The United Nations has designated the first Monday in October every year as World Habitat Day to reflect on the state of human settlements and the basic right to adequate shelter for all. It is also intended to remind the world of its collective responsibility for the future of the human habitat.
The theme of this year’s World Habitat Day on Monday 2 October 2006 is Cities, magnets of hope. This theme, chosen by the United Nations, is to remind all of us that the world is witnessing the greatest migration in its history of people into towns and cities. In 1950, one-third of the world’s people lived in cities. Just 50 years later, this rose to one-half and will continue to grow to two-thirds, or 6 billion people, by 2050. Cities are now home to half of humankind.
As the world becomes increasingly urban, it is essential that policymakers understand the power of the city as a catalyst for national development. Cities have to be able to provide inclusive living conditions for all their residents. Rich or poor, everyone has a right to the city, to a decent living environment, to clean water, sanitation, transport, electricity and other services. How we manage this is arguably one of the greatest challenges facing humanity.
The venue for the Global Observance of this year’s World Habitat Day will be announced shortly.