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Naples, the institutions should defend the right to the city of common goods, not the UNO-Habitat's WUF, which is eating up public spaces

40 days before the inauguration of the Urban Social Forum (USF) dedicated to the “right to the city of common goods ” as an alternative to UNO-Habitat's World Urban Forum (WUF),  the International Committee of the World Social Forum (IC WSF) has sent the institutions involved a strongly critical letter expressing its concern at the complete closure of spaces and the lack of collaboration with the USF.

With over 200 applications from every continent, including big international networks for the housing right, the USF is already a reality. So Naples, in September, won't only be the world centre of those who consider the “urban future ” from the viewpoint of the property speculation market which has caused the biggest crisis in its history, but also of civil society and movements struggling for the housing right.

Among the program's  initiatives are the opening dialogue between two leading experts from the movement for common goods – geographer David Harvey and the urbanist Edoardo Salzano, an internazional meeting  of “ housing debtors ”, the Evictions Tribunal, a visit from the United Nations' Special Rapporteur  on housing rights in popular neighbourhoods, an anti-speculation stroll along Bagnoli promenade, and an entire day's discussion on common goods - especially water and the struggle against privatisations - including those targeted by mafias. 

Therefore,  organisations which have helped to construct ”another possible world ” with Social Forums since Porto Allegre,  find the institutions' discriminatory treatment  incomprehensible. On the one hand UNO-Habitat's WUF can count on a public contribution of almost a million euros, the mobilisation of local institutions and on numerous sponsors, while the USF, up to now,  has had doors shut in its face by the city and the university.

That’s because, for bureaucratic reasons at first, and then increasingly openly, local institutions are offering public spaces to UNO-Habitat's WUF - given the exhorbitant prices for the Overseas Fair. What's happening ?

Why does the city of Naples, which in recent months has been a strong institutional focus for the movement for the defense of common goods, seem to be caving in to Habitat's proposals, a program already disgraced at the United Nations through its careless management by former director Tibajiuka? 

Why is the present director, Juan Clos, a former mayor of Barcelona, now trying to relaunch it with an umpteenth trade fair? Are local institutions really sure they are befitting the city by refusing spaces and dialogue with civil society and the USF's movements, for the profit of only a few?  Like all big events, the WUF will pass by, enriching some people while even the city of Naples will risk being left poorer and less democratic.

The USF is completely self-managed, self-financed and independent.  Unlike the WUF, it is not asking for money, but is only requesting institutions for help with the logistics, the organisation of initiatives in public spaces, and a reception for participants coming from different countries.

Therefore,  after underlining the importance of the appeal launched by the IC WSF,  the USF Committee is waiting for the institutions to finally accept a dialogue, and show that they are on the side of those inhabitants claiming the right to the city of common goods.

Enclosed: Letter to institutions from members of the IC WSF in support of the Urban Social Forum.

USF Organising Committee

C/o: occupied 3rd . Floor of Gravina Palace, Faculty of Architecture, via M. Oliveto, Naples.

info: info@forumsocialeurbanonapoli.org  – www.forumsocialeurbanonapoli.org  

cellphone. 3202363156


The Volunteer translator for housing rights without frontiers of IAI who has collaborated on the translation of this text was:

George Wright


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