World Habitat Day is observed every year on the first Monday of October throughout the world. It was established in 1985 by the United Nations General Assembly through Resolution 40/202 and was first celebrated in 1986 with the theme “Shelter is My Right”. The purpose of the day is to reflect on the state of our urban areas and the basic human right regarding provision of adequate shelter to all human beings. World Habitat Day (or WHD) also aims to remind the planners and government officials of the collective responsibility for the habitat of future generations and a day to encourage grassroots action from civil society organizations to advocate for universal decent housing.
Shelter for All
Each year, World Habitat Day takes on a new theme chosen by the United Nations based on current issues relevant to the Habitat Agenda. The themes of WHD are selected to bring attention to UN-Habitat’s mandate to promote sustainable development policies that ensure adequate shelter for all. These themes often promote important subjects such as housing and social services, a safe and healthy living environment, affordable and sustainable transport and energy, promotion, protection and restoration of green urban spaces, safe and clean drinking water and sanitation, healthy air quality, employment generation, improved urban planning, slum upgrading and better waste management.
WHD 2016 – Housing at the Center
World Habitat Day 2016 will be celebrated on 3 October 2016 under the theme ‘Housing at the Centre’ encouraging that every individual has a right to a decent housing/ shelter with basic amenities to survive. It will also mark the official beginning of Urban October month of celebrations, events and activities. The day is a reminder to everyone to join together as one global network in communicating the message that every one of us deserves the opportunity for a better living and future.
The purpose of World Habitat Day is to pay serious attention towards the need for better shelter all over the world, to share the priority of affordable, adequate and sustainable housing, to bring the positive changes in the systems including policies and attitudes, to reflect on the states and towns and pay attention on the basic human rights for adequate shelter and to increase the awareness worldwide of joint responsibility for the future generation’s shelter.
Global Housing Crisis
We need to understand that with a population of over seven billion, there is an acute global housing crisis, as approximately 1.6 billion people worldwide are living in the substandard housing/ slums and almost 100 million people are homeless. The WHD aims to draw the people attention towards the urgent need of adequate housing especially for the poor people.
Providing and improving housing is a gigantic task and cannot be dealt only by the governmental authorities. It require involvement of all stakeholders including communities, NGOs and experienced developers to optimize urban densities and provide land zoning with efficient services and utilities that are environmental friendly and have minimum carbon footprint. With the shortage of urban space, we need to develop in a sustainable manner to keep room for future growth and accommodate population in coming decades.
In the GCC countries including Bahrain, the concerned authorities are giving due attention to the subject of planning and providing decent housing to citizens and to avoid any social, health and environmental problems.
Let us whole-heartedly support and celebrate the World Habitat Day and organize any activity or event in our own community including an awareness campaign, a fun activity, area cleanliness and get together in parks and public spaces.