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Partner Spotlight: UN-Habitat

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Published on
September 26, 2023

The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) is mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities. UN-Habitat is the focal point for all urbanization and human settlement matters within the UN system. UN-Habitat works in over 90 countries to promote transformative change in cities and human settlements through knowledge, policy advice, technical assistance and collaborative action.

We're excited to welcome UN-Habitat back to the Archtober festival this year!

Q: Tell us about UN-Habitat

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 to provide adequate shelter for all. UN-Habitat envisions well-planned, well-governed, and efficient cities and other human settlements, with adequate housing, infrastructure, and universal access to employment and basic services such as water, energy, and sanitation.

The program outlines pathways to sustainable urban development that reduce poverty and inequality, propel prosperity and balanced territorial development, and trigger climate action and environmental sustainability. It also calls upon national governments to work with networks of cities, neighborhood organizations, professionals, researchers, and private industry representatives such as AIA New York | Center for Architecture, and is committed to achieving SDG 11, which aims to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable by 2030.

Panel speech for "Liveable Cities for All," 2023. Photo credit: @unhabitat_ny on Instagram.

Q: Can you highlight an upcoming initiative?

Every October, UN-Habitat and its partners organize a month of activities, events, and discussions on urban sustainability. Urban October is a month-long recurring event that was developed to raise awareness, promote participation, generate knowledge, and engage the international community in creating a better urban future. On October 2, 2023, the Global Observance of World Habitat Day, under the theme “Resilient urban economies. Cities as drivers of growth and recovery,” will examine how cities can position their economies to benefit residents.

Urban October is an opportunity for people worldwide to join the conversation around the challenges and opportunities created by the fast pace of change in our cities and towns. National and local governments, universities, non-governmental organizations, communities, and other stakeholders in sustainable urbanization are encouraged to hold or participate in activities, events, and discussions.  

Urban October begins with World Habitat Day at the start of the month and ends with World Cities Day on 31 October. Activities to mark Urban October occur worldwide on these specific days and throughout the month. Different cities around the world host the global observances of World Habitat Day and World Cities Day each year, this year being Baku and Istanbul.

Q: Can you visit the United Nations Headquarters?

If people are in the neighborhood, they should do one of the many guided tours within the UN HQ. There are several themed tours, amongst them a tour that focuses on Architecture. The UN Architecture tour is dedicated to a marvel of modernist design and international style - the UN Headquarters building in New York. The tour explores the fascinating history behind the Workshop for Peace, a collaborative effort of 11 renowned architects from around the world to build a home for the United Nations and explores how this 'workshop' reinforces and accommodates peacebuilding and multilateralism until this day.

General Assembly, United Nations. Photo credit: @unhabitat_ny on Instagram.

Q: How does the UN’s mission intersect with Archtober's mission?  

UN-Habitat's vision of "a better quality of life for all in an urbanizing world" is both bold and ambitious. UN-Habitat tries to work with partners to build inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable cities and communities. UN-Habitat promotes urbanization as a positive transformative force for people and communities, reducing inequality, discrimination, and poverty.

With these objectives in mind, Archtober serves as a platform where these ideals converges are translated into tangible actions, envisioning their implementation in the real world. Notably, the timing of Archtober aligns seamlessly with Urban October, providing an occasion for diverse partners to come together, united by the common goal of advancing sustainable architecture.