By CATHERINE BENSON WAHLÉN
On World Habitat Day, UN leaders and others underscored the importance of achieving affordable homes for all in creating inclusive cities and advancing progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Day marks the first anniversary of the adoption of the New Urban Agenda and the official start of Urban October, a month of citizen engagement and celebration on urban life around the world.
World Habitat Day focused on the theme, ‘Housing Policies: Affordable Homes.’ According to the UN, over 1.6 billion people live in inadequate housing, including 1 billion people who live in slums and informal settlements. On the Day, the UN underscored the importance of addressing the housing needs of the poorest and most vulnerable, emphasizing the role of sound housing policies in tackling challenges related to climate change, energy consumption, mobility and resilience.
UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) Executive Director, Joan Clos, stressed the importance of housing affordability in development, equality and peace in a statement for the Day. Clos emphasized housing’s contribution to achieving the SDGs, explaining that including housing policies in national urban policies can help support strategies to tackle poverty, improve health and increase employment.
The UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) adopted the New Urban Agenda in October 2016. The New Urban Agenda emphasizes the link between urbanization and development, recognizing urbanization as a prerequisite for prosperity and growth and indispensable for development.
World Habitat Day aims to stimulate reflection on the state of cities and towns and the basic right of adequate shelter for all. Celebrations included urban breakfasts in Nairobi, Kenya, and Geneva, Switzerland, and discussions on urban challenges and solutions related to inclusive, safe, sustainable and resilient cities for all.
Published on IISD on October 5, 2017.