5 October 2011

World Habitat Day focuses on cities and climate change

The United Nations has designated the first Monday of October every year as World Habitat Day. This year, World Habitat Day was celebrated on 3 October 2011 and the Global Celebration was hosted by the Government of Mexico.

The topic this year is "Cities and Climate Change". UN-HABITAT chose the Cities and climate change theme for the 2011 because it is important to see what cities are doing about climate disruption: This means their pollution and environmental footprint, as well the impact in turn of climate change problems on cities, especially on the poorest and those least able to cope when a weather-related disaster strikes.

In a separate statement, UN Special Rapporteurs on Housing Raquel Rolnik and on Internationally Displaced Persons Chaloka Beyani underscored the adverse effects of climate change on informal settlements and sub-standard housing.

"States and the international community can no longer afford to ignore the specific vulnerabilities of informal settlers to climate change-induced disasters, and the increasing risks they face," they warned, further noting that close to a third of the global population live in slums vulnerable to serious environmental hazards.

Last year statement from the UN Secretary General on occasion of 2010 World Habitat Day was exactly about the billion people who live in slums and other sub-standard housing around: "The urban poor are too often condemned to a life without basic rights, hope of an education or decent work."

He further mentioned that "Lacking adequate provision of freshwater, electricity, sanitation or health care, they suffer privations that all too often provide the tinder for the fires of social unrest".


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