The United Nations has designated the first Monday of October every year as World Habitat Day. This year, the day will be celebrated on 1 October 2012. UN Habitat is primarily concerned with improving and developing the urban environment in cities, including work in the biggest slum communities in the world.
The key objectives of UN Habitat are reflected in The Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development, strongly promoted by IFSW with our global partners IASSW and ICSW.
IFSW has been a significant contributor to UN Habitat activities and has been represented at every biennial World Urban Forum (WUF) since 2004. The 2012 WUF was held in Naples, Italy on 4 – 6 September 2012. IFSW and The Global Agenda partners were represented by former IFSW African President, Charles Mbugua. Charles is also the IFSW representative to the United Nations in Nairobi, Kenya, the seat of UN Habitat. The highly successful 2012 Forum involved 8,271 participants from 152 countries. Among other contributions, IFSW has made presentations to the WUF in partnership with community representatives of people living in slums.
UN-Habitat has chosen the theme Changing Cities, Building Opportunities because cities are the engines of growth. It is in the cities that many realize their dreams of a better life. Even if this is not achieved, still many more leave the rural areas and flock to the cities for no other reason than the promise of a better future and prosperity. This they achieve by either getting jobs or by starting businesses which at one point not only provide for the owners but even other employees thus creating jobs.
Under this theme, UN-Habitat wants to underscore the need to plan our cities better because as has also been stated, unplanned growth of cities lead to chaotic development and urban sprawl. When well planned, cities can continue to afford opportunities to both the current and future residents. This dovetails with the new UN-Habitat campaign, I am a city changer which seeks to involve all in making their cities a better place to live.
International celebrations on World Habitat Day this year will be held in Embu, Kenya, around 130 kilometres north of Nairobi, hosted by the Government of Kenya. The event will be opened by the United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN-Habitat, Dr. Joan Clos; the Minister for Housing, Hon. Soita Shitanda; Ambassador George Owuor, Permanent Representative of the Kenya Mission to United Nations Office in Nairobi (UNON) and the Mayor of Embu, Cll. Peter Muriithi Nyaga.
This venue has a special significance for former IFSW President, David N Jones. He lived near Embu in 1969, working as a volunteer teacher in a rural school, an experience which helped shape his commitment to internationalism, social justice and social work.
World Habitat Day message from the UN Habitat Executive Director
Read the reports from the World Urban Forum 2012 here