Delegate Name: Hope Orban
As defined by the UN, an informal settlement is defined as housing in which the residents lack a combination of security of tenure, access to basic services and infrastructure, and compliance with building regulations. Over 1 billion people worldwide live in these conditions. These self-built and unplanned settlements emerge due to the rapid urbanization that is taking over the global community. The United Nations Population Division estimates that the number of individuals living in cities has increased from less than 10 percent to over 55 percent of the world’s population in the past 200 years. The UN estimates that approximately 68% of the world will live in urban areas by 2050. These accelerated rates of urbanization due to environmental, economic, and political motives inevitably create slums on the edge of city areas. Although they often face many dangers and lack protection and basic resources, informal settlements provide a potential housing solution for the underprivileged. They also provide a sense of community to residents, contribute to urban economies, and are centers of culture. The challenge in managing and improving informal settlements is to find a way to make these potentially culturally rich and beneficial housing situations into safe and manageable places to live.
Brazil is the largest country in South America. Over 86% of its 214.3 million person population live in urban areas. Two of the largest cities, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, are home to 12.33 and 6.748 million people respectively. Unfortunately, Brazil has some of the highest income inequality in the world. The country’s richest 5% have the same income as the remaining 95% of society. This unequal distribution of wealth creates a struggling low class, many of which live in informal settlements. The most common type of informal settlement in Brazil are called favelas. Favelas are simply defined as working-class slums in Brazil. According to the 2010 Brazilian census, over 11 million people live in these communities. Created in the late 19th century by returning soldiers and emancipated slaves, these neighborhoods are faced with lacking infrastructure, poor sanitation and nutrition, pollution, high rates of diseases and mortality, and overcrowding. These communities are often ruled by drug lords that use fear tactics and violence to control the population. Lack of government and regulation in favelas allows these conditions to persist. While dangerous, favelas are also home to talented, hard-working inhabitants that promote business and culture within these slums. The Brazilian government has implemented a multitude of measures overtime in an attempt to control, upgrade, or get rid of favelas. Perilous attempts have been made to remove or relocate favelas. Some favelas are or were controlled by Pacifying Police Units (UPPs), specialized police units focused on managing slum crime. The result of these forces was a mixed bag, but after their implementation all recent political leaders in Brazil have tried to implement a form of offensive supervision in favelas. Current policy stands to preserve and upgrade favelas, although not much legislation is being passed and created on the subject. Favelas, while serving as housing options for the poor and centers of culture and unique economic opportunity, currently face violence and are blocked off (metaphorically and physically by walls) from the greater urban populations of Brazil.
Informal settlements are not merely a problem to be solved. While negative conditions persist within them, upgrading and aiding the people within slums will bring economic benefits. Brazil, specifically, would like to work with NGOs like Catalytic Communities, ActionAid, and Community in Action to help upgrade, educate, and empower the people (specifically youth and women) living in favelas. In order to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 11 by its goal deadline, countries must come together in the UN to find a way to empower and upgrade the unique communities in informal settlements. Brazil calls upon the UN to use already developed and new subcommittees of the UN to create lasting and effective solutions for informal settlements.