Improving human settlements

Developing human settlements
Improving standard of human settlements
Ensuring sustainable human settlements
Solving human settlement problems
A significant challenge in sustainable human settlements development over the next 20 years is how to meet the environmental objectives and goals of sustainable development while at the same time improving the living and working conditions of humanity, the majority of whom will soon be living in urban areas.

This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities.

In 1989, the UN launched the [Global Strategy for Shelter to the Year 2000], which urged an enabling approach to mobilize the full potential and resources of all involved in building and improving shelter. In 1976 the UN held the [Conference on Human Settlements], and in 1977 set up the UN Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat).

The [UN Conference on Human Settlements -- Habitat II] (3-14 June 1996) dealt with two main themes: (1) sustainable human settlements development in an urbanizing world and (2) adequate shelter for all. Special attention was focused on urban problems; hence Habitat II was dubbed the 'City Summit'. The Conference adopted principles, commitments and a related 'Global Plan of Action; individual countries are developing 'National Plans of Action' for making the cities of the 21st century just, healthy, secure and convivial places for all. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and community-based organizations (CBOs) organized a separate Forum concurrent with the Habitat II Conference. Through broad-based participation, enabling strategies and an evolving concept of governance, this Forum sought to empower both those involved and affected. The Forum aimed to express and reflect the problems, desires, prospects and general sentiments of civil society.

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Habitat have developed guidelines for greening urban development management, backed demonstration projects for the rehabilitation of squatter settlements in the Philippines and Indonesia, supported the greening of Dodoma, the new capital of Tanzania, and have set up a project in Democratic Yemen to demonstrate a model for planning and building settlements which take environmental parameters into account.

The WHO Healthy Cities project and the European Commission Expert Group on the Urban Environment have proved to be effective in helping national and local leaders to view the problems of human settlements in an integrated manner.

An approach to human settlements development which does not balance people's housing needs with employment opportunities, educational provision, social and cultural services, and transport facilities is never going to be sustainable. The market can supply some of these facilities very effectively; but this must be within a framework of regulation in which the meeting of present needs does not infringe upon the capacity of future generations to meet their own needs. Such regulation is the fundamental task of government at all levels. Increasingly public authorities are seeing this as a partnership with other stakeholders -- with employers, trade unions, grassroots organizations, users of services etc.
Type Classification:
C: Cross-sectoral strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 1: No PovertyGOAL 2: Zero HungerGOAL 3: Good Health and Well-beingGOAL 4: Quality EducationGOAL 5: Gender EqualityGOAL 6: Clean Water and SanitationGOAL 7: Affordable and Clean EnergyGOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic GrowthGOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and InfrastructureGOAL 10: Reduced InequalityGOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and CommunitiesGOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and ProductionGOAL 13: Climate ActionGOAL 14: Life Below WaterGOAL 15: Life on LandGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong InstitutionsGOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal