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Final document of the Seminar workshop for the Conosur Subregion on urban poverty and civic security

United Nations Centre for Humans Settlements (UNCHS-HABITAT)
Practices and Local Leadership Programme (PMPL)

Ibero American and Caribbean Forum of Best Practices
Human Settlements for a more sustainable future

3, 4 and 5th November 1997
Cuesta Blanca, Cordoba, Argentina

Organized by El Agora

Counseling Committee

General Coordination
Claudia Laub

Technical Coordination
Mariel Ariaudo

Administrative Coordination
Olga Facucher and Adolfo Rittiner

Documents Production
Nora Gómez

Methodological Counsel
Liliana Kremer

Juan Dunayevich

Adhesions and sponsorship

The Participants

The Seminar of the South Cone sub-region summoned representatives from Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina. The participants were:

Those summoned were people with skills to detect, systematize, disseminate and/or evaluate best practices, especially those related with urban poverty and civic security.

Background for the meeting

The World Summit on Habitat (Habitat II) held in Istanbul in 1996 approved the Habitat Agenda or World Action Plan. This plan offers orientation on the activities that, under the slogan "For a better life in the XXIst century", would be advisable to implement on a national and international basis until the end of the second decade of the XXIst century.

This Plan includes a preamble and chapters in which goals and principles, commitments and concrete actions are analyzed. They are subdivided as follows:

  1. Adequate housing for everybody: identification of modalities for the incorporation of housing policies into economical, social and environmental policies...
  2. Sustainable development of human settlements in a world in process of urbanization, by means of sustainable use of the earth and adequate planning, social development: population and sustainable development of human settlements; human settlements environmentally sustainable, healthy and habitable...
  3. Fomentation of capacity and institutional development by means of decentralization and strengthening of local authorities and associations or networks; popular participation and civic commitment...
  4. International cooperation and coordination by means of an auspicious international context; funds and economical instruments; technology transference, information exchange and institutional cooperation...
  5. National and International application of the program; participation of local authorities and civil society, including the private sector...
  6. Follow-up: assessment of results, pointers and Best practices.

    Since Istanbul, the participating countries and institutions accepted the challenge of implementing the accomplished agreements and conversion of the proposals into concrete actions.

Program of Best Practices and Local Leadership Programme

In April 1994, understanding the value that implies the generalization of best practices in pursuit of a sustainable future for humanity, the Center of United Nations for Human Settlements (UNCHS - HABITAT) sets in motion the Program of Best Practices and Local Leadership (BLP). This program has as main objective to promote the search for innovative solutions to social, economical and environmental issues all over the world.

The creation of this program operates as a facilitator for the implementation of the HABITAT Agenda, through the exchange of knowledge and technical experiences compiled from ongoing and/or carried out projects; that is to say, from concrete practices that significantly impact on improving the life quality on human settlements.

The Best Practices initiative was conceived during the preparation process of Habitat II, in order to identify solutions to some of the main social, economical and environmental issues that today urge the world in its fast process of urbanization.

In May 1995, the Habitat Second Preparatory Committee adopts criteria for the determination of Best Practices and an information form unified to document initiatives. It is also established a schedule for Special Prizes, which in 1996 already had its first development in the Summit for the City Habitat II.

As an incentive to attract initiatives and recognize the efforts to improve the conditions of human settlements in 1996, a postulation of Best Practices was summoned. Its recognition was made concrete in the First international Prize for the improvement of life conditions. The 12 winning practices - out of 600 proposals - received their US$ 30.000 prize in Istanbul, during the development of Habitat II.

In February 1996, during the meeting of PREPCOM III in New York, the government of Spain declared its interest on helping to consolidate the PMPL in Latin America and the Caribbean. This was consolidated in an agreement of cooperation signed between the Spanish Ministry of Economic Development, The Spanish Agency of International Cooperation (AECI) and the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (UNCHS - HABITAT).

The establishment of an Ibero American and Caribbean Forum of Best Practices and the possibility to develop activities - this Seminar - Workshop is one of them - is sustained by a donation for that purpose by the Spanish AECI. The first step for the establishment of this forum was taken in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) by means of the first preparatory meeting in May 1997, organized by the IBAM (Brazilian Institute of Municipal Administration). The IBAM plays the rol of Regional Center of the BLP in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The Forum's main objective is to promote a network for the exchange and transfer of information, experience and technical specialization derived from the different practices. The final purpose is to create an exchange base north-south, south-south and north-south for urban solutions.

The forum will focus on the analysis of current practices and new initiatives, with an aim on extracting learnt lessons and promoting the transfer of those lessons through exchange, formation and creation of activities for the development of local leaders.
In order to facilitate the accomplishment of these objectives, The Forum established a secretariat ad interim with seat in HABITAT (Brazil), and subregional nodes. Activities for the consolidation of the Forum were programmed at the meeting in Rio; that is how the subregional seminars of communication, analysis and exploration of transfer capacity of already listed Best Practices appeared. In the framework of this work program, the Argentinean ONG EL AGORA was proposed as subregional node for the South Cone (Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina) to carry out this Seminar.
It is also seek, in parallel, to gain attention from the communication and opinion media, so as to promote the objectives of the Program of Best Practices and to launch the 1998 prize summons.

Thematic of the Workshop-Seminar for the South Cone Subregion

For the development of the Seminar for the South Cone Subregion, two subjects have been given priority:
From this axes it will be attempted to contribute for the accomplishment of a "better life quality for human settlements".

Urban poverty and civic security are critical issues of our time. The future of our cities - environment where most of humanity will live on the next century - depends on our successful confrontation to these challenges.

The fundamental problems of urban life are each day more complex, and the social tissue of most cities presents itself each time more fragmented and stratified. This turns cities into spaces highly vulnerable to violence, isolation and loss of security of both people and human groups inhabiting it.

The struggle against urban poverty and the achievement of safer cities are challenges that compromise the whole of humanity. To successfully overcome these issues we need to rely on the experience of those individuals and organizations compromised with the achievement of a better life quality, with respect for differences, with equity, with social integration, creating networks and building new solidarity. These are issues that concern us all, and we can all participate by bringing possible solutions.

In the last decade it is manifest in our region the quali-quantitative growth of poverty, and the society tissue seems to disappear at a trace always faster. These situations make an unfavorable impact on the life quality of human settlements. In this context, it is necessary to redefine the local, individual and personal content of security.

Security, understood as a public asset, requires services linked to the demands and responsibility of citizens. From this perspective, it is closely related to human rights, constitutional law, civil and administrative law, to the way in which individuals and organizations react to transgressions, to the way of transmitting conflicts to the police or to justice, and to the options selected to overcome them.

The city is a good place to recognize and confront those issues related to people's security; and the construction of a civic ethics, social participation and the legitimacy of institutions to solve conflicts and obtain greater consensus are in the base of policies against violence

Violence is built and activated when exclusion is produced: exclusion from the system of belonging, retaining, identity, from the system that holds a member to his group, his community, and his country. Therefore, inclusion becomes the fundamental significant that represents the movement of linkage with the law, culture, interpersonal relationships, and symbolic order. It is an indicator of mental health.

Therefore, and in order to understand security issues - urban insecurity - it is necessary to comprehend and make explicit the meaning and consequences of the processes of exclusion and social segregation and, from that point on, imagine improvement mechanisms and strategies. The point that allows us to articulate the axis: urban poverty and civic security are the layout of security as a collective asset.

Poverty is not a cause of violence rather than part of it: the most disfavored sectors of the population also suffer the consequences of criminal action: further more, they are the main victims for police violence, an element that greatly contributes to the feeling of civic insecurity.

It is a mistake to outline the thematic of security exclusively associated to the care and protection of some sectors' material assets. It is illusory to suppose the elite will be protected if all the inhabitants of a city do not feel protected.

The inclusion of all social sectors as beneficiaries of security is an important item to be taken into account when designing public policies of integration to the citizenship; policies to which the private initiative and civil society organizations should also contribute.

The great challenge for achieving equity resides then in rescuing a social project and renovating the political system by deepening the practice of democracy. As Jorge Casta.eda says, "Democracy will not solve all the problems by itself, but without it there are no solutions".

The treatment of the subjects urban poverty and civic security in the framework of this Seminar Workshop pointed to focus our "magnifying glasses" on the search of demonstrative experiences developed in our region around this problems. Also, to stimulate their diffusion, to promote reflecting on the actions we have been able to generate, and to build new solidarity.

Objectives of the Seminar Workshop for the South Cone Subregion

Development of the Seminar - Workshop for the Subregion

Monday, November 3rd

The Opening

After the reception and accreditation of the participants coming from Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina, the Seminar Workshop for the South Cone Subregion began. In the opening there were present representatives from the municipalities of Cordoba, Villa Maria and Buenos Aires and from the commune of Cuesta Blanca. There also participated representatives from the Chamber of representatives of the Argentinean Nation.
The opening words were in charge of Claudia Laub, President of El Agora - the institution organizing the meeting. Lic. Laub welcomed the participants and settled the development of the seminar, referring to the selected subjects and El Agora's methodology as an ONG that propitiates open dialog and the development of Forums, specially related to civic security and the construction of citizenship. She considered these issues as fundamental for the democratic consolidation en the South Cone region.
    After the opening of the Seminar Workshop, its first activity began.

