World Habitat Day 2020: Housing for all – a better urban future
As part of World Habitat Day, we reflect on the importance of our towns and cities to our economy and wellbeing.
Today, Monday 5 October 2020, has been designated by the United Nations as World Habitat Day. This gives us a chance to reflect on the state of our towns and cities and to remind us that we have the responsibility and the power to help shape the future for our town and cities.
Since 2007, more than half of the world’s population has been living in our cities. While cities are centres of economic growth and employment, they also account for around 70% of global emissions and consume 60% of the world’s resources.
Having safe and adequate housing and shelter is a basic right for all and COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of our homes and our local environment for our physical and mental wellbeing.
Approximately 1.8 billion people were living in slums and inadequate accommodation worldwide before the pandemic began. Around 3 billion people did not have access to basic hygiene or handwashing facilities. These living conditions put them at greater risk of infection as the pandemic spread across the globe.
It is clear from the statistics that the spread of the pandemic has been greatest in densely populated areas, both in the UK and worldwide. This represents a danger not only to public health but also to the global economy and the fabric of society.
The ambitions to tackle these issues are set out in Goal 11 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs), Sustainable Cities and Communities. As part of the recovery from the pandemic, the UN is working with local and national governments to help them develop local and community-based solutions that build in greater resilience to future pandemics in urban areas. We can all help to shape this vision by being advocates for policies that transform our communities and neighbourhoods into safer, cleaner and more inclusive places..