In 1985 the United Nations designated the first Monday of October every year as World Habitat Day. The idea is to reflect on the state of our towns and cities and the basic right of all to adequate shelter. It is also intended to remind the world of its collective responsibility for the future of the human habitat.
World Habitat Day was first celebrated in 1986 with the theme “Shelter is My Right”. Nairobi was the host city for the observance that year. Other previous themes have included: “Shelter for the Homeless” (1987, New York); “Shelter and Urbanization” (1990, London); “Future Cities” (1997, Bonn); “Safer Cities” (1998, Dubai); “Women in Urban Governance” (2000, Jamaica); “Cities without Slums” (2001, Fukuoka), “Water and Sanitation for Cities” (2003, Rio de Janeiro), "Planning our Urban Future" (2009, Washington, D.C.), "Better City, Better Life" (2010, Shanghai, China) and Cities and Climate Change (2011, Aguascalientes, Mexico).
Scroll of Honour
The Habitat Scroll of Honour award was launched by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme in 1989. It is currently the most prestigious human settlements award in the world. Its aim is to acknowledge initiatives which have made outstanding contributions in various fields such as shelter provision, highlighting the plight of the homeless, leadership in post conflict reconstruction, and developing and improving the human settlements and the quality of urban life. The award, a plaque engraved with the name of the winner and their achievement is presented to the winners during the Global Observance of World Habitat Day.
Each year, World Habitat Day takes on a new theme to promote sustainable development policies that ensure adequate shelter for all. These themes often promote one of UN-Habitat’s focal areas such as:
- Inclusive housing and social services
- A safe and healthy living environment for all — with particular consideration for children, youth, women, elderly and disabled
- Affordable and sustainable transport and energy
- Promotion, protection, and restoration of green urban spaces
- Safe and clean drinking water and sanitation
- Healthy air quality
- Job creation
- Improved urban planning and slum upgrading
- Better waste management