Every year, since 1985, when it was designated by the General Assembly, World Habitat Day has been celebrated on the first Monday in October. This day has been set aside by the United Nations for the world to reflect on the state of human settlements and the basic right to adequate shelter and to remind the world of its collective responsibility for the future of the human habitat.
The theme of this year’s World Habitat Day will be Cities – engines of rural development. It underlines the importance of mutually beneficial linkages that are essential for the development of both cities and rural areas. In this reciprocal relationship, urban markets provide a powerful incentive for increased rural production and income, while expanding rural markets create increased demand for production of goods manufactured in urban areas. In the long run, cities drive secondary and tertiary investment of capital derived from primary production in rural areas.
This year, the global ceremonies will be coordinated from the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, on Monday, 4 October 2004. The choice of Nairobi, Kenya, for the global celebration of the World Habitat Day this year, is to highlight the phenomenal rate and social-economic significance of the urbanization in the developing world, which Kenya represents.
For Nairobi, and for cities in Africa, Asia and Latin America, the locus today of the fastest urban growth in the world, this year’s theme highlights the importance of treating urban and rural issues holistically to maximise the positive impacts of rural-to-urban migration. It also draws on lessons learnt and best practices from the highly industrialised cities of Europe and North America where 80 per cent of the total population now live in urban areas.
The theme Cities – engines of rural development thus seeks to generate ideas on integrated approaches which reinforce the beneficial interrelationships rural and urban areas as it is only by considering cities and urban areas as part of a continuous dynamic system that we can truly create sustainable development both cities and rural areas.