Page 1

A mission for the 21st century UN-HABITAT, the United Nations agency for human settlements helps countries to transform their cities into safer, healthier, greener places with better opportunities where everyone, including the urban poor, can live in dignity. UN-HABITAT works with organizations at every level, including all spheres of government, civil society and the private sector to help build, manage, plan and finance sustainable urban development. Our vision is cities without slums that are livable places for all, which do not pollute the environment or deplete natural resources. At the dawn of a new urban era, with most of humanity now living in cities, UN-HABITAT is at the frontline of the battle against fast growing urban poverty and the scourge of climate change that is caused by poorly planned urbanisation and


UN-HABITAT for a better urban future

threatens the lives and livelihoods of entire cities and communities. As the United Nations gateway for cities, UNHABITAT is constantly improving its focus and responsiveness to the aspirations of cities and their residents. Our flagship publications are widely acknowledged as premier works of reference on the built environment, city trends and urban issues. Key areas on our agenda are better urban planning, improving city financing, disaster mitigation and reconstruction, urban mobility, and cleaner, greener cities that take the lead in tackling climate change. At the same time, UN-HABITAT works with hundreds of cities and communities around the world to achieve tangible improvements in the living conditions and livelihoods of the urban poor. A key area of focus is in supporting the efforts of governments and of civil society in attaining the Millennium Development Goals on water and sanitation in urban areas and slum upgrading.


The need for UN-HABITAT A Message from the Executive Director There are four mega-trends marking our modern society. The first two are omni-present. They visibly shape our societies and our daily lives – globalization and information and communication technology. The latter is often referred to as one of the main driving forces of the new economy. Third is climate change and the growing number of disasters wrought by this scourge, and finally, the trend less spoken about, but most profound in its impact on the way we live: rapid urbanisation and the growth of cities. It is the combined impact of rapid urbanization, globalization and climate change that is increasingly shaping today’s development agenda. On the one hand, cities present unparalleled opportunities for creating wealth and prosperity. Cities have become the driving force of global trade and the engines of economic growth. They serve as the nexus of our global financial markets, and the service centres of our information society. On the other hand, cities also bring irreversible changes in consumption and production patterns. As human activity concentrates in cities, we change the way we use land, water, energy and other natural resources. With over half of the world’s people living in cities, urban areas are already consuming most of world’s energy and are generating the bulk of our waste, in-

Dr. Joan Clos, Executive Director, UN-HABITAT

cluding green house gas emissions. Cities also harbour many very worrisome trends in terms of social deprivation and exclusion. As the problems of climate disruption emerge at virtually the same time and the same pace as our cities are growing, we need new thinking and we need to act fast. By following the green agenda – using less fuel for urban transport, and industry, opting for alternate energy sources, making our buildings more energy efficient, polluting the atmosphere less, protecting oceans and rivers, and ensuring a decent urban living environment, we can save money and sustain our cities and their growing populations in greater dignity and equity. In many cities, especially in developing countries, slum dwellers number more than 50 per cent of the population and have little or no access to shelter, water, and sanitation, education or health services. All too often, they are deprived of their human and civil rights as well. Put another way: Never before in history has the world witnessed such a rapid growth in urbanisation. However, this rapid urbanisation has also seen the absolute number of slum dwellers increase from 776.7 million in 2000 to some 827.6 million in 2010. How we manage this situation is arguably one of

UN-HABITAT for a better urban future


Onitsha, Nigeria one of the emerging cities in Africa. PHOTO: Š UN-HABITAT/Alessandro Scotti


UN-HABITAT for a better urban future

the biggest problems confronting humanity in the 21st century. As more and more governments recognise this, the United Nations needs to galvanise its strength like never before in the quest for sustainable urbanisation. In essence, it is a problem of adequate and affordable shelter for all, and ways of providing it – a cornerstone of UN-HABITAT’s relationship with governments, municipalities, its civil society partners, and the financial world, both public and private, as well as with those most in need of shelter, water, sanitation, electricity and other services that make for an acceptable standard of living. With so many millions living in slums, and countless thousands joining them every day, we are indeed sitting on a social time bomb that is ticking away quietly in many overcrowded, poverty-stricken corners of a geopolitical chessboard already fraught with problems. It is a shocking fact, for example, that 61.7 per cent of people living in towns and cities in sub-Saharan Africa today live in slums, and that slum dwellers constitute 35 per cent of urban residents in South Asia. This is where the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) is mandated to make a difference for the better. At the birth of the agency in 1978, two years after the first Habitat conference in Vancouver, Canada, urbanisation and its impacts were barely on the radar screen of a United Nations created just three decades earlier when two-thirds of humanity was still rural.

61.7% of people living in towns in sub-Saharan Africa live in slums

In response to the global urbanisation and shelter crisis, the United Nations General Assembly at a special session to review the Habitat Agenda in 2001 decided in its Resolution A/56/206 to elevate UN-HABITAT into a fully fledged programme of the United Nations, guided by a Governing Council of Member States to help policy-makers and local communities get to grips with the problem and find workable, lasting solutions. Also directly related to UN-HABITAT’s mandate are the Millennium Development Goals, which recognise the dire circumstances of the world’s urban poor. They articulate the commitment of member States to improve the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by the year 2020 – a target set perhaps too low because already it is calculated that some 22 million people moved out of slum conditions each year between 2000 and 2010. Another target directly related to UN-HABITAT’s mandate is the reduction by half of the number of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015.

