiscope backgrounder: What is the New Urban Agenda?