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The theme for this year’s World Habitat Day is Accelerating urban action for a carbon-free world.

“The urgency of improving living conditions has been brought to the fore by COVID-19, which has devastated the lives of millions in cities. Access to clean water and sanitation, along with social distancing, are key responses to the pandemic. Yet in slums it has proved difficult to implement these measures. This means an increased risk of infection, not only within slums, but in whole cities”

António Guterres

Accelerating urban action for a carbon-free world

The theme recognizes that cities are responsible for some 70 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions with transport, buildings, energy, and waste management accounting for the bulk of urban greenhouse gas emissions. Events and activities during World Habitat Day will explore how national, regional and local governments and organizations, communities, academic institutions, the private sector and all relevant stakeholders can work together to create sustainable, carbon-neutral, inclusive cities and towns.

World Habitat Day will amplify the global Race to Zero Campaign and encourage local governments to develop actionable zero-carbon plans in the run-up to the international climate change summit COP26 in November 2021.

Background

The United Nations designated the first Monday of October of every year as World Habitat Day to reflect on the state of our habitats, and on the basic right of all to adequate shelter. The Day is also intended to remind the world that we all have the power and the responsibility to shape the future of our cities and towns.

In 1985 the United Nations 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.

History

World Habitat Day was first celebrated in 1986 with the theme “Shelter is My Right”. Nairobi was the host city for the observance that year. Other previous themes have included: “Shelter for the Homeless” (1987, New York); “Shelter and Urbanization” (1990, London); “Future Cities” (1997, Bonn); “Safer Cities” (1998, Dubai); “Women in Urban Governance” (2000, Jamaica); “Cities without Slums” (2001, Fukuoka), “Water and Sanitation for Cities” (2003, Rio de Janeiro), “Planning our Urban Future” (2009, Washington, D.C.), “Better City, Better Life” (2010, Shanghai, China) and Cities and Climate Change (2011, Aguascalientes, Mexico).

Scroll of Honour

The Habitat Scroll of Honour award was launched by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme in 1989. It is currently the most prestigious human settlements award in the world. Its aim is to acknowledge initiatives which have made outstanding contributions in various fields such as shelter provision, highlighting the plight of the homeless, leadership in post-conflict reconstruction, and developing and improving the human settlements and the quality of urban life. The call for nominations for this year’s award is open until 8 August 2021 and will be announced during the Global Observance of World Habitat Day.

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