Overview – United Nations Human Settlements Program: An Overview

Overview – United Nations Human Settlements Program: An Overview

Year of establishment: 1978
Location of Headquarters: Nairobi, Kenya
Head: Joan Clos [Executive Director of UN-Habitat]

An agency of the United Nations, it aims to promote socially and environmentally sustainable urban area. The mandate of the agency comes from the General Assembly resolution 3327, resolution 56/206 and the various international development goals agreed upon by nations.

“Towns and cities which are socially and environmentally sustainable are promoted highly by UN-HABITAT.”

The agency was established after the First UN Conference on the topic of Human Settlements and Sustainable Urban Development in 1976 and the adoption of mandate birthed from the Habitat Agenda in the second conference. The documents that are taken for reference are the Vancouver Declaration on Human Settlements, the Habitat Agenda as specified above, the Istanbul Declaration on Human Settlements and lastly, the Declaration on Cities and Other Human Settlements in the New Millennium.

The focus is on providing affordable housing and sustainable urban development.”
– Joan Clos [Source: World Habitat Day]

Thus, towns and cities which are socially and environmentally sustainable are promoted highly by UN-HABITAT. There are two main members of the UN-Habitat Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (HS) and the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS).

The first part of the programme is the Governing Council which is the intergovernmental decision-making body.

The meeting occurs every two years where the work carried out by UN-Habitat is examined along with the relationship that it shares with its partners. The policy guidelines are discussed and the budget is decided upon so that both can be declared for the next two years.

The second is the World Urban Forum who dedicates energy towards urban issues which is rapid urbanization and ensuring urban development but sustainably. The last one is World Urban Campaign which is where cities can share and learn every instrument for positive movement towards sustainable development. It has the partnership of public, private and the civil society partners.

“The first Monday of October each year has been titled as World Habitat Day by the United Nations.”

The first Monday of October each year has been titled as World Habitat Day by the United Nations. It is a way of reminding the world and citizens to be more responsible for sustainability of human habitat. As awards are a token of encouraging progress, UN-HABITAT has designated the “UN-Habitat Scroll of Honour Award” for individuals or institutions which carry out the projects for improvement in human settlements development.

The following is a list of the various services that UN-HABITAT works towards urban economy, urban legislation, risk reduction and rehabilitation, urban basic services, urban research and capacity building, housing and slum up gradation and urban planning and design.

The work spreads over 70 countries in five continents. There are three bifurcations that overlook programs which are “Monitoring and Research Division”, “Shelter and Sustainable Development Division” and “Regional and Technical Cooperative Division.” The work towards providing sustainability in today’s world is not facile. So there are a number of units that work alongside UN-Habitat to achieve the common goal. These include NGOs, women’s groups, researchers, community-based organizations and many more which creatively work towards the betterment of the poor.

The budgets are handled well by the voluntary donations from areas such as the private sector, governments and inter-governmental donors, etc.

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