World Habitat Day
World Habitat Day is marked on the first Monday of October each year, and is recognized by the United Nations to reflect on the state of towns and cities, and on the basic right of all to adequate shelter. The day is also intended to remind the world that everyone has the power and the responsibility to shape the future of towns and cities. World Habitat Day was first celebrated in 1986 in Nairobi, Kenya, and the theme chosen for that year was "Shelter is My Right". 
The United Nations General Assembly decided that this should be an annual event and the first Monday of October was chosen. The day is celebrated in many countries around the world and various activities are organized to examine the problems of rapid urbanisation and its impact on the environment and human poverty. 
Annual themes for World Habitat Day have been diverse and have included "Shelter for the Homeless", "Our Neighbourhood", "Safer Cities," "Women in Urban Government," Cities without Slums" and "Water and Sanitation for Cities." 
UN Habitat makes plain the need to plan cities in order to avoid the chaotic development of urban sprawl and all the associated problems that are created as a result.
Cities are engines of growth. Many people from rural areas globally long to move to cities to realize their dreams of a better life. Often this dream is not realized, but people continue to flock to cities for no other reason than a vague promise of a better future and prosperity.
A well-planned city can bring just that. Cities can be centres for economic activities and urban challenges can be addressed and opportunities can continue to be afforded to both current and future residents. Those who are successful succeed in getting jobs or starting their own businesses, which in turn creates more employment opportunities.
On the other hand, cities can also become a setting in which marginalisation, inequality and social exclusion can abound. Access to adequate housing is an important factor in ensuring this is avoided.
Another major issue is the ever-increasing risk posed by natural disasters as the climate crisis continues to develop. This risk is particularly significant in the Caribbean Region and Central America, where countries such as Haiti, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Bolivia have higher levels of poverty and where their cities are exceptionally vulnerable due to their population density and diversity.
High levels of population density, coupled with poor building techniques have given rise to shanty towns that have no proper infrastructure, community organization or security of tenure. In the event of a disaster of any kind, a complete breakdown can result in a chaotic situation and enormous loss of life.
Habitat Scroll of Honour
The UN-Habitat Scroll of Honour Award was launched by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) in 1989. It is currently the most prestigious human settlements award in the world. Its aim is to acknowledge initiatives which have made outstanding contributions in various fields such as shelter provision, highlighting the plight of the homeless, leadership in post conflict reconstruction and developing and improving human settlements and the quality of urban life.
The award, a plaque engraved with the name of the winner and their achievement, is presented to the winners during the Global Observance of the World Habitat Day.
Previous World Habitat Days
|Year||Theme||Global Observance venue||Chief Guest|
|2021||Accelerating urban action for a carbon-free world ||to be announced|
|2020||Housing For All: A Better Urban Future ||Surabaya, Indonesia||Basuki Hadimuljono, Minister of Public Works and Housing, Indonesia|
|2019||Frontier Technologies as an Innovative Tool to Transform Waste to Wealth    ||Mexico City, Mexico||Martha Delgado Peralta, Undersecretary for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights, and UN-Habitat Assembly President|
|2018||Municipal Solid Waste Management||United Nations Office at Nairobi, Kenya||Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya|
|2017||Housing Policies: Affordable Housing||none|
|2016||Housing at the Centre||none|
|2015||Public Spaces for All||none|
|2014||Voices from Slums||none|
|2012||Changing Cities, Building Opportunities ||Islamabad, Pakistan|
|2011||Cities and Climate Change||Aguascalientes, Mexico|
|2010||Better City, Better Life||Shanghai, China|
|2009||Planning our urban future||Washington, D.C., United States of America|
|2008||Harmonious Cities||Luanda, Angola||José Eduardo dos Santos - President of Angola|
|2007||A safe city is a just city||The Hague, Netherlands||Wim Deetman, Mayor of The Hague and chairman of UCLG|
|2006||Cities, magnets of hope||Monterrey, Mexico||Beatriz Zavala Peniche, Secretary of Social Development, (SEDESOL) on "Rescue of Public Spaces Programme"|
|2005||The Millennium Development Goals and the City||Jakarta, Indonesia||President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono|
|2004||Cities - Engines of Rural Development||Nairobi, Kenya||President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya|
|2003||Water and Sanitation for Cities||Rio de Janeiro, Brazil||César Maia, Mayor of Rio de Janeiro|
|2002||City-to-City Cooperation||Brussels, Belgium||H.R.H. Prince Philippe|
|2001||Cities without Slums||Fukuoka, Japan||Wataru Asō, Governor of Fukuoka Prefecture|
|2000||Women in Urban Governance||Jamaica||Seymour Mullings, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Land and Environment|
|1999||Cities for All||Dalian, China||Yu Zhengsheng, Minister of Construction, China|
|1998||Safer Cities||Dubai, United Arab Emirates||Qasim Sultan Al Banna, Director General, Dubai Municipality UAE|
|1997||Future Cities||Bonn, Germany||Klaus Topfer, Federal Minister for Regional Planning, Building and Urban Development, Germany|
|1996||Urbanization, Citizenship and Human Solidarity||Budapest, Hungary||Minister of the Interior, Hungary|
|1995||Our Neighbourhood||Curitiba, Brazil||Mayor of Curitiba|
|1994||Home and the Family||Dakar, Senegal||Abdou Diouf, President of Senegal|
|1993||Women and Shelter Development||New York City, United States of America||Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Secretary-General of the United Nations|
|1992||Shelter and Sustainable Development||New York City, United States of America||Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Secretary-General of the United Nations|
|1991||Shelter and the Living Environment||Hiroshima, Japan||Mayor of Hiroshima|
|1990||Shelter and Urbanization||London, United Kingdom||Sir Geoffrey Howe|
|1989||Shelter, Health and the Family||Jakarta, Indonesia||Suharto, President of Indonesia|
|1988||Shelter and Community||London, United Kingdom||Robert Runcie, Archbishop of Canterbury|
|1987||Shelter for the Homeless||New York City, United States of America||Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, Secretary-General of the United Nations|
|1986||Shelter is my Right||Nairobi, Kenya|
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- UN-Habitat Urban October website
- Indonesian city of Surabaya to host the Global Observance of World Habitat Day 2020