UN-HABITAT for a better urban future


Cairo 12.5 million

Lagos 10.6 million

Moscow 10.5 million

New York-Newark 19.4 million

London 8.2 million

Rio de Janeiro 12.2 million

Mumbai 20 million

Tokyo 36.1 million

Population in selected mega cities One person represents one million people (2010 estimates)


UN-HABITAT for a better urban future

UN-HABITAT will therefore continue to prioritize core activities of its mandates – those activities which Governments consider to be important. These include: • • • •

promoting sustainable urbanization; promoting pro-poor land and housing policies; improving access to drinking water and sanitation; promoting effective and sustainable financing of cities; • promoting partnerships and mainstreaming gender; • slum prevention and upgrading; • promoting global awareness of urban conditions and trends through evidence based global monitoring and knowledge exchange UN-HABITAT also has to respond to emerging urban challenges. These are: • promoting a new role for urban planning in developing sustainable cities and towns – a planning for the 21st century, which is not the planning of the 1980s; • promoting the role of cities in climate change, focusing on urban-based mitigation and adaptation efforts, including in the areas of energy consumption as well as sustainable urban mobility and transport, bearing in mind the huge contribution of cities in developed countries to greenhouse gas emissions;

• responding to natural and human-made disasters, with the aim of facilitating transition to early recovery and reconstruction; • promoting and enhancing the role of local authorities, focusing on municipal finance. Finally, a new economic appraisal should be developed for a better understanding of the urbanization process. The evolution in time of urban capital assets and their contribution to the economy of a nation, as the added value that urbanization generates, are very powerful forces in both developed and developing countries. It is not by chance that the recent financial crisis was based on the burst of the housing prices bubble. For the poorest of the poor, the impacts on people’s lives of such crises, of local and national policy, as well as international trade and aid, are palpably real.

Dr. Joan Clos Executive Director UN-HABITAT Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations

UN-HABITAT for a better urban future


OVERSIGHT - THE GOVERNING COUNCIL Every two years, UN-HABITAT’s work and relationships with its partners are examined by the Governing Council. Composed of 58 member countries of the United Nations, it is a high-level forum of governments at the ministerial level which sets UN-HABITAT’s policy guidelines and budget every two years. The governments have representatives at the agency’s world headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, with whom senior UN-HABITAT officials meet regularly throughout the year in the Committee of Permanent Representatives (CPR). The Governing Council reports to the UN General Assembly through the Economic and Social


Council (ECOSOC) which co-ordinates the work of UN agencies. The objectives, functions and responsibilities of the Governing Council are set out in General Assembly resolution 32/162 and in paragraph 222 of the Habitat Agenda. The Governing Council has approved six focus areas to hone the agency’s work so that the maximum benefit can be derived for better, smarter, greener and more sustainable and equitable cities around the world.

Executive Director Deputy Executive Director Executive Direction and Management

Liaison Offices

Shelter and Sustainable Human Settlements Development


UN-HABITAT for a better urban future

Programme Support Division

Monitoring and Research

Regional and Technical Cooperation

Financing Human Settlements

Effective advocacy, partnerships and monitoring UN-HABITAT helps cities learn, know and understand their own needs. From finding out how many people in a given street may have water and sanitation, to what local non-governmental and civil society organizations might think about a city, or how women’s views should be taken into account, and helping exchange information and best practice ideas world-wide, the agency provides the facts, figures and studies that can help decision makers at every level and even local residents make optimum choices.

Advocacy and City Monitoring UN-HABITAT uses its World Urban Campaign, its public website and flagship publications, as well as a special best practices department to ensure that good ideas and smart innovation is easily accessible. For example, through the best practices database and exchange system, a city like Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea learn how Durban, South Africa, fights crime, or how an urban water management project in Kathmandu, Nepal, can benefit a city with similar problems in Latin America. The ideas and practices come in every form, right down to city park management schemes that can be applied elsewhere in the world. The agency publishes two biennial flagship reports,

The State of the World’s Cities, and the Global Report on Human Settlements. Both are today considered among the most authoritative reports pertaining to urban matters anywhere to be found. Also in this league are another set of regional biennial reports – The State of African Cities, The State of Arab Cities, The State of Asian Cities, The State of Chinese Cities, The State of European Cities in Transition, and The State of Latin American Cities. Each quarter, UN-HABITAT also publishes its flagship magazine, Urban World, and throughout the year different parts of the agency produces scores of specialized reports in print and electronically on the whole range of its work around the world. Most developing countries do not have regular data

UN-HABITAT for a better urban future


Tetouan, Morocco. PHOTO: © UN-HABITAT/Alessandro Scotti

collection, analysis and monitoring systems. Good urban policy and planning requires accurate information. UN-HABITAT’s Global Urban Observatory (GUO) helps cities get a bird’s eye view of their situation and their needs. Photograph a city from space, magnify it, look at a few streets in any area, and then send in survey teams to fill in the blanks from the streets up – how many people live there? How many have access to wa-


UN-HABITAT for a better urban future

ter and sanitation? Are the roads in need of repair? How many people have AIDS or malaria? Which slums are the most overcrowded? Armed with answers to such questions, it is far easier and cheaper to bring improvements.

Urban Economy UN-HABITAT promotes urban economic and financial development to enable cities to perform as engines of economic development and centres of resources for human settlements development. It provides an analytical focus on urban economy and finance and promotes policies, strategies, tools and partnerships which enhance the productivities of cities and poverty reduction. It focuses on: Poverty Reduction: raising the awareness of poverty and inequality in development; analysing the nature, characteristics, trends and distribution of poverty and inequality; devising policies and strategies to tackle poverty and inequality problems. Productive Cities: exploring how to make cities more economically productive and socially inclusive and harmonious, and expand jobs and business opportunities, increase incomes and improve quality of life, particularly for low income and disadvantaged groups. Housing Finance and Municipal Finance Systems: promoting inclusive housing finance systems and mechanisms as well as municipal finance systems to improve the effectiveness, efficiency and accessibility of existing finance systems; creating and devising innovative finance mechanisms and instruments. It publishes a human settlements finance systems and financing tools series.

Regional Economic Development: promoting local economic development by enhancing the capacities of central and local governments with respect to regional and national development and by developing strategies and tools for regional economic development. Community-based and Cooperative Initiatives: Assistance to create, develop and sustain capacities of the poor and grassroots communities to meet their needs for housing and poverty reduction and urban services.

