With just over two weeks left before the observance of this year’s World Habitat Day, preparations for the ceremony are in high gear across the globe.
From Africa through Asia to Europe and the Americas, governments, civic bodies as well as NGOs are laying out elaborate plans to mark this year’s event whose theme is ‘Harmoniuos Cities’ to be celebrated on October 6.
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.
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 urban development, poverty alleviation, improved land and housing rights, and providing access to basic urban services.
World Habitat Day this year comes on the eve of the fourth session of the World Urban Forum in Nanjing, China 3-6 November. The Forum, the world's premier conference on managing our growing towns and cities, will also be the occasion of the launch of UN-HABITAT's flagship biennial publication, the State of the World's Cities.
The United Nations chose the theme of Harmonious Cities for the Forum and World Habitat Day 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.
Some highlights of the World Habitat Day celebrations include Benin where the government is organizing a “National Habitat Week” from 4th to 10th 2008 at Lokossa, a town in southern part of the country with debates on this year’s theme as well as on the mandate of UN-HABITAT being lined up.
In India, the Building Materials & Technology Promotion Council, an inter-Ministerial organisation under the Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation, is bringing out a special issue of Newsletter which has been renamed as ‘Nirman Sarika’, on the occasion of WHD 2008.
The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP) in the United States has organised a free audio training session on ‘The Human Right to Housing’, to mark World Habitat Day. Further information is available on this website by clicking on the World Habitat Day icon.
Last week, a high-level delegation led by Angola's Deputy Minister of Urban Affairs and the Environment visited UN-HABITAT headquarters in Nairobi to finalise plans for World Habitat Day.