The United Nations Human Settlements Programme UN-HABITAT is the United Nations agency for human settlements. It is mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all.
The main documents outlining the mandate of the organization are the Vancouver Declaration on Human Settlements, Habitat Agenda, Istanbul Declaration on Human Settlements, the Declaration on Cities and Other Human Settlements in the New Millennium, and Resolution 56/20.
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The City is the Home of Prosperity. It is the place where human beings find satisfaction of basic needs and access to essential public goods. The city is also where ambitions, aspirations and other material and immaterial aspects of life are realized, providing contentment and happiness. It is a locus at which the prospects of prosperity and individual and collective well-being can be increased.What this new edition of State of the World's Cities shows is that prosperity for all has been compromised by a narrow focus on economic growth. UN-Habitat suggests a fresh approach to prosperity beyond the solely economic emphasis, including other vital dimensions such as quality of life, adequate infrastructures, equity and environmental sustainability. The Report proposes a new tool – the City Prosperity Index – together with a conceptual matrix, the Wheel of Prosperity, both of which are meant to assist decision makers to design clear policy interventions.The Report advocates for the need of cities to enhance the public realm, expand public goods and consolidate rights to the 'commons' for all as a way to expand prosperity. This comes in response to the observed trend of enclosing or restricting these goods and commons in enclaves of prosperity, or depleting them through unsustainable use.
World Urban Forum 6
Naples, Italy, 5 Sept 12
UN-Habitat this week announced the implementation of its Participatory Slum Upgrading Programme in member countries of the Brussels-based Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Group (ACP) thanks to the support of the European Commission.
The announcement was made a meeting of the sixth session of the World Urban Forum attended by slum upgrading teams from 21 countries, local and national government, civil society, academic institutions and private sector.
"In view of the current situation, it is obvious that the launch of the implementation of the Participatory Slum Upgrading Programme comes at a time when the world is demanding more action to prevent slum proliferation," UN-Habitat's Deputy Executive Director Dr. Aisa Kacyira told the gathering.
"When we speak of slum upgrading, we are talking about ensuring that families have access to basic social amenities and infrastructure that include decent shelter, water, sanitation, schools and health facilities," she said.
According to the latest UN-Habitat research carried in the 2012 Millennium Development Goals Report of the Secretary-General, the share of urban slum residents in the developing world declined from 39 per cent in 2000 to 33 per cent in 2012. More than 200 million of these people gained access to improved water sources, improved sanitation facilities, or durable or less crowded housing, thereby exceeding the Millennium slum target. This achievement comes well ahead of the 2020 deadline.
But despite a reduction in the percentage of urban populations living in slums, the absolute number of slum dwellers continues to grow. Fed by an accelerating pace of urbanisation, 863 million people are now estimated to be living in slums compared to 650 million in 1990 and 760 million in 2000. Officials insist that the achievement of the Millennium target does not lessen the need to improve the lives of the urban poor and to curb the increase in numbers of slum dwellers.
Ms. Raymond Dominique Michelle, the ACP Assistant-Secretary-General said: "We are working with cities and countries to ensure that citizens have access to basic services and infrastructure, "she said.
Six ministers from participating African countries lauded the launch and noted that it paved the way for practical solutions to urbanisation challenges affecting their citizens.
"My country is in the process of making policy and practical interventions that help our people. The Programme is helping to improve service delivery. Already, since last year, 15 districts are in the process of upgrading interventions which include provision of infrastructure and basic services. Every district will eventually have eight health centres, amongst other minimum services provided," said Ms. Emerine Kabanshi the Minister for Local Government and Housing in Zambia.
The Participatory Slum Upgrading Programme is one of UN- Habitat's key interventions aimed at mobilising partners and resources to contribute to poverty reduction. The programme is being implemented with funding from the European Commission and partnership with the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States.
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