World Habitat Day is the UN initiative that is aimed at promoting the basic right to adequate shelter and housing for everyone in a world which is densely populated, and has been affected by the impact of urbanisation. It is observed on the first Monday of every October, annually. This year the event falls on October 4. The theme for World Habitat Day 2021 is ‘Accelerating urban action for a carbon-free world’.
WORLD HABITAT DAY: HISTORY
The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 1985 had announced its decision to celebrate World Habitat Day annually. Following which the first World Habitat Day was observed in 1986 in Nairobi, Kenya based on the theme ‘Shelter is my right’.
Every year, different nations have been fuelling this initiative by opting for relevant themes to boost the drive to end lack of housing or shelter issues. The endeavor revolves around taking actions around – ‘Shelter and Urbanization’, ‘Housing For All- A Better Urban Future’, ‘Shelter for the Homeless’, ‘Future Cities’. These were some of the themes of the previous World Habitat Day events.
To encourage countries to find a solution to habitat problems, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme had introduced the UN-Habitat Scroll of Honour Award in 1989.
WORLD HABITAT DAY 2021: SIGNIFICANCE
The importance of such an initiative at global scale stems from the fact that the population density (diversity), poverty, natural disasters and climate crisis have posed a threat to the quality of living. Lack of proper building techniques, and poor infrastructure have led to insecurity, crisis, and chaotic situations.
The side effects of unplanned cities, rapid urbanisation and its adverse effects on the environment have given rise to many problems, including the shelter crisis. Around 70% global carbon dioxide emissions are from the urban greenhouse gas emissions, which is why the event aims to develop actionable zero-carbon plans.
The endeavor is to come up with appropriate shelter provision, highlight the plight of the homeless, think of leadership in post conflict reconstruction and improve human settlements and the quality of urban life and avoid the crisis of urban sprawl.
As after all it is the collective responsibility of all nations to safeguard the future of human habitat.