Gender Mainstreaming Women face discrimination of one kind or another in every major city of the world. The agency strives to broaden gender equality and women’s rights into all its activities by supporting and strengthening gender awareness. It seeks to ensure more accountable, participatory and empowering urban development practices through a gender sensitive approach. The implementation of women’s rights to land, property and housing remains a formidable challenge facing the world today. The problem persists despite a host of international human rights instruments such as Millennium Development Goal 3 (Promote gender equality and empower women), and the 2005 World Summit Outcome, where women’s land, property and inheritance rights are seen as an important indicator of women’s empowerment and human development. In an effort to strengthen gender mainstreaming in its activities, UN-HABITAT produces resource materials

UN-HABITAT for a better urban future


on gender and post-crisis governance, reconstruction and land administration, gender in local governance, and best practices in gender mainstreaming in human settlements development.

Youth UN-HABITAT recognizes young people as active participants in the future of human settlements. Our work is focused on initiating and fostering inter-agency partnerships and partnerships with youth organizations at the local, national and international levels, to ensure their voices get heard. Working with young men and women and understanding their diverse abilities, realities and experiences is an essential element of UNHABITAT’s drive for sustainable urbanisation. The agency works around the world with local authorities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and youth groups. It promotes better urban youth development by providing skills training and training in enterprise development and setting up income generating projects, for example in the housing sector, to help young people find gainful employment, and thus help reduce the need to turn to crime. UN-HABITAT has an Urban Youth Fund which helps young people in poor countries aged 15 - 32 obtain funding for innovative ideas and projects. All proposals are carefully vetted by a jury and those considered the best are allocated funding ranging from USD 5,000 to USD 25,000.


UN-HABITAT for a better urban future

Partners UN-HABITAT has partnerships with governments, local authorities, donors, the private sector, parliamentarians, urban professionals and researchers, and many NGOs and community groups world-wide. Indeed, we have long campaigned for closer relationships with civil society, parliamentarians, and the private sector, and within the United Nations system. Ranging from non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations, women’s and youth groups to trade unions, urban professionals, researchers and spiritual organizations, these partners have innovative ways of helping the poor. Many have developed effective ways of working with their national governments and municipalities. Our collaboration with local authorities is particularly important and spreads to all levels – from technical cooperation projects at city level, to capacity building in collaboration with training institutions and policy dialogue at major events like our biennial World Urban Forum. But given the challenge of urban poverty, with the number of people living in slums and other sub-standard housing projected to rise to more than 1.3 billion by 2020, meeting the Millennium Development Goals on slums, water and sanitation is a huge challenge. It will require a concerted approach to land, basic infrastructure and services, affordable housing solutions, and accessible housing finance systems, through partnerships engaging the private sector.

UN-HABITAT is well aware that the private sector is a vital part that must be engaged if the world’s cities are to achieve sustainability. The private sector and the UN share common objectives of more efficient, productive and inclusive cities. Cities just have to be good for business. UN-HABITAT has many alliances with the business community able to help us fulfill our mission, by supporting our work, directly or indirectly. These are the business partners which manifest corporate responsibility in the community, make a positive contribution to the urban environment, have a record of socially-responsive behaviour and which have responsive labour and environmental practices.

UN-HABITAT also appreciates that if its goals are to be achieved, then it must involve the professionals and researchers working in all human settlements related fields be they architects, surveyors, urban planners, geographers and lawyers. In other words they can be drawn from any other profession that can practically contribute to a sustainable urbanization.

In 2010, UN-HABITAT and its partners launched a new global drive to promote better cities for all. At a time of global financial crisis, the World Urban Campaign takes on a special sense of urgency in the drive to reduce urban poverty, cut back on energy consumption, cut air and water pollution, and promote cleaner, safer, greener cities where all feel they belong, whether rich or poor. It will promote 21st century planning, effect land and housing policy, stronger local authorities, and better climate change and disaster preparedness, cities without slums, water and sanitation for all. As humanity now moves into a new urban era, the idea is to take these urgent issues as campaign themes to exploit the combined power and influence of governments, local authorities, the media, business, and others to achieve policy change, bring in new thinking and awareness of the importance of living in a better and smarter urban world. In short, to consider urbanisation as something positive and wonderful, as something that can enhance humanity’s greatest legacy – our cities.

UN-HABITAT for a better urban future


The World Urban Forum The Forum was established by the United Nations to examine one of the most pressing problems facing the world today: rapid urbanization and its impact on communities, cities, economies, climate change and policies. Today, it is the world’s premier conference on managing growing towns and cities. Since its inception at the first meeting in Nairobi, Kenya in 2002, this conference held every two years has grown in size and stature.

A unique feature of the World Urban Forum is that is its one of the most open gatherings on the international stage. It brings together government leaders, ministers, mayors, diplomats, members of national, regional and international associations of local governments, non-governmental and community organizations in open dialogue and exchange. Also invited are professionals, academics, grassroots women’s organizations, youth, slum dwellers groups, the private sector and the media as partners working for smarter and inclusive cities. Each session builds on the lessons and success of the previous events. It is at the Forum where we examine the future of cities, both a difficult and easy task. It is uncomplicated because we all know the right words for what we wish a future city to be. We want “green”, “carbon free” and “environmentally sustainable” cities; cities with all the amenities at easy reach, from schools to hospitals,


UN-HABITAT for a better urban future

to markets and workplaces. We want accessible, frequent and reliable public transport and communications technologies to solve all of our needs. But the difficult part however is the reality of our existence. Soon 80 percent of the world’s population will be living in cities, and the pressures will become greater and greater as time goes by. Therefore, when addressing the idea of sustainable, better and smarter cities, those gathering at the Forum always have to keep in mind the poorest of the poor and aim for the very best models at the same time. To achieve these aims – all enshrined in the Millennium Development Goals and the Habitat Agenda– better urban planning, good governance, proper financing and gender and youth policies incorporated at every level – are some of the roads to smarter and more sustainable cities of the future – a future that can be very exciting indeed.

