- Nina Quintas
It is Urban October again, and everybody is invited by the United Nations to reflect on how we live on earth as human societies, in urban, peri-urban and rural areas. The United Nations Conferences on Biodiversity (COP15) and on Climate Change (COP26) will also take place this October (2021), with alarming analysis about how we humans are responsible for the mass extinction of species and the climate emergency with its international consequences - which are now too long to be listed.
The way we produce, transport and consume resources and energy, the way we transport ourselves, and the way we use and contaminate the earth has irreversible impacts that cannot be ignored. And so does the way we produce our living environment.
Community-Led Housing (CLH) refers to a multitude of practices where people unite to collectively take control of the planning, managing and - sometimes - constructing or improving their living environment, including housing, communal or public spaces, areas for recreational or income generating activities, amongst others. CLH is extremely diverse and is not a guarantee for a more environmentally-friendly construction or a low carbon footprint way of life, but it definitely offers people the power of taking collective decisions about how to live. As this CLH project-review shows, the participation of the residents, the interactions with the neighbourhood - and the collaboration with public authorities and other stakeholders - leads to comprehensive projects, including innovations in eco-conception and energy-efficiency, affordability, circular and solidarity economy, social inclusion, and mutual care among neighbours.
In any case, CLH projects always involve a two-fold complexity: how to access land that comes with tenure security, and how to access affordable and inclusive finance. These elements will be at the heart of this case-study review.
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