The panel "Refreshing the Istanbul 96 compromises on promotion of Best Practices"

The following people were panelists, representatives of organisms and entities related with the Seminar's thematic:

Mr. Stephen Walsh, as representative of the Secretariat of the Ibero American and Caribbean Forum (HABITAT LAC), referred to the backgrounds of the meeting and explained the range of the Seminar for the South Cone Subregion in the context of the Ibero American and Caribbean Forum. He stressed the objectives of the forum and the meeting's agenda for the other nodes, which will end by the end of November with the Forum meeting in Cali. For this he invited the participants to put forward ideas and advise that will be part of the Final Document of the above mentioned meeting.

The SEHAS representative, Marta Baima de Borri commented on her participation in the Commission that had in charge the preparation of the Report that the ONGs from Argentina presented in HABITAT II (Istanbul). She also made an analysis on the contents and follow up of the HABITAT Agenda in Argentina.

Mister Pedro Plaza spoke on behalf of the Union of Base Organizations for Social Rights, and referred to his experience in Istanbul as a very profitable experience that he was able to transmit to the other leaders of Base organizations he coordinates. He asked for a further follow up of the HABITAT Agenda by the Governments, and he hoped for this meeting to contribute to the recognition of practices that many sectors are carrying out on the subject of urban poverty and civic security.

Once the subjects related to the HABITAT Agenda were outlined, and after the public could acquaint with its reach by questioning the panelists, the first part of the Panel was declared finished to then introduce the guests that exposed on civic security.

Lily Ann Gauthier, representative for the International Center for Crime Prevention, outlined a short panorama of the CIPC objectives, which has as fundamental goal to help cities and countries to reduce delinquency, violence and insecurity by focusing international know how on prevention. She remarked that in the last few years, the concept of best practices is growing a reputation as a solid tool for optimizing resources. In this context, the CIPC decides to create its office of Best Practices, with the aim of identifying, organizing and disseminating successful experiences on prevention. They have just published a recompilation entitled "The Hundred Best Practices throughout the world". The book gathers practices that turn out to be successful in reducing insecurity, violence and criminality. Its diffusion tries to stimulate the multiplication of successful experiences as an invitation to overcome indifference.

"The integration of security to policies of development" was the title for the paper by Michael Marcus, representative for the European Forum of Civic Security. He stated that today it is necessary for the policies of insecurity reduction to appear as essential components to policies of development. He also pointed out that the implementation of this policies should integrate the concept of democracy in their most nearby, definite expressions so they can be visualized by the citizens as a concrete answer to their everyday problems. An important part of social development contributes to the reduction of insecurity; therefore, it is necessary to elaborated policies more focused on the dissuasion and repression of delinquency. Most poor sectors of our society are often given responsibility for being the main generators of civic insecurity; but this concept does not contemplate that these sectors are also victims of urban violence. Security, considered as a common asset, becomes a joint patrimony of society; therefore, it is the whole of society that should recognize and legitimate the norms defined or controlled by the public authority. He referred to the concept of "governance" of safety to declare that its accomplishment is subject to a series of actions that involve not only civil society but also different state services, and requires the articulation of all sectors in government. Security is therefore co-produced. And its co-production is conceived and set in motion in the bosom of a process of coordination on different scales and diverse levels of importance. He finished by defining the contents of a local policy of security, and pointed out the following issues: to provide people with security, to make spaces safer, to regulate conflicts and strengthen the application of the law.

As a closing for the activities of the first day, Mr. Miguel Angel Carrillo, from the Spanish Ministry of Economic Development, settled the actions of the Ibero American and Caribbean Forum in the context of the HABITAT Agenda. He pointed out the objectives that lead it beyond the program for Best Practices, stressing the reach of the slogan "Human settlements for a sustainable future". He declared that the conclusions from this seminar would be incorporated to the general Plan of the Forum in the next meeting in Cali, and he suggested that the participants elaborate proposals to provide the initiated actions with continuity. He also considered highly recommendable the creation of a Secretariat for the South Cone, which might serve as link and a dynamizer for the Forum between the countries that conform the subregion.

Tuesday, November 4th

Sharing experiences

This title was the premise for working during the morning of the Seminar's second day. The activity consisted on the presentation of practices related to urban poverty and civic security. The main objective of this activity was centered not only in the need to stimulate a movement of exchange between the authors of the practices, but also and fundamentally in the generation of a process of reflection and reciprocal formation that allows an elucidation of its sense. And thus, to understand how could they be articulated to each other, which are the common axes that go through them, which are their possibilities of generalization onto other sectors and countries, all this settled in the perspective of creating a South Cone network for this purpose.

