Self-made cities

In search of sustainable solutions for informal settlements in the united nations economic commission for europe region

image of Self-made cities
Informal settlements are often characterized as “illegal” residential formations lacking basic infrastructure, security of tenure and adequate housing. This book describes how more than 50 million people in the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) region have come to live in informal settlements and examines the main characteristics of the phenomenon. It also provides policy recommendations based on case studies and initiatives implemented in the region, with varying degrees of success. It concludes that there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution, as informal settlements are the product of complex socio-political processes that differ significantly from country to country and from region to region.

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Policy principles and guidelines

In general, the problems of informal settlements in countries in transition have not been systematically addressed and responsibilities remain fragmented. Informal settlements and residents have often been neglected in the broader urban and social development practices. Some communities in informal settlements have opted for self-organization, these initiatives being often backed up by the media, local governments, international organizations and NGOs. While these cases may be limited, the process of self-organization has had many positive outcomes. Currently, however, there is a global call for urgent yet sustainable interventions for informal settlements. Governments are translating relevant global strategies into specific national contexts. Higher-level government is increasingly seen as a key enabler of change with respect to informal settlements. There is also a commitment to ensure equal access to basic human rights as well as fairness in wealth redistribution and poverty reduction. Public-private partnerships are often at the centre of decisionmaking. A strong tendency towards mobilizing local skills and knowledge can also be noted.

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