Issues Home About Contact Us Issue 27 - December 2022 عربى
International Developments

HIC Learning-based Advocacy Building Social Force through Learning, Asserting It through Advocacy.

“We do not learn from experience...

we learn from reflecting on experience.”

John Dewey

Habitat International Coalition (HIC) has positioned itself as a global leader in civil networking, learning and policy advocacy. Through HIC’s Co-learning and Advocacy Project, the Coalition has has emerged from a long history of connecting diverse-but-complementary civil society actors through joint learning and advocacy.

The project has supported so-called “co-learning spaces” as cross-regional, multi-session and multi-lingual online encounters co-designed and co-facilitated by and for HIC Members, Friends and allies. These have emphasized HIC strengths as a collective learning platform for policy impact through norm-based, knowledge-building and evidence-informed advocacy. These forums foster exchange of skills and experience for advocacy action across the three regions of Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. The spaces develop and nurture critical pedagogies inspired by such pedagogical luminaries as Socrates, John Dewey, Rosa Luxemburg, Ivan Illich and Paolo Freire. In this way, learning as a HIC practice informs innovation and problem solving for political change.


Through the Co-learning Spaces, HIC Members, Friends have co-facilitated diagnostic processes that critically assess their respective—and often similar—realities along thematic focus areas. The 2021–22 program prioritized feminist approaches and human rights approaches to land, as well as multi-sphere advocacy action tutorials. These prepared participants to then contribute to “transforming our world” through prioritizing, strategizing, learning and advocating policy alternatives together in both human-rights and sustainable-development forums. The sessions have embodied the collaborative and social nature of learning and enhanced communication across HIC. They have also encouraged critical consciousness of collective ways of thinking and acting globally along the HIC Members’ pillars of competence: gender, environment, social production of habitat and human rights.

The first phase of the Co-learning and Advocacy Project, formally referred to as, Connecting across Human Rights Related to Habitat: Civil Society Action for Gender and Land Policy Impact 2021–2022” emerged with support from the Catalan development agency (ACCD) as a response to HIC Member legacy of human rights-based advocacy spanning the continuum of (urban and rural) human-settlement development. The process was facilitated by the HIC General Secretariat jointly with HIC-HLRN, HIC-MENA, and HIC-AL as implementing agencies, with input from an academic collective known as Knowledge in Action for Urban Equality (KNOW).

This first phase attracted the participation of over 300 HIC Members, Friends and allies from the three target regions and beyond. All shared the common objective influencing needed reform of habitat-related policies and policy outcomes, in order to contribute to improving the living conditions and habitats of impoverished urban and rural communities.

Among the outcomes of the first phase of the HIC Co-learning and Advocacy Project was recognition of the need for continuous engagement and further inter-regional collaboration to work collectively on the identified common issues and strategies, while ensuring that feminist and human-`rights approaches remain both cross cutting and mutually complementary. The co-learning space curriculum exposed participants to arguments for recognition and implementation of the “human right to land,” the social function of land (to which states committed to pursue in the New Urban Agenda), alternatives to financialization, the common effects of patriarchy accross regions, and inclusive notions of gender justice.

This has informed HIC action toward the formation of two cross-regional working groups that  will build on the learning and knowledge of the previous co-learning spaces guided by a strategic work plan that will feed HIC`s advocacy, mobilization and dissemination strategy at a global level and, in some cases, regionally. These cross-regional working groups are set to be established in January 2023.

In the upcoming period of 2023–2024, HIC intends to launch a second phase of the Co-learning and Advocacy Project that, in addition to deepening coordination of mobilization and advocacy actions identified, will strengthen social force in two key thematic areas: climate justice and social production of habitat. Given the cumulative approach to HIC learning, Members participating in the next phase will build on previous learning to explore feminist solutions to the man-made climate crisis, and how the combined human-right-to-land and social-production approaches inform climate aligns with adaptation, mitigation and reparation measures, and how these hybrid strategies meet the challenges of the combined climate and housing crises. Key to this convergence also is understanding and promoting social production of habitat practice as it relates to states’ obligation to fulfill the human right to adequate housing, while applying, low-carbon, green-building alternatives to the dominant, highly consumptive urbanization models.

HIC Members will share concepts of autonomous habitat production and management, related policy-analysis and advocacy techniques, and develop a common understanding of climate justice, strengthened solidarity, shared intervention strategies and joint actions to operationalize climate justice for communities vulnerable to, and affected by environmental hazards and disasters associated with climate change.

Ancillary to HIC’s second-phase Co-learning and Advocacy Project will see HIC assuming a catalytic role in bringing about greater convergence among social movements through dialogue to build mutual understanding that integrates feminist approaches and solidarity across urban, rural and indigenous social movements.

Image: Graphic used in an introductory session of the Co-learning and Advocacy Project. Artist: Pilar Emitxin.


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