Introduction The Rio Declaration of 1992 and its agenda for action in the twenty-first century —Agenda 21-were bold attempts at steering the nations of the world in the direction of ecologically sustainable development, a direction which includes social and environmental justice on a global scale. Six years later, can we say for the domain of urban policy that the discourse of sustainable development has made progress? Or should we rather say, as one Indian scholar said in 1997: ‘five years after Rio we do not have Rio plus five but Rio minus five’ (Shiva, forthcoming)?