From the earliest times, people have travelled to cities to realize their dreams and support their families. The trend continues: by 2050, two thirds of the World’s population will live in urban areas. Yet too often, what we see being built in our cities prioritizes construction for the 1%, undermines worker protections, and ignores the growing risk of climate change.

Rights Here is a human rights initiative founded to help move investment and development in cities in a new direction. It will amplify and build connections between people within and outside the construction industries who have a shared vision of just and resilient cities, where all our rights are realized.

The Rights Here model of change involves three strategies:

First, Rights Here will share and amplify the stories of people who are transforming construction from the ground up, recognizing that stories have the power to build connections and open up new opportunities for collaboration and change. Rights Here will start in 2019-20 with a neighborhood-by-neighborhood journey throughout the five boroughs of New York City, starting in Staten Island and ending in Manhattan, talking with immigrant worker organizers, women forging their careers in construction, architects of affordable, green housing and others, to create a shared vision and strategies for rights-respecting construction. Similar projects will follow in other global cities.

Second, we’ll follow the money, challenging building owners, developers, local officials and others that have enormous sway over the future of our cities and our lives, to take human rights and climate change into account throughout their activities. While a growing global movement has raised the expectations of companies across many sectors to respect human rights, to date there has been little attention to the real estate and construction industries, in part due to the fragmented nature of the way in which investments and decisions are made.

Third, Rights Here will help channel rapidly-growing impact investment, particularly in the context of efforts to meet the UN Sustainable Development goals, towards rights-respecting construction in cities. US Trust, for example, has found that 76% of high net-worth millennial investors have reviewed their assets for environmental, social and governance (ESG) impact, versus an overall average of 34%. There are enormous opportunities to harness this growing momentum.

Collectively these strategies seek to shift investment in cities away from short-term extractive construction for the 1%, and into long-term just, resilient construction for us all.

Follow Rights Here on social: