UN World Habitat Day 2005 to focus on cities, slums and development

5 August 2005 – With one sixth of the world’s population – one billion people – living in slums, slum upgrading and slum prevention is critical to meeting the development goals agreed on by world leaders, the United Nations agency for human settlements said today as it announced the theme for World Habitat Day.

The theme for this year’s Habitat Day, which was set by the UN as the first Monday of October and falls on 3 October 2005, will be “The Millennium Development Goals and the City,” according to the agency, UN-HABITAT.

The event, celebrated in cities around the world, will be spearheaded this year from the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, to remind the world that countless thousands of homes were destroyed last December by the tsunami killer waves that devastated Banda Aceh and hundreds of other settlements on the coasts of the Indian Ocean, the agency said.

UN-HABITAT’s Executive Director, Anna Tibaijuka, will be travelling to Jakarta for the occasion. She will stress the urgent need for global action to tackle the slow-motion tsunami of growing urban poverty in Africa, Asia and Latin America. She will also present awards for achievements in the provision of shelter and sustainable urban development.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are a set of eight ambitious targets for reducing the impact of poverty, illiteracy, hunger, unsafe water, disease and urban and environmental degradation, agreed upon at the UN’s Millennium Summit in 2000. Targets include improving the living conditions of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020, and halving the amount of people who lack access to safe drinking water.

UN-HABITAT is working with a number of international and civil society organizations, cities and governments to realize those targets. Its Global Campaign on Urban Governance and its Global Campaign for Secure Tenure are connected to that work through a series of UN-HABITAT programmes, mainly in developing countries that shoulder the heaviest poverty burdens.

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