The theme of this year's
World Habitat Day celebrations - "Cities without Slums"
- is one that concerns us all, collectively and individually.
One billion poor people live without adequate shelter and basic
services in slums and squatter settlements.
With over half of humanity
now living in cities and towns, the challenge of the urban millennium
is to improve the living environment of the poor. On this World
Habitat Day, we must all dedicate ourselves to the task of ensuring
that, one day, we will live in a world without slums.
Earlier this year, at
Istanbul + 5, the Special Session of the General Assembly, Governments
issued a Declaration on Cities and other Human
the many pledges, Governments resolved to promote the upgrading
of slums and squatter settlements within their countries. In particular,
they reiterated their commitment to meeting the goals of the Millennium
Summit. They endorsed the specific target of making a significant
difference in the lives of 100 million slum dwellers by 2020.
If we are to meet this target, we need to begin now.
World Habitat day is dedicated
to reminding us of our responsibilities to improving human settlements
everywhere. I therefore call upon all concerned citizens to work
towards the goal of creating cities without slums. Decisive action
needs to be taken by national and city governments to enable the
poor to help themselves. In particular, local authorities must
initiate and implement policies that:
attack poverty and
not the poor;
get rid of slums and
not slum dwellers;
remove squatting but
As made clear by the Habitat
Agenda, it is the primary responsibility of national and local
governments to ensure an enabling environment of peace, order
and good government. Focusing on policies that encourage good
urban governance will create the space for the poor in general
- and women in particular - to contribute their
energy and resources to improving their own conditions.
To support these policies,
UNCHS (Habitat) has launched the Global Campaign for Secure Tenure
and the Global Campaign on Urban Governance to emphasise that
the poor - in both rural and in urban areas - can
and must be recognized as developmental partners and as
Habitat's Campaign for
Secure Tenure rejects unlawful forced evictions and its fundamental
premise is that security of tenure is among the most important
of housing rights. Security of tenure is also one of the most
important catalysts for attracting corporate and individual investment
in order to improve the living conditions of the urban poor. At
the same time, our Campaign on Urban Governance envisions an 'inclusive
city' as a place where everyone including the urban poor can contribute
productively and enjoy the benefits of urban life.
UNCHS (Habitat) and the
World Bank have also launched the Cities Alliance to mobilise
resources to tackle the growth of slums on a global and sustainable
basis - we are delighted that this partnership now includes
the international associations of local authorities as well as
major bilateral development agencies.
These campaigns and initiatives
are committed to ensuring that the poor have the political and
economic space to improve their physical environment. Furthermore,
The Declaration on Cities and other human settlements in the new
millennium provides all of us, governments, local authorities,
non-governmental organisations and local communities with a battle
plan to provide adequate shelter for all and to tackle the problems
of human settlement development. Together we can meet the targets
set by the international community so that, one day, our children
will live in cities without slums.
United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat)