The newsletter of the International Group on Law and Urban Space |
Montréal Declaration: Metropolitan areas key to sustainable urbanization

'Mayors, elected officials, international organizations and civil society groups issued a declaration this week on the importance of metropolitan areas in sustainable urbanization, the first such document offered as formal input to the Habitat III process.

The declaration was finalized during an intensive two-day “thematic meeting” here presided over by Denis Coderre, the mayor of Montréal and president of the Montréal Metropolitan Community. Delegates debated the parameters of metropolitan areas and their role in the New Urban Agenda, the two-decade urbanization strategy that will come out of next year’s Habitat III conference in Quito, Ecuador.'

Read more here

Phd, Urban Law
Institute for Advanced Legal Studies (IALS),
University of London


The Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS), in partnership with the United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-Habitat), invite applications for a research degree (MPhil/PhD) studentship at IALS in this area of urban law. 

Research proposals should fall within the priority theme Urban Legislation, Land and Governance or any legal topic related to the New Urban Agenda and the proposed Sustainable Development Goal 11. 

For more information, click here.


IRGLUS is highly dependent on its members. As such, we welcome contributions from our members. This could range from short vignettes, to photography, news and events.

We will contact various members directly to ask for these contributions, but if you would like to contribute to the next newsletter, please feel free to contact us.

We also welcome feedback on this newsletter, as well as the other initiatives we have implemented to give IRGLUS a stronger virtual institutional basis. 
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As yet another year draws to a close, we welcome you to this edition of the IRGLUS newsletter.  In this issue, Thomas Coggin contributes a vignette on the recent "Eco-mobility" festival which took place during the month of October in Johannesburg, which has certainly forced many of the workers and residents in Sandton, the city's prime business district, to re-evaluate the manner in which they go about their daily business.

IRGLUS' membership keeps growing, and reflects an increasing diversity of interests and expertise.  We would once again like to remind members that they can use this newsletter to profile their work, and also to promote any relevant research events, publications or activities.  We also remain on the lookout for short, topical vignettes on any topic that may be of interest to our members.

We wish you all the best for the remainder of 2015, and look forward to engaging with you again in the new year.

Thomas Coggin and Marius Pieterse
Global Co-ordinators


EcoMobility Month – Beyond the window shield?
Thomas Coggin
The month of October 2015 saw the streets of Sandton, Johannesburg turn into an ‘EcoMobility Festival’. Designed to entice car-using Joburgers out of their private motor vehicles and on the street and various forms of public transport, the EcoMobility Festival at the very least has inculcated a discussion regarding the state and desirability of the public sphere.
This is particularly important in a city like Johannesburg, one that has been characterised historically by disinvestment in mass public transport, and relatively unchecked suburban sprawl. Combined with perceptions of crime in the city, this has resulted in a debilitating mistrust of the public sphere, and the consequence is that the city tends to be designed more for the (locked, tracked) private motor vehicle user, and less so for the pedestrian or public transport user.
EcoMobility aims to highlight the benefits to the city of a vibrant spatial environment serviced by efficient public transport. Aside from the perhaps somewhat obvious benefits this would have in terms of guaranteeing a right to a sustainable environment – protected in terms of the South African Constitution – there are other rights-based benefits to the users of a city that can arise from a festival that priorities alternative modes of transport, such as EcoMobility.
If we think about transport, we begin to understand the importance of it in claiming a right to the city. It allows us to appropriate spaces that are not always available or accessible to those without access to transport. It allows us to have the relative luxury of choosing where we inhabit the city, and why we seek to inhabit the spaces we do. It allows us to access a range of socio-economic rights, such as healthcare and education, both of which are central to our ability to inhabit the city. By emphasising the role of public transport, the city recognises the need to reform a spatial environment that is preferential to those who cannot afford access to a private motor vehicle.
Beyond this, however, the city’s dependence on the private motor vehicle is not conducive to creating spaces of encounter, difference, and discovery. Those who do not have access to the private motor vehicle are forced to navigate the city through a network of pedestrian-unfriendly sidewalks and traffic intersections, while those who do have access glide through such spaces in ways that are separated from the other. The city becomes one defined by division (between those in a car, and those on the street), rather than one wherein our spatial interactions with one another facilitate a space defined by an equality of access.
South Africa’s Constitution is predicated on the notion of transformative constitutionalism, in which rights are used and haggled over in an attempt to redress the social ramifications of apartheid. One of the most invasive consequences in this regard has been the effect of apartheid spatial planning on the shape of the South African city today, which continues to take form along the lines of racial and class divides.
It is unlikely that EcoMobility Month will undo these patterns of spatial inequality, certainly not immediately. But it does have the ability to make us look beyond the car window shield towards the public realm, and importantly, to question why we remain seated behind the wheel of the private motor vehicle, and what this may mean for the broader city fabric, both now and in the future.

Geography 2050: Exploring our future in an urbanized world

In 2014, the American Geographical Society (AGS) mounted an “Expedition to the Future”, and a topic that prominently recurred through much of the dialog was “urbanization.” An ever increasing proportion of the world’s population will dwell in urban areas by 2050, even as the world’s total population swells by billions. The geographies of our urban habitats are poised to change radically by 2050, and the implications of this for local, regional, and global decision makers are significant and paramount to our well-being. The spatial-temporal processes and patterns that will reshape our cities – and the rest of the planet - are many and interrelated, and will manifest differently in different places over time. In short, there is no single “urban habitat” and it is imperative that we, as a global society, understand the variety and interconnectedness of the world’s towns, cities and mega-cities as they evolve by 2050

The AGS Fall Symposium brings together leaders in business, government, science, and education that might not otherwise have the opportunity to interact, and provide opportunities for discussion, debate, and collaboration to further the understanding of the future of our cities

For more information, see the Geography 2050 website.

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