Intersections of #TheCityWeNeed, the #NewUrbanAgenda and #UrbanLivelihoods. Join the discussion during the next Twitter chat on 16 January 2018 with WIEGO’s Sonia Dias.

Intersections of #TheCityWeNeed, the #NewUrbanAgenda and #UrbanLivelihoods. Join the discussion during the next Twitter chat on 16 January 2018 with WIEGO’s Sonia Dias.

The New Urban Agenda mentions the Right to the City as an important paradigm for tackling urban issues. As David Harvey points out, the Right to the City is about having the right to be part of the city but also the right to envision and demand a new one. In this sense, we examine the claims of informal workers such as street vendors and waste pickers to envision public spaces as settings where they can earn their livelihoods.

A majority of the world’s workers today work in the informal economy. For many of these workers access to public space is critical. Informal work often takes place in cramped, crowded or hazardous conditions, and frequently spills over into the public realm. Street trading, informal transport operators, waste picking and informal recycling are some of the most visible examples of informal work in public spaces. For urban planners, the crucial problem is that none of these activities fall within the neat categorization of the land use classes and zoning regulations associated with modern views of city planning, and within the ideas of what modern urban solid waste systems look like. How can we challenge these paradigms to conceptualize more pro-poor urban planning paradigms and what is the relationship of such endeavors to the New Urban Agenda?

WIEGO is a global network focused on securing livelihoods for the working poor, especially women, in the informal economy. Informal workers need voice, visibility, and validity. WIEGO creates change by building capacity among informal worker organizations, expanding the knowledge base, and influencing local, national and international policies.

Sonia Dias WIEGO’s Waste Sector Specialist, a sociologist by training, Sonia refers to herself as a “garbologist” and specializes in solid waste management. Sonia has been active in the field in Brazil since 1985 with a focus on promoting the integration of social inclusion aspects into the technical planning of waste collection and recycling. Through graduate and master’s studies, she has delved deeply into the role of participation in solid waste management in Brazil and the role of the local governments in strengthening waste pickers' organizations in Belo Horizonte City. Her on-the-ground experience includes work as a public officer at the Municipal Cleansing Agency in Belo Horizonte, voluntary work for the NGO INSEA supporting the organization of waste pickers, and social activism for the Waste and Citizenship Fora. From the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Sonia has attained a Master’s of Human Geography on the role of local governments in strengthening waste pickers’ organizations in Belo Horizonte and a Ph.D. in Political Science on the role of participation in solid waste management in Brazil. She is currently linked pro-bono as an associate researcher with the Women’s Centre for Research and Studies with NEPEM/UFMG.

During the Twitter chat, the following 6 questions will be asked from the World Urban Campaign and Sonia Dias:

  • Q1 In the context of growing inequalities worldwide, the livelihoods and quality of life for low-income groups and deprived urban areas must be a priority for all public, private, and social actors in #TheCityWeNeed. How can such actors be mobilized to take action?
  • Q2 How do you see the claims of informal workers such as #streetvendors & #wastepickers to envision #publicspaces as settings to earn their livelihoods & its connection with the #RightToTheCity concept, so they can also be part of #TheCityWeNeed.
  • Q3 The #NewUrbanAgenda outlines the commitment to recognizing the contribution of the working poor in the informal economy, and notes that their livelihoods should be enhanced. What can governments do improve the lives of informal workers?
  • Q4 How can we challenge the notion of world-class cities (for example: neat categorizations of land use & zoning regulations) so that cities adopt more pro-poor urban planning paradigms? And how does it relate to the #NewUrbanAgenda and #TheCityWeNeed?
  • Q5 The #GlobalGoals #SDG11 wants to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. What role can informal workers play to make this goal a reality?
  • Q6 The “Call for Action” at the #NewUrbanAgenda states that “…We affirm that the New Urban Agenda is universal in scope, participatory and people-centered.” But can the #NewUrbanAgenda really raise the visibility, validity, and voice of informal workers and if yes, how?

Follow @urbancampaign and @soniawiego to join the conversations around #TheCityWeNeed on 16 January 2018!