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Housing justice as a pathway for transformative urban futures: reflecting through experiences from cities in the global South. 
Alexandre Apsan Frediani (International Institute for Environment and Development)
Rodrigo Faria G. Iacovini (Instituto Pólis)
Beth Chitekwe-Biti (SDI)
Camila Cocina (Ciudad Comum)
Gautam Bhan (Indian Institute for Human SettlementsII)
Friday 8 July, 11:00-11:40 (UTC+1)

Short Abstract:

The global housing crisis is not only hindering people’s capabilities to live fulfilling lives, but it is also generating urban development lock-ins that reproduce social and environmental injustices, deepening inequalities and compromising the ability of cities to respond to the climate emergency. This workshop aims to discuss about how the notion and practice of housing justice can play a role in addressing this challenge.

Long Abstract

Access to adequate and secure housing for all is critical to ensure urban development is more equitable and sustainable. We know, however, that most housing policies and practices are not addressing the pervasive and persistent nature of housing discrimination, whereby particular groups are systematically excluded from housing opportunities. Currently, 1.6 billion people (20% of the world’s population) “live in inadequate, crowded and unsafe housing.” Recent studies have shown how housing has become increasingly unaffordable, as housing prices are growing faster than people’s incomes*. Housing injustice intersects with a variety of other challenges including environmental injustice (as people in poor housing are also exposed to environmental hazards and impacts of the climate emergency), health (including the well-documented connections between housing and the COVID-19 crisis) and access to livelihoods. Furthermore, current dominant housing policy and practices have been playing a key role in generating socially and environmentally unjust lock-ins in urban development pathways, deepening historically marginalised groups’ exposure to social and environmental risks and triggering social-spatial segregation in cities.


Advancing the right to adequate housing is a key pathway to make urban development more environmentally and socially just. On-going debates about housing justice have emphasised the importance of housing as a human right, as an end in itself, recognised in international and national agendas, commitments and obligations by governments. At the same time, promoting the right to adequate housing is a key conduit to respect, protect and fulfil other human rights in urban areas, such as the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment.

This workshop aims to contribute to this debate by facilitating conversations around the following three questions: What is housing justice and how does it related to existing understandings and practices associated to the recognition, protection and fulfilment of the right to adequate housing? What are the linkages and relationship between the advancement of housing justice and the production of more equitable and sustainable pathways for urban development? And finally, what can we learn from tactics and practices have been approaching housing justice as means to build transformative urban futures?

The session will start with a plenary introduction framing of debate, exploring some of key aspects associated to the connection between housing justice and transformative urban development. This will be followed by breakout dialogue led by discussants, addressing these three questions. To get conversations going, discussants will start their break-out sessions through an example of an on-going housing justice struggle they have been part of. The workshop will finalise with a plenary feed-back session, aimed to discuss key issues and define a collective agenda for future research and action in this field.