World Habitat Day This is another occasion where the agency brings urban matters to the international agenda each year. The United Nations has designated the first Monday of October every year as World Habitat Day. The idea is to reflect on the state of our towns and cities and the basic right of all, to adequate shelter. It is also intended to remind the world of its collective responsibility for the future of the human habitat. Spearheaded from a different city around the world every year, the event

The fifth Session of the World Urban Forum, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 2010. PHOTO: Š UN-HABITAT/ Julius Mwelu

UN-HABITAT for a better urban future


Students at a mobile training centre in Uberlandia, Brazil. PHOTO: © Alessandro Scotti

always linked to an urban theme is also celebrated in cities, towns, villages, at schools, city halls and on local television in more and more countries. It is on World Habitat Day that the agency anoints the winners of the Habitat Scroll of Honour Awards.

Knowledge exchange UN-HABITAT also runs a special website called the Urban Gateway ( which operates as a


UN-HABITAT for a better urban future

virtual meeting place and special forum for the global urban community. It is a place where professionals can leave their CVs, where an architect can post an essay on energy efficient buildings, where experts can discuss how to cut the costs of air conditioning in hot countries, and heating in cool countries, where a women’s group in Kenya can learn how another women’s group in Latin America found a novel way of ensuring gender parity. The gateway promotes global discussion on how to manage our towns and cities better in a rapidly

urbanising world, giving all involved a special place to exchange best practices, collaborate on projects, share the latest thinking on urban matters and trends, find expertise, and mobilise resources for urban initiatives.

Training and capacity building The multiple challenges facing local communities and governments and the every approaching Millennium Development Goals deadline demand capable, adaptable, and stable local institutions. UN-HABITAT places the capacity development of our national partner institutions at the core of its work, as development will only be made sustainable through such interventions. The agency therefore supports normative approaches and operational activities which target institutional capacity development. This is a holistic approach to capacity development and concentrates on institutions as a whole – their individuals, the organizations, and the broader enabling environment in which they operate through three main areas: institutional development tools and approaches; education and learning, and communities of practice. In the first area, the agency works to develop methodologies for assessing and developing capacities for the wide range of institutions with which UN-HABITAT works. These methodologies focus on improving the knowledge and skills through training and study tours, supporting change agents to lead improvement efforts, conducting diagnostics of institutional strengths and weaknesses, and concrete organizational devel-

opment approaches that improve their business processes and management systems. Part of this effort includes training programmes targeting local government officials and staff in a range of areas including leadership, municipal finance, local economic development, strategic planning, governance, gender, climate change and land management. In terms of education and learning, the efforts are focused on engaging with a wide array of universities, think-tanks, regional and national training providers in an effort to both develop the institutional tools, enhance curricula and teaching methods to help bridge the gap between education and practice in the field of sustainable urban development. The agency also provides platforms for the development of communities of practitioners from the private sector, governments, NGOs, universities, and others for the purposes of learning, discussion, collaboration, looking at context-based experiences, and jointly solving problems across a wide array of thematic areas.

UN-HABITAT for a better urban future


Strategic Urban planning, good governance Following a re-appraisal of urban planning about fifteen years ago, UN-HABITAT started promoting participatory urban planning as an element of good urban governance. At the Istanbul City Summit in 1996, the idea of participatory urban planning was subsumed under the broader urban governance framework, which emerged as one of the main outcomes of Habitat II. In more recent years, UN-Habitat has worked closely with urban planning professional associations and others in a new drive to promote urban planning for the 21st century, within the broad context of sustainable urban development. One significant outcome of this new drive was the preparation and publication of UN-HABITAT’s Global Report on Human Settlements 2009, titled Planning Sustainable Cities. UN-HABITAT believes that in terms of process, urban plans should be prepared in a democratic way, involving civil society organizations and all concerned stakeholders. Experts should mainly play a facilitating role. In terms of product, strategic plans, or city development strategies, should replace master plans. The focus should be on a shared vision for the city (linking social development, economic productivity and environmental protection) and on multi-partner action plans to translate this vision into reality by addressing priority issues. On implementation, local authorities should be in


UN-HABITAT for a better urban future

the driving seat, as the level of government closest to the citizens. Decision-making authority and resources should be decentralised and local capacities strengthened. Planning and urban management should be closely integrated. In terms of strategy, the agency sees planning as a tool, its effectiveness dependent directly on the quality of the urban governance system. Good urban governance and appropriate urban policy should almost automatically lead to good planning. Several programmes of UN-HABITAT have demonstrated that this new type of city planning is feasible, provided it is focused, locally-owned and politically supported. Although it seems too early to claim that urban planning is back on the global development scene, a new and more strategic approach is being promoted by international organisations and has already been adopted by several developed countries. It is a complex process requiring participatory discussions, commitment and continuity in leadership, as well as adequate capacities at different levels. This process is hardly affordable for least developed countries (LDCs), most of which often lack institutional capacity, financial resources and clear policies. The challenge for UN-HABITAT, therefore, is to identify and promote a minimalist approach to urban planning, i.e. an approach that generally respects the above-mentioned criteria, while simultaneously

focusing on very few top priorities considered as essential for guiding urban development. Essentially, this approach can be described as affordable, participatory and strategic. By definition, the minimalist planning approach should not be comprehensive but selective. The process should mobilise civil society and political organizations in the definition of the vision (“the city we want”) and priority areas (“hotspots”) through popular consultations. In terms of product, it should prioritise infrastructure development, with emphasis (especially in LDCs) on primary road and water networks and on pricing and municipal finance.

Implementation should include a strong component on institutional strengthening, particularly at the local level. The strategy should preferably be associated with a review/reform of urban governance legislation, rules and practices. Of course planning requires maximum political commitment to ensure impact and sustainability. With such commitment, urban planning can certainly become affordable and useful. But urban planners, and other professionals involved in urban planning, should also accept to play a more modest and more targeted role in the management of urban affairs.

