Held in Nairobi, Kenya from May 27-31, 2019, UN-Habitat is holding the first session of the UN-Habitat Assembly since the passage of a UN resolution implementing a new governance structure and the implementation of UN-Habitat’s new strategic plan, with the theme “Innovation for Better Quality of Life in Cities and Communities.” Representatives of Solid Ground and Habitat for Humanity are attending and have submitted the below statement to the Assembly. The statement asserts housing as central to achieving the New Urban Agenda and calls on governments and UN-Habitat to continue prioritizing housing in achieving their development objectives.

Habitat for Humanity Statement to the First UN-Habitat Assembly

Habitat for Humanity is pleased to submit a statement on the occasion of the first session of the United Nations Habitat Assembly, or UN-Habitat, and to add our congratulations to a new streamlined governance structure and visionary strategic plan. As stakeholders we applaud the member states and UN-Habitat in the recognition of the inclusion of stakeholders. Habitat for Humanity represents civil society in leadership positions in the General Assembly of Partners, the Global Land Tool Network and the World Urban Campaign.  

Habitat for Humanity is a global non-governmental organization, whose vision is a world where everyone has a safe and decent place to live. Habitat for Humanity was established in 1976, as a grassroots effort and has grown as a leading global non-governmental housing organization working in nearly 70 countries. In addition to our direct housing interventions, Habitat for Humanity works closely with partners advocating for decent, safe and affordable housing for all.

Our Call to Governments and Guiding Policy Principles

At Habitat III, member states recognized that housing stands at the center of the New Urban Agenda. Expansion of housing opportunities will support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, especially SDG Target 11.1 for housing, but also broader SDGs of poverty alleviation, health, economic development, social cohesion, gender equality and environmental sustainability. Habitat for Humanity urges governments and UN-Habitat to continue to prioritize housing in achieving their development objectives.

Considering the diminished references to inclusion of housing and land in the UN-Habitat’s 2020-2025 Strategic Plan, Habitat for Humanity urges UN-Habitat and its member states to reconsider the importance and centrality of housing in its strategic objectives and as a driver of change.

Habitat for Humanity calls on UN-Habitat and its member states to:

  • Ensure access to adequate housing options for all.
  • Address housing affordability through housing finance options.
  • Recognize the continuum of land rights and the significance of equitable access to land and effective land governance systems in support of housing.
  • Enable stakeholder engagement and participatory processes in development of housing and land policies.
  • Enhance resilience and responsiveness of communities through housing.
  • Ensure the rights of vulnerable populations and women be given special consideration in the design of safe and affordable housing assistance programs.

Habitat for Humanity’s Global Commitments to Action

Habitat for Humanity and its local, affiliated partners around the world recognize the importance of housing, secure tenure and people-centered development in achieving sustainable development gains. At Habitat III, Habitat for Humanity contributed the following commitments to support the New Urban Agenda:

  1. Introduced a new urban approach to promote inclusive and sustainable cities in a highly urbanizing world.
  2. Launched Solid Ground, a global advocacy campaign to raise awareness and improve policies and systems to help 10 million people secure access to land for shelter, focusing on four key areas: secure tenure, slum upgrading, disaster resilience and gender equality.
  3. Launched the Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter to accelerate and facilitate better-functioning, inclusive housing markets to enable access to improved shelter solutions for over 8 million people by 2020.
  4. Implemented an array of community development strategies, advocacy initiatives and market approaches to increase access to affordable housing for nearly 40 million people by 2020.

Habitat for Humanity recognizes the success of implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda depends on meaningful participation of all involved stakeholders, especially at the local level.