It is explained to the participants that the selection of these 9 practices to be presented does not answer to criteria of "best" practice but, simply, there have been chosen two by country, which will be presented in two stages.
In the first one 4 practices were presented (one for each country participant in the meeting) related to the diminishing of civic insecurity. These were:

After this first round of presentations, the dialog is stimulated between the participants whom, from different perspectives, start to produce interesting comments. One of the main subjects that appear in this conversation is the relation between the processes of decentralization that are taking place in the bosom of the different governmental estates (national, provincial, and municipal) and its repercussion on the conditions and possibilities for community participation.

In the second stage of this activity, the experiences exposed are more related to the thematic of urban poverty and the strategies to diminish it. 5 practices were presented:

The presentation allowed for an interesting dialog among all participants, and beyond those practices selected for their exposition, all those attending could report their experiences and talk about the proposed thematic, thus richening the framework proposed as a point of departure for the development of the Seminar - Workshop.

Building commitments for the future

With the purpose to follow the recommendations made by the integrants of the Ibero American and Caribbean Forum, Stephen Walsh and Miguel Angel Carrillo, on the need to act in pursuit of the institutionalization of the South Cone Region looking out on a more fluent participation in the framework of the Forum, two work commissions were organized which had as specific objectives to elaborate proposals on the following subjects:
Structure of the subregion, Contents and thematic cores, Financing strategies and outline of a schedule for next year.
After a fruitful exchange of ideas they join in Plenary and then both groups present their proposals, which in most cases agree.

  1. With regard to structure: It was determined that there is a will to actively participate in the Ibero American and Caribbean Forum, assuming the conformation of the South Cone subregion. An open, flexible structure is proposed, which counts with a Technical Secretariat serving as dynamizer for the actions of the forum in the region, and supported by the work of 4 principal referrals (one for each participating country).

  2. In relation with the contents and thematic cores it is deemed necessary to have more time for the elaboration of this item; but everybody agrees on the subjects of community participation, building of citizenship and the strengthening of articulation between institutions as three key, priority issues in the region.

  3. The subject of Financing took the groups to evaluate the contributions that the organisms here represented can make for supporting undertaken actions. Contributions were listed on terms of human capital, infrastructure and technical support, diffusion of a repertoire of institutions and organisms that develop social practices on the subjects we have an interest on promoting.

  4. For the schedule of following actions it is established the need to hold 4 meetings in 1998, one on each country, and the creation of the South Cone Best Practices prize is proposed.

The representative for the Spanish Ministry of Economic Development, Mr. Miguel Angel Carrillo, acknowledges the results of the work in commissions and subscribes the proposals.

Wednesday, November 5th

Agreements and commitments

Last day's work was focused on the elaboration of the Final Report for the Seminar of the South Cone subregion, which will be submitted to the Ibero American and Caribbean Forum for Best Practices as a contribution to the meeting in Cali.
These conclusions and the mailing of all participants are reproduced next.

The Seminar Workshop ended leaving its participants with the feeling of having participated in a meeting supported by an ambiance of openness and good-fellowship. The informal meetings occurred during breaks also contributed to this collective creation where humor, singing and chatting allowed to shorten distances and tighten bonds between intervening institutions and represented countries.

Conclusions of the Seminar Workshop for the South Cone Subregion of the Ibero American and Caribbean Forum of Best Practices

The participants, representatives of ONGs, Municipalities, Associations, Universities and Base Organizations of Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay, state:

  1. The will to participate of the IBERO AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN FORUM trough the SOUTH CONE NETWORK.

  2. The SOUTH CONE NETWORK will have as main purpose to support appropriation by the citizens of the contents developed in the Habitat Agenda. Also, it will contribute to the promotion and follow up of commitments engaged by the governments in the Habitat Agenda.

  3. The generation of strategies also concerns the SOUTH CONE NETWORK:
    1. for civic participation to make human settlements more "livable", healthier and sustainable;
    2. for recovering the sense of identity of people towards their settlements;
    3. for appropriation of public spaces;
    4. for strengthening the control of the citizen over public and private administration of his/her habitat;
    5. for solidarity between different human settlements

We assume as valid mechanisms to carry out the above mentioned:
We agreed on the following coordination structure for the SOUTH CONE NETWORK:
Our purpose for the first year is to carry out the following activities:
To make possible the functioning of the SOUTH CONE NETWORK, in the framework of the IBERO AMERICAN FORUM, and for the development of the first year's program:

Cuesta Blanca, Province of Cordoba, Argentina, on the fifth day of November of 1997.

Documentos > Foros > Foro Iberoamericano y del Caribe sobre Mejores Prácticas >
Ciudades para un Futuro más Sostenible
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Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid Universidad Politécnica de Madrid
Grupo de Investigación en Arquitectura, Urbanismo y Sostenibilidad
Departamento de Estructuras y Física de la EdificaciónDepartamento de Urbanística y Ordenación del Territorio