World Habitat Day 2008


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.

The 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 improvements in urban infrastructure and services, and a new urban development strategy.

The United Nations chose the theme of Harmonious Cities for 2008 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.

In an age where for the first time half of humanity is now living in towns and cities, the quest for adequate shelter for all along with basic services such as water, sanitation, electricity, decent health care, safe streets, etc., is more urgent than ever, especially in developing countries. There should also be no illusion that cities have the greatest impact on the environment and climate change. And where they are poorly managed, with weak governance structures, it is their citizens and their surrounds that suffer most.

Urgent action is thus needed to foster widespread use of new energy efficient and environmentally friendly technologies to reduce urban pollution.

Harmonious Cities are inclusive cities where everyone and every culture is at home.

Indeed, such is the importance of all these aspects of Harmonious Cities that UN-HABITAT’s main flagship report in 2008 and the fourth session of the World Urban Forum in Nanjing, China from 3-7 November will also focus on Harmonious Cities to reinforce the World Habitat Day message.

Angola to host global celebration of World Habitat Day 2008

The 2008 global celebrations of World Habitat Day will be held in the Angolan capital, Luanda. After more than 30 years of armed conflict, the country better known for land mines and guerrilla warfare is embracing a new era of peace and forging ahead with a comprehensive development plan.

Angola’s President, Mr. José Eduardo dos Santos, said that he hoped the global celebration of World Habitat Day would show how the living conditions of Angolans are being improved to achieve a lasting social, economic and environmental harmony for future generations.

The decision to take the global observance to Luanda this year was welcomed by Angola’s Minister of Urban Affairs and the Environment, Mr. Diekumpuna Sita José. He said the government’s new five-year plan for 2009-2013 included new legislation on land and urban planning so as to promote better housing delivery.

He said the Government planned to build 1 million new homes over the next five years, with work set to start this year on the construction this year of 250,000 homes. He also said slum upgrading initiatives had started in several cities.

In recent years, over 3,000 kilometers of primary and secondary roads have been built or renovated. This includes improvements to Luanda’s own roads and inter-city connections. He said that this improvement in the communication infrastructure would spur development throughout the country. There are also government plans to build or repair some 1,500 bridges, and a further 12,000 km of the national road network by 2012.

Under cooperation agreements with several governments, and mobilization of domestic resources, the oil-rich country is addressing important urban challenges. These include a significant deficit in the housing sector and lack of water and sanitation in parts of the capital Luanda and in several provincial cities. Angola’s five-year strategic plan also provides for new schools, and hospitals.

To see the events on the World Habitat Day worldwide, just click here.