UN-HABITAT has created a new network of partners

of mitigation, better planned cities, more efficient and effective public transport, and more compact communities not only reduce energy consumption and pollution, but also contribute to social inclusion and cohesion. In terms of adaptation, helping our cities protect lives and property from extreme weather patterns is not only a means of promoting resilience but also a central strategy to improve the living conditions and safety of the poor and the most vulnerable members of society.

called the Sustainable Urban Development Network (SUD-Net). This network is driven by UN-HABITAT’s vision of vibrant and pro-poor urban economic growth that is achieved without causing irreparable and long-term damage to the environment.

The network is dedicated to helping Habitat Agenda partners apply strategies that will reduce the ecological footprint of cities while protecting property, stimulating pro-poor local economic development, and combating social exclusion and poverty. In terms

UN-HABITAT for a better urban future


Security in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. PHOTO: © UN-HABITAT/Alessandro Scotti

UN-HABITAT’s runs programmes designed to help make our cities safer, bring relief in countries suffering the aftermath of war or natural disasters, promote sustainable cities, good governance and support a group of priority towns. Its experts work with governments, local authorities, civil society organisations and the poorest of the urban poor themselves. In some countries of the world, crime problems have been exacerbated by a proliferation of weapons,


UN-HABITAT for a better urban future

drugs, unemployment and delinquency. UN-HABITAT provides local authorities and the police with support in crime prevention. It also helps cities and towns create the capacity to address urban insecurity and help establish a culture of crime prevention. In many countries, the agency has conducted street safety audits to get an idea of how safe the streets are for women – a measure of well a city really works.

Inclusive cities and governance The divide between the wealthier and poorer segments of society in our cities stands out as one of the major paradoxes – some would say scandals – of this early 21st century. After all, cities concentrate what has become known as the “urban advantage”, namely, a bundle of opportunities which, from basic services to health, education, amenities and gainful employment, have never been so favourable to human development. Yet all too frequently, cities also concentrate high, unacceptable degrees of inequality as these opportunities elude major segments of the population. Good governance gives us inclusive cities where equal access to urban services and opportunities are less restricted by all kinds of invisible and very visible barriers. Look, for example, at the growing number of gated communities in many countries that continue to shut the have-nots out. Walk along a street in the capital of a developing country, and you can see the well-appointed local headquarters of a worldwide business consultancy facing a row of tiny, ramshackle shops catering to the needs of low-income residents. More often than not, the bumpy stretch of mud which passes for a street along that row will lead to a slum–the cruellest form of this divide. UN-HABITAT helps cities identify urban governance priorities and assess their progress towards the quality of city-life. The results of its research are fed into the

State of the World’s Cities and the Global Report on Human Settlements. The other paradox – or scandal – of early 21st century cities is that the opportunities that come with the “urban advantage” are often closed to women, children and young people with vital roles to play in our collective future. Beyond livelihoods, health and personal development, the whole continuum of deprivations that characterizes the excluded side of town has a tangible impact on bodies and minds, stunting the physical and intellectual potential of millions among present and future generations. UN-HABITAT works with national and local govern-ments to include the poor and marginalized into mainstream urban life. This calls for a redistribution of broader opportunities as well. It also brings improved quality of life, human capital as well as enhanced political and cultural inclusion, along with cleaner, greener cities, and places that are good for business for everyone. Experience shows that lack of inclusionary planning is only planning for trouble. Any sustainable vision for the future of any city can only be of an inclusive, not divisive nature. This is why we feel the need for a vigorous World Urban Campaign spearheaded by the 100 Cities Initiative so that the best practices and models can be better emulated around the world.

UN-HABITAT for a better urban future


Low income residential estate in Uberlandia, Brazil. PHOTO: © UN-HABITAT /Alessandro Scotti

Pro-poor land and housing Pro-poor Land and Housing is a key component of UNHABITAT’s strategic plan for the years 2008-2013. Its aim is to help national governments, cities and communities develop pro-poor and age-sensitive housing, land management and property administration. The agency also works to develop practical and sound approaches to urban land. UN-HABITAT works to develop normative approaches to urban land, innovative residential tenures, affordable land management systems, land-related regulatory and legal frameworks, with a particular emphasis on pro-poor and women’s rights and empowerment. One of the key weapons here is the Global Land Tool Network (GLTN). The GLTN objective is to contribute to poverty alleviation and the Millennium Development Goals through land reform, improved land management and security of tenure. The Network has developed a global land partnership and its members include international civil society organizations, inter-


UN-HABITAT for a better urban future

national finance institutions, international research and training institutions, donors and professional bodies. The GLTN is a demand driven network where many individuals and groups have come together to address this global problem. For further information, and registration, visit the GLTN website at In the agency’s quest to achieve the Habitat Agenda goal of Adequate Shelter for All, it also helps establish housing policy, proper shelter strategies, and affordable housing provision. It promotes a right-based approach and coordinates the work of the Advisory Group on Forced Evictions (AGFE). It also fosters cooperative housing as part of the strategy for developing affordable housing options for poor households, and encourages the use of energy-efficient building materials. For further information, please write an e-mail to:


Water, sanitation, urban mobility Water and sanitation At a time when nearly all cities have entered the 21st Century facing a water crisis, UN-HABITAT closely monitors the state of water and sanitation in urban areas around the world. The explosive growth of towns and cities in the past 30 years since the birth of UN-HABITAT is depleting previously plentiful water resources, and this is felt particularly in arid parts of Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. Proper water conservation and management is vital for social and environmental sustainability of cities. In our rapidly urbanising world, water scarcity is a potential source of strife. Rapid population growth in urban areas has already created environmental degradation – a task UN-HABITAT works to redress. The Millennium water target promotes better service coverage by advocating pro-poor investments in urban water, sanitation, waste management and in-

Who is connected to drinking water in the cities? Percentage of urban households connected to improved drinking water in selected countries.

