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Resources for Speakers on Global Issues


Land and housing

Pro-poor Land and Housing is a key component of UN-HABITAT’s strategic plan for the years 2008-2013. Its aim is to help national governments, cities and communities develop pro-poor and age-sensitive housing, land management and property administration. One of the key means here is the Global Land Tool Network (GLTN). The GLTN objective is to contribute to poverty alleviation and the Millennium Development Goals through land reform, improved land management and security of tenure. The Network has developed a global land partnership and its members include international civil society organizations, international finance institutions, international research and training institutions, donors and professional bodies. The GLTN is a demand driven network where many individuals and groups have come together to address this global problem. For further information, and registration, visit the GLTN website at www.gltn.net. In the quest to achieve the Habitat Agenda goal of Adequate Shelter for All, it also helps establish housing policy, proper shelter strategies, and affordable housing provision. It promotes a right-based approach and coordinates the work of the Advisory Group on Forced Evictions (AGFE). For further information, please write an e-mail to: housing.policy@unhabitat.org

Urbanization in Asia: On the left is Karial slum, one of the urban slums in Dhaka. One billion people-one out of three urban dwellers-are living in slum conditions.

Urbanization in Asia: On the left is Karial slum, one of the urban slums in Dhaka. One billion people-one out of three urban dwellers-are living in slum conditions.

Water and sanitation

At a time when nearly all cities have entered the 21st Century facing a water crisis, UN-HABITAT closely monitors the state of water and sanitation in urban areas around the world. The explosive growth of towns and cities in the past 30 years since the birth of UN-HABITAT is depleting previously plentiful water resources, and this is felt particularly in arid parts of Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. Proper water conservation and management is vital for social and environmental sustainability of cities. In our rapidly urbanising world, water scarcity is a potential source of strife. Rapid population growth in urban areas has already created environmental degradation – a task UN-HABITAT works to redress. UN-HABITAT also manages a Water and Sanitation Trust Fund established in 2002 to help cities and their municipalities reach out to the poorest of the poor. Key elements are the Water for African Cities Programme to help African cities manage growing water demand; and the Water for Asian Cities Programme in a region of the world where almost two-thirds of people lack clean water and adequate sanitation. The two programmes work in close collaboration with the African Development Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

Urban mobility

As our cities grow bigger and bigger, along with traffic jams spewing pollution into the air, sapping fuel that could be better utilized, UN-HABITAT is promoting more efficient and user-friendly transport systems around the world. Guided by the Habitat Agenda, the Declaration of Cities and Other Human Settlements in the New Millennium, Governing Council Resolution GC 22/8 on Guidelines on access to basic services for all, UN-HABITAT promotes sustainable urban mobility around the world.

Financing better human settlements

UN-HABITAT seeks to strengthen human settlements financing by improving access to finance for housing and infrastructure, particularly for the urban poor. This is done by using innovative financial mechanisms and institutional capacity to leverage the contributions of communities, local authorities, the private sector, Government and international financial institutions.  It promotes innovative financing mechanisms for dealing with the Millennium slum target, using a mechanism called the Slum Upgrading Facility (SUF) , another called Experimental Reimbursable Seeding Operations (ERSO), and other so-called Innovative Financial Mechanisms. It also helps Member States improve the effectiveness, efficiency and accessibility of existing housing finance systems. On municipal finance, it works to find innovative ways of financing urban development and basic urban services and infrastructure, especially means of tapping into the private sector, and Community Based Initiatives, including Women’s Land Access Trusts.
The Slum Upgrading Facility works as a technical cooperation and seed capital facility

Cities and climate change

It is no coincidence that global climate change has become a leading international development issue at the same time as the world has become urbanized. The way we plan, manage, operate and consume energy in our cities will have a critical role in our quest to reverse climate disruption and its impact. The 22nd session of the Governing Council mandated UN-HABITAT to specifically work on Cities and Climate Change. The Cities and Climate Change Initiative initiative promotes dialogue between national and local levels. Seventy-five percent of commercial energy is consumed in urban and peri-urban areas. In addition, 80 per cent of all waste is generated from our cities and up to 60 per cent of Greenhouse Gas Emissions which cause global climate change emanate from cities. If sea levels rise by just one meter, many major coastal cities will be under threat. Tropical cyclones and storms, in recent years have affected more than 120 million people around the world, mostly in urban areas of developing and least developed countries. The world is also witnessing more frequent droughts. In many parts of the world, climate refugees from rural areas that have been hit by drought or flooding aggravate the migration to cities. The UN predicts that there will be millions of environmental migrants by 2020, and climate change is one of the major drivers. In partnership with the Cities Alliance, the World Bank and the United Nations Environment Programme, we are refining methods help cities to measure their climate footprint and assess their climate change vulnerability.