The November - December edition of the IRGLUS Newsletter
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The newsletter of the International Group on Law and Urban Space |
Public Parks - Gardens of Private Wealth?

IRGLUS's Facebook feed is kept up to date on a regular basis with news and opinion pieces relating to the law and urban space.

One of the opinion pieces uploaded during the past two months was an opinion piece written by John Gapper in the Financial Times, in which he warns against the building of public parks as mere wealth creation schemes. Rather, Gapper suggests that as with other public-private partnerships, the public has to benefit.

What do you think? Feel free to comment on this Facebook thread.

In September, a number of IRGLUS members were present at a UN Habitat Expert Group Meeting in Barcelona on Planning City Extensions. The outcome of this meeting can be found by clicking here.

The Latin American Initiative, under the coordination of Antonio Azuela, started the project called "Jueces y ciudades" (of "Judges and Cities"). In August, the Environmental Ombudsman of Mexico City sponsored a meeting in Mexico City in which six scholars from South America and eight Mexican scholars discussed their research results during three days. A book is being edited with the support of PAOT that will be published next year.

UN-Habitat is promoting a new urban planning paradigm that calls for planning in advance at the scale of expected development of cities with a better integration of urban uses - housing, business, retail, recreation, education, agricultural, amongst others.

Overall mass housing in today's world does not conform to the norms of sustainable urbanism. Given the magnitude of the existing characteristics above and the continuation of mass housing trends in some places today, there is an urgent need to address these challenges now.

The purpose of this competition is to address the issues of mass housing through proposals to revitalize a mass housing locality in one's respective city. A prize will be given to the best competitor or competing team from each of the seven geographic regions with the aim of providing some seed funding to initiate the implementation of the winning proposal in the respective city and locality. 

Deadline for submission: January 31st, 2014

For more information, consult
IRGLUS on Facebook

Seasons of Urban Discontent

The year is quickly drawing to a close as we welcome you to this, the third edition of the IRGLUS newsletter. It comes to you from a rainy Johannesburg, where the life of the late President Nelson Mandela is currently being remembered and celebrated, and where the city is recovering from two months of unlawful action taken by the Metropolitan Municipality against informal traders, highlighting once again the many tensions inherent in our field of law and urban space.

Along similar lines, this edition boasts a vignette by IRGLUS foudning member, Edesio Fernandes. Edesio is a legal consultant, member of DPU Associates and member of the teaching faculty at the Lincoln institute of Land Policy. He is based in London, but hails from Brazil, and his vignette reflects upon the contributing factors, implications and lessons to be learnt from the recent, sustained social demonstrations and street protests occurring there.

Once again, we would like to invite all IRGLUS members to submit short, topical pieces (of approximately 500 words) for inclusions in future editions of this newsletter, the content of which is heavily dependent on your input. We would also appreciate if you could notify us of upcoming events that we may feature in the newsletter of any professional opportunities in the field of law and urban space, of which you may be aware. We also calling, once again, for submissions of pictures and brief biographies of members, for inclusion in our "member profile" section.

We wish everyone a happy and productive end to 2013, and look forward to touching bases again in the new year.

Thomas Coggin and Marius Pieterse
Global Co-ordinators


Brazil's "winter of discontent": What it says about urban planning and urban law

Edesio Fernandes

Countless massive social demonstrations and street protests have taken place all over Brazil since late May. The phenomenon is continuing, although it has recently lost momentum. Initially, there was a widespread perplexity regarding the causes and timing of the social demonstrations - no one knew for sure who the actors involved, or their, goals were. Several lessons have gradually emerged for Brazil and countries everywhere, especially regarding on the relationship between urban planning, policy, management, and urban law.
It is not easy to explain what has happened, given the general lack of focus of the demonstrations, as well as the absence of clear leaders. The first demonstration in Sao Paulo was a specific protest against increased bus fares, fomented by violent police reaction. Since, the demonstrations have grown, spread to many other cities, and incorporated several other claims: quality of public services (especially health and education); costs of the 2014 World Cup, 2016 Olympic Games and several large projects funded by the public authorities; specific laws, situations and specific politicians; widespread corruption; etc.
The essentially diffuse composition of this social mobilisation has also been intriguing. Demonstrators have largely been young people, initially from the so-called “new middle-class” which has - ironically - emerged out of the social policies adopted by the Federal Government over the last 10 years.  They were later joined by the members of the traditional middle-classes and eventually by residents in shantytowns. They have all shared a profound discredit of the official institutional actors – political parties, powers of the state, governmental levels, unions, students’ organisations, civics and NGOs, media, etc. Especially given the repeated use of violence by the police, more recently this broad popular agenda risks to be taken over by radical right- and left-wing groups, the action of which seems to be based on unclear notions of acceptable forms of anarchy and vandalism, as well as the place of “symbolic violence”.  Moreover, the recurrence of both police violence and violent actions of such groups in the demonstrations seems to have led to the current declining popular participation. However, even when they have been violent, this social mobilisation process has thus far dialogued with the state and demanded overall, though still vague, ”political reform”.

Read more here.

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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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