UN-HABITAT for a better urban future


1 km of

1 km

1 km o

rail in Eg ypt is u sed by 40,837 million passengers

of ra il in S

outh A

frica i s used

,957 pan is used by 245 f rail in Ja

by 20,24 7 million p

21 ia is used by 1 km of road in Ethiop

1 k m o f r oa d


a of ro 1 km

million passengers

d in G

in Jap a

9,113 million people

n is use d by 947,56 2 million people

,700 million people is used by 1,062 ermany

co is used by 422,915 million p 1 km of road in Mexi eople

y 76,159 million passengers il in France is used b 1 km of r a

1 km of rail in Russian Federatio n is used by 177,639 million passengers

1 km of road in USA is used by 7,814,

575 mi llion pe opl


is used by 737 million passengers 1 km of rail in Chile 1 km of road in Austra

How much is rail transport used?

How much is road transport used?

Millions of people per kilometer 1 person=10,000 million people per kilometer

frastructure. It encourages and supports institutional reforms at local government, national and regional levels for efficient and equitable service delivery, particularly in low-income peri-urban settlements. It also helps national governments and local authorities build capacity for effective and efficient provision and delivery of water, sanitation and infrastructure. UN-HABITAT also manages a Water and Sanitation Trust Fund established in 2002 to help cities and their municipalities reach out to the poorest of the poor. It runs two special programmes: the Water for African Cities Programme to help African cities manage


UN-HABITAT for a better urban future

lia is used

by 290,28 0

Millions of people per kilometer 1 person=100,000 million people per kilometer

growing water demand and protect their fresh water resources from the increasing pollution loads from cities; and the Water for Asian Cities Programme in a region of the world where almost two-thirds of people lack clean water and adequate sanitation. The two programmes work in close collaboration with the African Development Bank and the Asian Development Bank. Its specialist publications on water and sanitation include an Annual Report as well the award-winning, Solid Waste Management in the World’s Cities.

mill ion


op le

Uruguay 100%

Bahrain 100%

Algeria 98%

Brazil 84%

Urban mobility As our cities grow bigger and bigger, along with traffic jams spewing pollution into the air, sapping fuel that could be better utilized, UN-HABITAT is promoting more efficient and user-friendly transport systems around the world. Guided by the Habitat Agenda, the Declaration of Cities and Other Human Settlements in the New Millennium, Governing Council Resolution GC 22/8 on Guidelines on access to basic services for all, UNHABITAT promotes sustainable urban mobility around the world. We advocate land use and urban design patterns which reduce the need for motorised travel by backing up national and local plans for better, smarter public transport, along with improved infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists. Expanded sustainable urban mobility is key for improving access to housing and employment options for all parts of society. In addition to its importance as an urban service for moving people and goods, the transport infrastructure and service sector itself is a significant generator of wealth and employment. If urban regions around the world want to achieve sustainable development, conserve energy and cut pollution, they have to pay significant attention to strategies which address climate change for city-related adaptation and mitigation measures. Fast growing cities will only be able to meet the housing and employment needs of their populations

Senegal 52%

India 52%

Romania 52% Kiribati 46%

Haiti 29%

Eritria 14%

How many people living in cities have acces to improved sanitaion?

One toilet represents 10% of the urban population with access to improved sanitation

in addition to reducing their environmental footprint if they establish metropolitan mobility systems and settlement patterns that provide equal access to mobility, while at the same time ensuring that environmentally friendly modes of transport and low-carbon economic and spatial growth patterns are promoted.

UN-HABITAT for a better urban future


Better urban economies and financing UN-HABITAT seeks to strengthen human settlements financing by improving access to finance for housing and infrastructure, particularly for the urban poor. This is done by using innovative financial mechanisms and institutional capacity to leverage the contributions of communities, local authorities, the private sector, Government and international financial institutions. It promotes innovative financing mechanisms for dealing with the Millennium slum target, using a mechanism called the Slum Upgrading Facility (SUF), another called Experimental Reimbursable Seeding Operations (ERSO), and other so-called Innovative Financial Mechanisms. It also helps Member States improve the effectiveness, efficiency and accessibility of existing housing finance systems. On municipal finance, it works to find innovative ways of financing urban development and basic urban services and infrastructure, especially means of tapping into the private sector, and Community Based Initiatives, including Women’s Land Access Trusts. The Slum Upgrading Facility works as a technical cooperation and seed capital facility which mobilizes domestic capital for slum upgrading projects and activities. It does this on the premise that slums can be upgraded successfully when the existing slum dwellers are involved in the planning and design of upgrading projects.


UN-HABITAT for a better urban future

For the most part, slum dwellers have the ability to provide resources for the housing themselves, but want to be secure in their new or upgraded homes. Finance then becomes a matter of coordinating the expectations of residents, with the facilities made available by municipalities, and the containment of risk as perceived by the financing institutions – banks, capital markets, etc. The Facility works to make slum upgrading projects attractive to retail banks, property developers, housing finance institutions, service providers, micro-finance institutions, and utility companies. Commercial banks need to expand their markets, but to do this, they need very clear information on which to make their assessment of risk. Good information is key to ensuring that everyone understands the risks involved and how they have been assessed. This can only be achieved with communities, capital markets and local government working together. The Facility is designed to promote the dynamics between people, finance, and politics for upgrading low income residential areas. The Experimental Reimbursable Seeding Operations or ERSO as it is called, is designed to get UN-HABITAT Governing Council Resolution 21/10 of 2007 working through the establishment of a trust fund within the United Nations Habitat and Human Settlements Foundation, for a four-year 2007 to 2011 probation period

A Souk in Tetouan, Morocco. PHOTO: UN-HABITAT/Alessandro Scotti

to support the introduction of experimental reimbursable seeding operations as well as other innovative financial mechanisms. The idea is that ERSO will provide seed-capital to domestic financial institutions (banks, microfinance institutions) in the form of loans or credit enhancements. It does this in combination with technical assistance activities to catalyze investments in pro-poor housing, related infrastructure and upgrading, in close partnerships with national and local governments and support by local intermediaries.

