United Nations Human Settlements Programme

United Nations Human Settlements Programme
Formation1977; 46 years ago (1977)
Legal statusActive
HeadquartersKenya Nairobi, Kenya
Maimunah Mohd Sharif
Parent organization
United Nations
icon Politics portal

The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) is the United Nations programme[1] for human settlements and sustainable urban development. It was established in 1977 as an outcome of the first United Nations Conference on Human Settlements and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat I) held in Vancouver, Canada, in 1976. UN-Habitat maintains its headquarters at the United Nations Office at Nairobi, Kenya. It is mandated by the United Nations General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all. It is a member of the United Nations Development Group.[2] The mandate of UN-Habitat derives from the Habitat Agenda, adopted by the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) in Istanbul, Turkey, in 1996. The twin goals of the Habitat Agenda are adequate shelter for all and the development of sustainable human settlements in an urbanizing world.


The UN-Habitat mandate is also derived from General Assembly resolution 3327 (XXIX), by which the Assembly established the United Nations Habitat and Human Settlements Foundation; resolution 32/162, by which the Assembly established the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat); and resolution 56/206, by which the Assembly transformed the Commission on Human Settlements and the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat), including the United Nations Habitat and Human Settlements Foundation, into UN-Habitat. The mandate of UN-Habitat is further derived from other internationally agreed development goals, including those contained in the United Nations Millennium Declaration (Assembly resolution 55/2), in particular the target on achieving a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum-dwellers by 2020; and the target on water and sanitation of the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, which seeks to halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. Through Assembly resolution 65/1, Member States committed themselves to continue working towards cities without slums, beyond current targets, by reducing slum populations and improving the lives of slum-dwellers.

Work and projects[edit]

UN-Habitat office in Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau (Barcelona)

UN-Habitat works in more than 70 countries in five continents focusing on seven areas:


The governance structure of the programme is made up of three decision-making bodies: the UN-Habitat Assembly, an executive board and a Committee of Permanent Representatives.[3] Previously, The Governing Council was the decision-making body for the Programme, but it was dissolved following a resolution passed by the UN General Assembly.[4]

The assembly is a universal body composed of the 193 member states of the United Nations and convenes every four years at the Headquarters of UN-Habitat in Nairobi. The first assembly was held in May 2019.[5] The presidency of the first assembly was held by Mexico. Mexico's presidency was represented by Martha Delgado Peralta the Mexican Undersecretary of Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights.[6]

The second decision-making body of the programme is the executive board, which is made up of 36 member states elected by the UN-Habitat Assembly with representatives from every regional groups. The board meets three times annually. The Committee of Permanent Representatives of UN-Habitat (CPR) is composed of all Permanent Representatives accredited to the United Nations Office at Nairobi.[7]

The UN-Habitat secretariat is headed by an executive director nominated by the UN Secretary-General with the approval of the UN General Assembly. The current executive director is Maimunah Mohd Sharif of Malaysia, who was appointed in December 2017.[8] The deputy executive director is Victor Kisob of Cameroon who was appointed by in July 2018.[9]

List of executive directors[edit]

  1. Arcot Ramachandran, India, 1978-1992
  2. Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Canada, 1993-1994
  3. Wally N’Dow, Gambia, 1994-1997
  4. Darshan Johal, Canada, 1997–1998
  5. Klaus Töpfer, Germany, 1998–2000
  6. Anna Tibaijuka, Tanzania, 2000–2010
  7. Joan Clos, Spain, 2010-2018
  8. Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Malaysia, 2018–Present

Before 2002, the title of the head of the programme was director of the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements.[10]

World Urban Forum (WUF)[edit]

The World Urban Forum is an international conference dedicated to urban issues, organized by UN-Habitat. It was established by the United Nations to examine one of the most pressing issues facing the world today: rapid urbanization and how to ensure a sustainable urban development. It is organized biennially in the years between the UN-Habitat governing councils.

World Urban Campaign (WUC)[edit]

The World Urban Campaign is an initiative led by UN-Habitat that seeks to promote sustainable urban development and livable cities around the world. Its primary objective is to advocate for the implementation of the New Urban Agenda, a global framework adopted by the United Nations in 2016 to guide urban development policies and strategies for the next 20 years.

