As the world marks World Habitat Day, International Federation of Social Workers, representing over 3 Million Social Workers in over 128 member countries joins the global community in celebrating this day. Three years after the adoption of the New Urban Agenda this day marks a new shared vision for a better and more sustainable future in which all people – regardless of their economic or social status – have equal rights and access to the benefits and opportunities that towns and cities can offer.
World Urban Population is expected to nearly double by the year 2050, making urbanization, one of the twenty first century’s most transformative trends. Already many social workers around the world are involved in activities aimed at mitigating and cushioning families and communities against the pressure created by population growth in towns and cities. Examples include social workers working with communities and town planning authorities to create living spaces that are sustainable and meet the needs and aspirations of the residents. Planning process that have utilized social workers to facilitate community engagement in planning has led to significant short and long term benefits such as reduced crime, increased participation in education and higher levels of employment.
However, increasingly diminishing resources and the effects of climate change is putting unprecedented stress on natural resources such as water, food, land, and energy. Social workers are concerned that it is the poor and vulnerable who bear the brunt of these misfortunes and IFSW calls for establishment of capacity building financing models that reorient private capital, create new investment modalities that strengthen a regulatory framework to de-risk investments in order to accommodate those most adversely affected.
At this critical juncture in human history, IFSW actively supports the rethinking of planning, building, and managing the equitably use our urban space and the re-use of solid waste. This is now not an option but an imperative. As social work professionals based in communities, we know there is no single prescription for improving urbanization and achieving sustainable urban development and the needs and aspirations of communities must be included in each unique planning process. Together in partnership societies can co-construct living environments and fulfill the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals.
October 2019 / Charles Mbugua, IFSW Main Representative to the UN, Nairobi