UN-HABITAT for a better urban future


Residents fleeing floods in Pakistan. UN-HABITAT is increasingly

climate change

addressing the adverse effects of climate change. PHOTO: © UN-HABITAT

Cities and climate change – cutting across all focus areas

specifically work on Cities and Climate Change. It acknowledged that cities are major contributors as well as primary victims of climate change and recognized the important role and contribution of cities in devising and implementing climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies.

UN-HABITAT’s activities are perhaps unique, in that it deals with the other side of the climate debate – the most important urban dimension. The 22nd session of the Governing Council mandated UN-HABITAT to


UN-HABITAT for a better urban future

In response to the resolution, UN-HABITAT developed a Climate Change Strategy 2010-2013 highlighting the importance of implementation and action across the agency. As part of this strategy, UN-HABITAT launched the Cities and Climate Change Initiative. The initiative aims to promote dialogue between national and local levels, to raise awareness of the particular vulnerability of the urban poor to climate change, and to develop local government capacity to respond to climate change challenges. It is no coincidence that global climate change has become a leading international development issue at the same time as the world has become urbanized. The way we plan, manage, operate and consume energy in our cities will have a critical role in our quest to reverse climate disruption and its impact. Seventy-five percent of commercial energy is consumed in urban and peri-urban areas. In addition, 80 per cent of all waste is generated from our cities and up to 60 per cent of Greenhouse Gas Emissions which cause global climate change emanate from cities. The impacts of climate change will be felt strongly in the years to come. If sea levels rise by just one meter, many major coastal cities will be under threat. More extreme weather patterns such as intense storms are another. Tropical cyclones and storms, in recent years have affected more than 120 million people around the world, mostly in developing and least developed countries. Indeed, in some parts of the world, inland flooding is occurring more often and on a more intense basis.

Largest sources of energy consumption in selected cities in high income countries



middle income countries


low income countries

The world is also witnessing more frequent droughts. In many parts of the world, climate refugees from rural areas that have been hit by drought or flooding aggravate the migration to cities. The UN predicts that there will be millions of environmental migrants by 2020, and climate change is one of the major drivers.

UN-HABITAT for a better urban future


Cities at risk: Sea level rise One building represents the country’s total population (tallest buildings represent countries with over 150 million people)

Thailand Bangladesh Indonesia India




The flooded part shows how many people in urbn areas live in low elevation coastal areas (in millions)












Therefore, there is no doubt that climate change exacerbates existing social, economic and environmental problems, while bringing on new challenges. The most affected today, and in future, will be the world’s urban poor – and chief among them, the millions of slum dwellers. UN-HABITAT’s Cities in Climate Change Initiative, supports the efforts of government agencies and local authorities in adopting more holistic and participatory approaches to urban environmental planning



UN-HABITAT for a better urban future

and management, and the harnessing of ecologically sound technologies. The Initiative works on the premise that the measures required for adaptation and mitigation are the same – namely better land use planning, better urban management, more participatory governance focusing on more resilient housing and smarter infrastructure and basic services. The challenges facing cities with regard to climate change are numerous and daunting, and no entity, public or private, governmental or non-governmental, academic or practitioner, can face these challenges alone. The agency is facing these challenges in partnership with United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) and ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, through its contributions to a number of international events and conferences, and in its role as an observer at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. And in partnership with the Cities Alliance, the World Bank and the United Nations Environment Programme, we are refining methods help cities to measure their climate footprint and assess their climate change vulnerability. UN-HABITAT has also started collaborative implementation with the private sector and its work on cities and climate change will have a special focus on integrating the dimensions of youth, gender and decentralization.

Disaster response In recent years, the world has witnessed an increasing series of disasters that have resulted in the dramatic loss of human life, the destructions of homes, property, infrastructure, services and indeed the displacement of entire communities. UN-HABITAT’s experience shows that in most post-crisis situations, the sudden disruption of service provision and the destruction of critical infrastructure represent a major threat for the urban survivors. This is especially the case where critical infrastructure and services were sub-standard in the first place. A key area of work for the agency is ensuring prevention, protection and early recovery of basic service provision and critical infrastructure for water, sanitation, waste management and hygiene systems. This also includes immediate support for health provision, education, and governance systems. To achieve this, we prioritize the involvement of the survivors themselves. While the response of the international community to these recent disasters has been generous and, in most cases, prompt, the scale of destruction has highlighted two key questions: how can we prevent such devastation in the future? And what can we do to help

the victims restore their livelihoods and their homes in a sustainable manner? The answer to both these questions lies in large part on sustainable human settlements planning and management. Prevention can be greatly enhanced through the adoption and enforcement of more appropriate land-use planning and building codes. The rapid restoration of homes and livelihoods, on the other hand, is more complex and difficult to achieve. It requires that humanitarian relief operations be conceived from the very start as a bridge to development.

Port au Prince, Haiti after the earthquake in 2010. PHOTO: Š Phuong Tran/IRIN

UN-HABITAT for a better urban future


The number and plight of internally displaced persons living for months, sometimes years in situations of prolonged dependency argue in favour of more sustainable solutions that combine short-term emergency efforts with the longer-term development. The suffering after earthquakes in Haiti, Pakistan or China, volcanoes in Indonesia, floods and droughts in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and wars in many countries have shown UN-HABITAT that there is a dire need for governments, local authorities and the international community to adopt early warning systems for cities, towns and villages. Whether the disasters are natural or of our own making, we must be prepared for them so that we reduce their impact. During post reconstruction, special attention should be paid to the environment, women’s secure tenure, rights to land and adequate housing among other matters. UN-HABITAT always presses home the message that the survivors should be treated as assets and partners in the rebuilding.