The campaign brings together a diverse range of partners, including governments, civil society organizations, private sector actors, and academic institutions, to collaborate on urban development issues. Through a series of activities and initiatives, the campaign aims to raise awareness of the importance of sustainable urbanization, promote best practices, and foster partnerships among stakeholders.

The World Urban Campaign focuses on a number of key themes, including affordable housing, sustainable mobility, resilient urban planning, and social inclusion. It also emphasizes the role of technology and innovation in shaping the future of cities.

Some of the key initiatives and activities of the campaign include the Urban Thinkers Campus (UTC), a global network of events that brings together experts and stakeholders to share knowledge and ideas on urban development.

Overall, the World Urban Campaign serves as an important platform for promoting sustainable and inclusive urban development, and for advancing the goals of the New Urban Agenda.

World Habitat Day[edit]

The United Nations has designated the first Monday of October every year as World Habitat Day. This is an occasion 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 human habitat.

UN-Habitat Scroll of Honour Award[edit]

The UN-Habitat Scroll of Honour Award is an award given by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme in recognition of work carried out in the field of human settlements development. The aim of the award is to honour individuals and institutions instrumental in improving the living conditions in urban centres around the world.

World Habitat Award[edit]

The UN-Habitat World Habitat Award is presented in recognition of "projects that provide practical, innovative, solutions to current housing needs, with a particular focus on decent, affordable, adequate and sustainable housing". Established in 1985 by UN-Habitat in partnership with the Building and Social Housing Foundation, each year two awards are presented to recipients at the annual session of the Governing Council of UN-Habitat at the United Nations office in Nairobi. The goal of the award is to identify, celebrate and promote "good practice in housing projects that seek to further affordability and sustainability in housing globally".[11]

United Nations Advisory Committee of Local Authorities[edit]

The United Nations Advisory Committee of Local Authorities (UNACLA) was established in 2000[12] in line with the UN Habitat Governing Council Resolution 17/18 of 1999[13] as an advisory body to strengthen the dialogue of the UN System with local authorities in relation to the implementation of the Habitat Agenda. In September 2004, UN-HABITAT established a formal relationship with United Cities and Local Governments,[14] which now chairs UNACLA and holds 10 of its 20 seats. UCLG co-hosts the UNACLA secretariat with UN-Habitat.[15][16]


  1. Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS)
  2. International Institute of Social Studies (ISS)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About Us | UN-Habitat". unhabitat.org. Retrieved 2021-03-15.
  2. ^ "UNDG Members". Archived from the original on May 11, 2011. Retrieved May 15, 2012.
  3. ^ "Governance | UN-Habitat". unhabitat.org. Retrieved 2021-03-15.
  4. ^ "A/RES/73/239 - E - A/RES/73/239 -Desktop". undocs.org. Retrieved 2021-03-15.
  5. ^ "UN-Habitat Assembly | UN-Habitat". unhabitat.org. Retrieved 2021-03-15.
  6. ^ Exteriores, Secretaría de Relaciones. "Mexico Elected President of 1st UN-Habitat Assembly". gob.mx (in Spanish). Retrieved 2021-03-15.
  7. ^ "General Assembly of the United Nations". www.un.org. Retrieved 2021-03-15.
  8. ^ "Maimunah listed in MBOR as first Asian to helm UN-Habitat". Malaysiakini. 2018-01-12. Retrieved 2018-01-14.
  9. ^ "Mr. Victor Kisob of Cameroon - Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat)". United Nations Secretary-General. 2018-07-25. Retrieved 2021-03-15.
  10. ^ "Immediate and Past Executive Directors | UN-Habitat". unhabitat.org. Retrieved 2021-03-15.
  11. ^ "Housing projects feted at Governing Council." UN-Habitat. 12 May 2017. Web.
  12. ^ UNACLA
  13. ^ UN-HABITAT Governing Council Resolution No.17/18 Cooperation with partners: role of local authorities in the work of the Commission, 14 May 1999, Archived 16 November 2019 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ UN-HABITAT and UCLG Sign Historic Agreement
  15. ^ "UNACLA - United Nations Advisory Committee of Local Authorities". UCLG - United Cities and Local Governments. Retrieved 2021-03-15.
  16. ^ "United Nations Advisory Committee on Local Authorities | Global Taskforce". www.global-taskforce.org. Retrieved 2021-03-15.

External links[edit]