The United Nations (UN) World Habitat Day (WHD) is annually observed across the globe on the first Monday of October to reflect on the state of cities and human settlements and promote the right to adequate shelter and the need for sustainable urbanization. WHD also launches Urban October.
- WHD also reminds people that they are also responsible for the habitat of future generation.
The WHD 2023 was observed on 2 October 2023.
- The WHD 2022 was observed on 3 October 2022 and the WHD 2024 will be observed on 7 October 2024.
The theme of WHD 2023 is “Resilient urban economies. Cities as drivers of growth and recovery“.
- The theme aims to call various city stakeholders to analyse the various aspects of economic slowdown experienced by cities worldwide due to COVID-19 and conflicts.
i.The 2023 global ceremony took place in the city of Baku, Azerbaijan.
ii.It was co-organized with the State Committee on Urban Planning and Architecture of the Republic of Azerbaijan under the theme ‘Resilient urban economies. Cities as drivers of growth and recovery.’
iii.This was the first celebration of WHD in the Caucasus and Central Asian region.
Note: The host city of WHD 2022 was Balıkesir, Türkiye.
i.On 17 December 1985, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a resolution (A/RES/40/202) and decided to observe the first Monday of October every year as World Habitat Day.
ii.WHD was first celebrated in 1986 with the theme “Shelter is My Right“. It was hosted by the city of Nairobi in Kenya.
Urban October: 31 days of promoting a better urban future:
i.WHD initiated Urban October, it was developed to raise awareness, promote participation, generate knowledge and engage the international community in creating a better urban future.
ii.The Urban October month begins with the WHD on the first Monday of October and concludes with World Cities Day on 31 October 2023.
- Each October, everyone interested in sustainable urbanization from national and local governments to universities, communities, etc. is encouraged to hold or participate in activities, events, and discussions.
Note: The UN World Cities Day was first celebrated in 2014.
Scroll of Honour award:
i.The UN-Habitat Scroll of Honour Award was launched by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme in 1989.
ii.It is one of the highlights of the WHD global observance and is currently the most prestigious human settlements award in the world.
Objective: It aims to acknowledge initiatives which have made outstanding contributions in various fields such as:
- Shelter provision (providing adequate, affordable, and accessible housing); Highlighting the plight of the homeless;
- Leadership in post-conflict reconstruction; and
- Developing and improving the human settlements and the quality of urban life.
iii.The Scroll of Honour Award recognizes both individuals and institutions that have made outstanding contributions to urban development.
Award: The award is a plaque engraved with the name of the winner. Up to 5 winners were and they received their awards at the global observance of World Habitat Day on 2 October 2023.
The 2023 UN-Habitat Scroll of Honour Award winners:
- ProEmployment Foundation (Fundación ProEmpleo Productivo, A.C), Mexico
- To Dubai Municipality, United Arab Emirates (UAE)
- Community Real Estate Fund for Rent (FICA – Fundo Imobiliário Comunitáriopara Aluguel), Brazil
- Assembleia de Moradores, Braga, Portugal
- EcoVironment, Sierra Leone
i.The year 2023 poses significant challenges for urban economies worldwide, with global economic growth expected to decline to approximately 2.5%, marking one of the weakest growth periods, according to the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) World Economic Outlook (WEO).
- Apart from the initial COVID-19 crisis in 2020 and the global financial crisis in 2009, this is the weakest growth experienced since 2001.
ii.To ensure lasting economic growth, the focus must be on sustainability, as emphasized by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2023.