UN-HABITAT is a member of the UN Executive Committee on Humanitarian Affairs (ECHA), as well as the Inter Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Working Groups in Geneva. Working actively with the IASC on humanitarian response, UN-HABITAT is committed to assuming a stronger role and responsibility, under our mandate, in strengthening the collective UN response to shelter, land and property matters in post-disaster situations and to further the implementation of paragraph 111 of the 2005 World Summit Outcome pertaining to internally displaced persons. UN-HABITAT offers technical expertise and a network of experts to service global and field partners, local communities and local governments in improving the provision of services and ensuring adequate critical infrastructure protection and rehabilitation. The blueprint UN-HABITAT uses is to support our partners and help develop and refine the practice of building back better, thereby exploiting this “paradox of crisis”

The agency is working or has worked in Afghani-

the world helping governments, communities and

stan, Angola, Bangladesh, Burundi, the Caribbean,

local authorities recover from conflict or disasters.

Central Asia, China, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Indo-

In concert with other UN humanitarian bodies, UN-

nesia, Iran, Iraq, Kenya, Kosovo, Malawi, Mozam-

HABITAT’s new Strategic Policy on Human Settle-

bique, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Rwanda, Serbia

ments and Crisis enables it to provide expert services

and Montenegro, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sri Lanka,

as part of a carefully coordinated humanitarian

Sudan, Timor Leste and Vietnam. It has an esti-


mated 130 international staff working with more than 2,300 national staff in crisis situations around


UN-HABITAT for a better urban future

Country activities With a vast global reach, UN-HABITAT runs more than 200 technical cooperation programmes and projects in about 72 countries. The countries include many of the poorest in the world like Afghanistan, Somalia, Haiti, and Nepal, just to cite four examples. Much of the work is aimed at strengthening the urban fabric, helping slum dwellers with better shelter and basic services such as water and sanitation. Most of the programmes are run by UN-HABITAT staff who are nationals of their own countries, proudly trying to improve their cities or to rebuild after disasters. It is apt here to pay our own colleagues, these unsung heroes, special tribute. They include more than 1,000 employees helping rebuild Afghanistan, hundreds in Iraq, and other places of conflict who daily put their lives on the line to make their world better for their people, thus making our global village a safer place. UN-HABITAT’s operational work around the world is coordinated from four regional offices. These are based in Fukuoka, Japan, covering the Asia-Pacific, Warsaw covering Eastern Europe and the former Soviet states, Nairobi for Africa and the Arab world, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for Latin America and the Caribbean. In accordance with UN-HABITAT’s new strategic plan, the operational activities focus on the following priorities: promoting shelter for all; improving urban governance; reducing urban poverty; improving

the living environment; and managing post-disaster reconstruction. Acting as a catalyst in the mobilization of technical cooperation, UN-HABITAT is supporting the implementation of the Habitat Agenda at the local, national and regional levels and seeking to apply the Millennium Development Goals at the local, neighbourhood level. Lessons learnt from operational activities are also used by the agency to formulate global policy guidelines. UN-HABITAT employs about 45 Habitat Programme Managers, all of them nationals of the countries in which they work.

UN-HABITAT for a better urban future


UN-HABITAT Headquaters energy saving building opened in 2011. PHOTO: © UNep

Excellence in management In keeping with the United Nations global reform policy, UN-HABITAT has streamlined its management and its work programmes under guidelines established by the Governing Council. UN-HABITAT utilizes effective planning practices and procedures which it keeps under constant review. It ensures the sound financial and administrative management, as well as the proper servicing of funding partners and compliance with agreements. The agency manages its resources to ensure that it meets the requirements stipulated by donor governments.

Resources Over half of UN-HABITAT’s financing comes from government and inter-governmental donors. Other United 34

UN-HABITAT for a better urban future

Nations agencies and the World Bank contribute to joint projects, while some funds come from foundations, local authorities and other institutions. In addition, the United Nations headquarters contributes to the regular budget for core mandated activities. A major proportion of UN-HABITAT’s total income is received as earmarked funds, targeted by donors to specific projects in specific countries. The rest, received as general purpose or core funds, is allocated to projects in line with the priorities outlined in the UN-HABITAT’s strategic plan, ensuring that all areas are covered in a balanced manner. The aim is to increase the non-earmarked multiyear funding to ensure predictable and sustainable funding for human settlements work.

Planning ahead UN-HABITAT’s Medium-Term Strategic and Institutional Plan for 2008-2013 is comprised of two main areas of action: a strategic component and an institutional component. The strategic component is driven by an ambitious vision and road map for sustainable urbanisation. This vision is of a world where all women, men and children living in urban areas can gain access to decent housing, clean water and basic sanitation. It is also a vision of a world where humanity can engage in its economic pursuits without compromising the ability of future generations to do so. In an increasingly and rapidly urbanising world, such a vision and road map are critical to the attainment of the Habitat Agenda and the Millennium Development Goals. The plan calls for enhanced partnerships, and UNHABITAT will marshal the goodwill, the know-how and the resources of all spheres of government and civil society to focus sharply on the key determinants for sustainable urbanisation and inclusive urban development. These areas are: land and housing for all;

participatory planning and governance; environmentally sound infrastructure and services; and innovative housing and urban finance, climate change measures, and better public transport options. The plan is achievable because it builds on the growing realization of the international community that urbanisation, despite all of its chaotic manifestations, represents a unique opportunity - a positive force - that can and must be harnessed to support economic growth and social advancement in a globalizing world economy. On the institutional component, the plan aims to fulfil UN-HABITAT’s contribution to UN reform. A key component is management excellence focusing on enhanced accountability, transparency, results-based monitoring and reporting.

UN-HABITAT for a better urban future


United Nations Human Settlements Programme P.O. Box 30030, GPO Nairobi, 00100, Kenya Telephone: +254 20 762 3120

UN-HABITAT Brochure 2011 (English Language Version)  

At the dawn of a new urban era, with most of humanity now living in cities, UN-HABITAT is at the front line of the battle against fast growi...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you