10 years of the Right to the City Forum: What’s next for the urban social movements?
Involve more people, grow stronger, winning struggles together
“What next for the right to the city?” was the title of the invitation to a nationwide meeting of urban activist groups in Kassel in April 2015. After an initial high of struggles against gentrification and for a right to the city from the end of the 2000s, a place for reflection, exchange of experience and knowledge transfer was needed. Kassel was the initiation of the Right to the City Forum, since then taking place in a different German city every year. After Cologne, Frankfurt, Leipzig, Hamburg, Weimar (or online), Bonn, Jena and Oberhausen, the tenth anniversary will be celebrated in Berlin from 7 to 9 June 2024. All activists and urban activist groups are invited, those who have helped shape past Right to the City Forums as well as people/groups taking part for the first time: Send us suggestions for workshops!
Taking a look back for the anniversary — and what next?
Behind the tenth Right to the City Forum there are many years of urban activism in various cities with small and large successes. They point to the central importance of the urban environment as a place of encounter and debate. By mobilising for demonstrations and actions, and by organising numerous tenants and neighbours in local struggles, we have created an important basis for political practice over the years. Based on this experience, networks and alliances were forged with other social movements, trade unions and associations, which contributed to the development of innovative ideas and stimulating debates. How can low rents be combined with an alternative organisation of housing provision? What does the socialisation of housing and energy companies mean for the re-municipalisation of urban spaces? How do we design feminist and climate-friendly cities that serve as places of solidarity and arrival? In numerous referendums, we have shown that we can achieve social majorities in favour of this. Last but not least, the Right to the City Forums were a significant place to pass on knowledge and transfer strategies from one city to another.
Despite these successes, a sense of gloom is setting in: Much of what has been fought for is only of limited duration or scope. Many local governments are not responsive to our demands, and even if they manage to take up our ideas, implementation is often delayed, watered down or reversed. Despite all the protests, federal politicians are pursuing a construction policy that favours the wealthy, the property industry and investors. They are largely ignoring social urban development, rent control and progressive housing policies and forcing the dismantling of local infrastructures with their austerity policies. Apart from a few shining examples, resignation is setting in. Although the housing, care and climate crises and the shift to the right continue to worsen, it seems to be becoming increasingly difficult to mobilise for the right to the city.
So how should the urban policy movement continue? How can we expand our understanding of the right to the city in order to become more, stronger and more diverse and win new battles? To discuss these questions, the 10th Right to the City Forum aims to create a common space for political discussion that will develop common goals, demands and strategies for the urban political movement from the exchange of knowledge about local struggles, also beyond the topic of housing. As always, the forum is open in terms of topics: From climate and care crisis to public space and transport to housing and everything you want to include under a right to the city. We welcome all suggestions for workshops and we especially invite people to our anniversary who would like to participate in the urban struggle for the first time!
You shape the Right to the City Forum
We also aim for each workshop to be offered jointly by several groups from different cities — if you can already submit a joint proposal, great. Otherwise, please get in touch with us if we can help you find partners. If you can’t find anyone, feel free to submit a proposal first and we will have a look at the overview of all proposals to see what might work well together — in consultation with you, of course.
Your preparation group
of the Right to the City Forum 2024 in Berlin