World Habitat Day

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'The United Nations designated the first Monday of October of every year as World Habitat Day to reflect on the state of our towns and cities, and on the basic right of all to adequate shelter. The Day is also intended to remind the world that we all have the power and the responsibility to shape the future of our cities and towns. It was in 1986 that the United Nations first celebrated World Habitat Day. The host city was Nairobi and the chosen theme for the year was "Shelter is My Right".

The UN 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 organised 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 sprawls and all the associated problems that are created as a result.

Cities after all are engines of growth. Many people from rural areas in the world long to move to cities in order to realise their dreams for a better life. Often this dream is not realised, 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 a prime factor in ensuring that this is avoided.

Another important factor is that as the world's climate continues to change, there is an ever-increasing risk of natural disasters. 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 shantytowns that have no proper infrastructure, no community organisation and no 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[edit]

The UN-Habitat Scroll of Honour award was launched by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme 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 World Urban Forum.

Previous World Habitat Days[edit]

Year Theme Venue Chief Guest
2019 Frontier Technologies as an innovative Tool to Transform Waste into Wealth TBC TBC
2018 Municipal Solid Waste Management Nairobi Kenya at UNON, Gigiri H.E Uhuru Kenyatta - President of Kenya
2017 Housing Policies:Affordable Housing
2016 Housing at the Centre
2015 Public Spaces for All’
2014 Voices from Slums
2013 Urban Mobility
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.
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 President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
2004 Cities - Engines of Rural Development Nairobi President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya
2003 Water and Sanitation for Cities Rio de Janeiro César Maia, Mayor of Rio de Janeiro
2002 City-to-City Cooperation Brussels H.R.H. Prince Philippe
2001 Cities without Slums Fukuoka 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 Yu Zhengsheng, Minister of Construction, China
1998 Safer Cities Dubai Qasim Sultan Al Banna, Director General, Dubai Municipality UAE
1997 Future Cities Bonn Klaus Topfer, Federal Minister for Regional Planning, Building and Urban Development, Germany
1996 Urbanization, Citizenship and Human Solidarity Budapest Minister of the Interior, Hungary
1995 Our Neighbourhood Curitiba Mayor of Curitiba
1994 Home and the Family Dakar Abdou Diouf, President of Senegal
1993 Women and Shelter Development New York City Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Secretary-General of the United Nations
1992 Shelter and Sustainable Development New York City Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Secretary-General of the United Nations
1991 Shelter and the Living Environment Hiroshima Mayor of Hiroshima
1990 Shelter and Urbanization London Sir Geoffrey Howe
1989 Shelter, Health and the Family Jakarta Suharto, President of Indonesia
1988 Shelter and Community London Robert Runcie, Archbishop of Canterbury
1987 Shelter for the Homeless New York City Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, Secretary-General of the United Nations
1986 Shelter is my Right Nairobi

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