The United Nations has designated the first Monday in October each year as World Habitat Day. The idea is to reflect on the state of our towns and cities and the basic right to adequate shelter for all. It is also intended to remind the world of its collective responsibility for the future of the human habitat.
The global observance of the occasion this year will be led from the Angolan capital, Luanda. The celebrations in Angola will show the world, how the country, after years of conflict, is progressing in the establishment of harmonious cities through improvements in urban infrastructure and services, and a new urban development strategy.
The United Nations chose the theme of Harmonious Cities for 2008 to raise awareness about the problems of rapid urbanization, its impact on the environment, the growth of slums, and the urbanisation of poverty as more and more people teem into towns and cities looking for a better life.
In an age where for the first time half of humanity is now living in towns and cities, the quest for adequate shelter for all along with basic services such as water, sanitation, electricity, decent health care, safe streets, etc., is more urgent than ever, especially in developing countries. There should also be no illusion that cities have the greatest impact on the environment and climate change. And where they are poorly managed, with weak governance structures, it is their citizens and their surrounds that suffer most.
Urgent action is thus needed to foster widespread use of new energy efficient and environmentally friendly technologies to reduce urban pollution.
Harmonious Cities are inclusive cities where everyone and every culture is at home.
Indeed, such is the importance of all these aspects of Harmonious Cities that UN-HABITAT’s main flagship report in 2008 and the fourth session of the World Urban Forum in Nanjing, China from 3-7 November will also focus on Harmonious Cities to reinforce the World Habitat Day message.