By 2030, two thirds of the world will live in urban areas. Faced with an increasingly urbanizing world, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, have set ambitious targets to ensure that cities and human settlements grow in ways that are inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Habitat for Humanity has been a vocal supporter of the inclusion of housing in the urban targets and indicators in the SDGs and applauds the U.N. and member states for recognizing the increasing role that housing and human settlements play in building a shared sustainable future.

Many cities in the United States and around the world are now using the SDGs to track their alignment with other major cities globally. Some local Habitat for Humanity offices have have used the SDGs as an opportunity to engage with the local government. 

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. As a result, households are forced to operate in complex, informal arrangements, making them vulnerable to displacement and loss of livelihoods and unable to reap the social and economic benefits associated with security of tenure. In 2016, at the U.N.’s Habitat III conference in Quito, Habitat for Humanity pledged its commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda by increasing access to decent shelter for over 200 million people by 2036. Since then, to achieve this goal, Habitat for Humanity has made progress in promoting sustainable cities, increasing security of tenure and catalyzing market development.

Resource Guide:

After analyzing a comprehensive matrix created by Habitat for Humanity International, five of the seventeen SDGs were identified as the goals that housing drives the most. While housing is a strong contributor to an additional eight goals as well. To accomplish these goals housing will need to be an ambitious player. For those interested in learning about how housing will play an important role in accomplishing the SDGs Habitat for Humanity has developed a Resource Guide.

This Resource Guide is intended to serve as a handy resource for better understanding how security of tenure and other housing related indicators impact the SDGs. It can be a tool for housing practitioners and sustainable development experts alike, helping them fill in their respective knowledge gaps. It is also a starting point for rigorous action research and analysis of broad housing impacts as measured by the SDGs.

Here are a few examples of housing’s impact:

  • Housing is a driver, catalyst and contributor for 13 of the 17 SDGs.
  • Housing is a platform for household resilience and sustainability, driving Human Development Index and Multi-Poverty Index outcomes in health, education and standard of living, including indicators in nutrition; child mortality; school enrollment; energy; water; sanitation and durable, healthy construction.
  • Housing as a process can create a sense of place and dignity, building community cohesion as well as one’s social and financial network and assets.
  • Adequate and affordable housing:

              Is a multiplier of community jobs and income.

              Improves household income and financial stability, often providing home-
              based industry opportunities.

  • Housing is a prerequisite for inclusive, equitable, safe, resilient and sustainable cities.

Research shows that safe, adequate and affordable housing leads to benefits in health, education and economic opportunity.  The process of housing improvement itself is often a ladder out of poverty for families.  These changes benefit the larger community, reducing inequality and building resilience against economic and natural disasters.

It will take engagement from the public and private sectors, nonprofits, academia, faith communities and broad civil society to accomplish these goals.

Read/download a copy of the guide here.

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