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Naples welcomes the Urban Social Forum: residents standing up for common goods!

More than 40 initiatives have been planned in the framework of the Urban Social Forum, which will be held during the first week of September, turning Naples into the world capital of the struggles for the right of residents to common goods, providing a real alternative to the World Urban Forum organized by the UN-Habitat, which is just another trade fair selling out the future of cities hit by the crisis.
The promoting committee of the Urban Social Forum, which includes the main international networks advocating the right to housing, as well as local and national organizations, has already won the challenge of organizing a completely self-managed and self-sustaining Forum.

The city will welcome the participants on the 2nd of September, during the visits to the Scampia and Giugliano neighbourhoods, with the participation of Raquel Rolnik, Special Rapporteur of the United Nations for the right to housing, who will acknowledge the constant violations to this right suffered by the residents of these low-income neighbourhoods, especially the lowest income households and the members of the Roma minority.

The rest of the week will see the Forum entirely dedicated to the creation of a platform to discuss experiences of struggle and alternative points of view, carrying out an analysis of the mechanisms causing the destruction of neighbourhoods, i.e. land speculation, land grabbing and privatization of common goods, all issues brought about by the wrong solutions to the crisis offerred by the neoliberal vision.

These topics will be debated during the first meeting, which will be held on the 3rd of September. During the meeting, Edoardo Salzano (Italy), the founder of the urbanist school Eddyburg.it and Dimitri Roussopoulos, an activist in the forefront for the defence of the right to housing, will discuss with the audience the core idea underlying the activities of the USF, i.e., the rights of residents in cities defending common goods. Cities, lands and public services which should not be for sale for the sake of budget policies because they are part of a social heritage which must be made available for and responsibly managed by everybody.

Following this, a workshop will debate the issues related to evictions and land grabbing, themes that the Tribunal-Rally held at the Fiera d'Oltremare will bring to the attention of the UN-Habitat, since this agency has decided to exclude these themes from the official debate of the World Urban Forum.

Residents are standing up for their rights, in cities and countryside, resisting attacks against their neighbourhoods by neoliberal globalization.

Not only resistance, but also real alternatives. The workshops on cooperatives and social housing, in fact, will provide an interesting insight on a more responsible approach to housing, and, in the framework of these events, the proposal concerning the creation of popular funds financed with the resources recovered from the payment of sovereign debt of countries hit hardest by the crisis will also be put forward.

Defending common goods, committing to the defence of water, sea, soil and beaches, is going to be the heart of the initiatives (debates, round tables, videos and a walk by the seaside between Bagnoli and Coroglio) of the USF.

A joint declaration signed by the associations of residents, social movements, international networks, drafted taking into account the proposals put forward during the Forum and taking a critical stance against the document prepared by the World Urban Forum of the UN-Habitat agency will be approved during the plenary session held on the 6th of September and will therefore be presented during the demonstration which will cover the streets between the two antagonistic forums (the demonstration will end near the Fiera d'Oltremare).

Last, but not least, the main actors of the Urban Social Forum will meet on the 7th of September to outline the timetable of the upcoming events, such as the World Days for Zero Evinctions and for the Right to Housing, which will be celebrated in October, and the next World Assembly of Inhabitants, which will be held in the framework of the World Social Forum in Tunis, from 23rd to 28th March 2013.


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