Cities are hubs for ideas, commerce, culture, science, productivity, social, human and economic development. Urban planning, transport systems, water, sanitation, waste management, disaster risk reduction, access to information, education and capacity-building are all relevant issues to sustainable urban development.
In 2008, for the first time in history, the global urban population outnumbered the rural population. This milestone marked the advent of a new 'urban millennium' and, by 2050, it is expected that two-thirds of the world population will be living in urban areas. With more than half of humankind living in cities and the number of urban residents growing by nearly 73 million every year it is estimated that urban areas account for 70 per cent of the world's gross domestic product and has therefore generated economic growth and prosperity for many.
Given the importance of this topic to global development efforts, recent movements pushing to address sustainable development from an urban perspective have taken place throughout the world. Results from this movement can be seen in the inclusion of a stand-alone goal on cities and urban development in the 2030 Agenda, Sustainable Development Goal 11, "make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable". There is also recognition of the cross-cutting nature of urban issues, which have an impact on a number of other Sustainable Development Goals, including SDGs 1, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 15, and 17, among others. UN-Habitat's complementary New Urban Agenda, adopted as the outcome document from the Habitat III Conference in 2016, seeks to offer national and local guidelines on the growth and development of cities through 2036.
Prior to the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, Millennium Development Goal 7, target 11, made a call for efforts to achieve, "a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers" by 2020.
Sustainable human settlements development was also discussed at the second and third sessions of the Commission on Sustainable Development. "Promoting sustainable human settlements development" is the subject of Chapter 7 of Agenda 21, which calls for 1) providing adequate shelter for all; 2) improving human settlements management; 3) promoting sustainable land-use planning and management; 4) promoting the integrated provision of environmental infrastructure: water, sanitation, drainage and solid waste management; 5) promoting sustainable energy and transport systems in human settlements; 6) promoting human settlements planning and management in disaster-prone areas; 7) promoting sustainable construction industry activities; and 8) promoting human resource development and capacity-building for human settlements development.
Paragraph 89 of the 2030 Agenda calls on major groups and other stakeholders, including local authorities, to report on their contribution to the implementation of the Agenda. Local and regional governments have a wealth of valuable experience in the "localization" of the 2030 Agenda, where they provide leadership in the mobilization of a wide range of stakeholders, the facilitation of "bottom-up" and inclusive processes, and the formation of multi-stakeholder partnerships.
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January 2015 SDG 11SDG 11 aims to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. In particular, its targets 11.1-11.3 aim to ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, and enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanisation and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries, by 2030. This goal also calls for strengthening efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage, significantly reducing, by 2030, the number of deaths caused and the number of people affected by disasters,
January 2002 World Urban Forum- 7Convened by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) for the first time in 2002, the World Urban Forum (WUF) is a non-legislative technical forum, hosted in a different city every two years, responsible for examining the most pressing issues currently facing at global level in the context of human settlements, including rapid urbanization and its impact on cities, communities, economies, climate change and policies.
January 2001 Istanbul +5The GA held a Special Session in June 2001 to review and assess the implementation of the Habitat Agenda, five years after its adoption. In order to evaluate the progress undergone by each country to meet the commitments and strategies announced in the Habitat Agenda, all Member States were requested to draft a report focused on local and national implementation of the Habitat Agenda.
January 1996 Habitat AgendaThe UN held a second conference on cities - Habitat II- in 1996 in Istanbul, Turkey. The conference aimed at appraising two decades of progress since Habitat I and at identifying fresh goals for the new millennium. Adopted by 171 countries, the outcome political document – the Habitat Agenda – contained over 100 commitments and 600 recommendations.
January 1992 Agenda 21 (Chap. 7)Chap. 7 of Agenda 21 is dedicated to Promoting Sustainable Human Settlement Development, whose objective is the improvement of the social, economic and environmental quality of human settlements and the living and working environments of all people, in particular the urban and rural poor.
January 1987 Our Common Future (Chap.6)Also known as the Brundtland Report, Our Common Future was published in 1987 with the aim of reaffirming the spirit of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment - the Stockholm Conference. Chapter 6 of the Report is entitled "The Urban Challenge" and focuses on the significant increase that developing world's urban population has experienced between 1940 and 1980. It also formulates projections about its future trends and urges Third World Cities to take measures to improve capacity to produce and manage their urban infrastructure, services. Furthermore, the Report identifies the problems faced by many cities in both developing and developed countries and calls governments to design explicit settlements strategies to guide the process of urbanization.
January 1985 World Habitat DayWith the adoption of Resolution 40/202 in 1985, the first Monday of October of every year has been designated by the UN GA as World Habitat Day. The first World Habitat Day was celebrated in 1986. The World Habitat Day aims at reflecting on the state of towns and cities at global level, on the basic right of all to adequate shelter and at raising awareness of what can be done at individual level to shape a better future for these settlements.
January 1976 Vancouver DeclarationHeld in Vancouver in 1976 and known as the first international UN conference to fully recognize the challenge of urbanization, Habitat I resulted in: the establishment of the precursors of UN-Habitat: the United Nations Commission on Human Settlements – an intergovernmental body – and the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (commonly referred to as “Habitat”), which served as the executive secretariat of the Commission.