Thirty years ago today marked first ever World Habitat Day. The United Nations General Assembly designated the first Monday of October as World Habitat Day to reflect on the state of our cities and towns and the right to adequate shelter for all. In preparation for Habitat III later this month, people around the world have been fiercely debating and discussing these issues for the past two years. The New Urban Agenda will ensure that we continue to monitor our progress and develop our cities in a sustainable and equitable way over the course of the next two decades. While many people around the world may already be reflecting on ways to promote a better urban future, the theme of this year’s World Habitat Day – Housing at the Center – serves as an important reminder of the role of housing.
Our home impacts every aspect of our lives. Housing contributes to our physical well-being; it not only provides a roof to sleep under but it also contributes to the state of our health. Housing impacts our economic well-being; most of us spend more on housing than any other household expense. Our home largely influences our emotional well-being; the condition and location of our home impacts the quality of our education, the safety of our neighborhood, and the vibrancy of our community. At Habitat for Humanity, we believe that decent housing provides a pathway out of poverty. We applaud the inclusion of strong language on adequate and affordable housing throughout the New Urban Agenda.
With Habitat III just around the corner, we now turn our focus towards implementing the New Urban Agenda. Governments, private companies, nonprofits, and private citizens alike are collectively responsible for achieving the goals set forth in the agenda. For our part, Habitat will work to reduce poverty and foster more sustainable cities. We commit to:
- Deploying a new urban approach. By 2030, nearly two thirds of the world will be living in urban areas and the number of people living in slums continues to grow. To address this, Habitat has adopted a new urban approach to promote sustainable cities.
- Advocating for access to land for shelter globally. Housing accounts for more than 70 percent of land use in most cities, yet 1 billion people in cities around the world lack secure land rights. Solid Ground is raising awareness and improving policies and systems around access to land for shelter for 10 million people.
- Building inclusive housing markets. Government funding and private philanthropy alone cannot meet the shelter needs of the world’s population - local markets are critical. Habitat will accelerate and facilitate better functioning inclusive housing markets to enable over 8 million people to access improved shelter solutions by 2020.
- Increasing access to housing for 40 million people. By 2020, we will implement a wide array of community development strategies, advocacy initiatives and market development approaches, increasing housing access and affordability to housing for nearly 40 million people.