2022-10-03 GENERAL HOUSE

3 October: World Habitat Day

World Habitat Day is an opportunity to reflect on the state of our towns and cities and to raise awareness of the importance of shelter. In 1985, the United Nations General Assembly established it through Resolution 40/202, and it was first celebrated in 1986 with the theme “Shelter is My Right” to highlight the importance of the basic right of adequate shelter. On World Habitat Days, civil society groups and activists lift their voices to help people in need of decent and affordable housing.  This year, 2022, it is commemorated on October 3, under the theme “Mind the Gap. Leave No One and Place Behind“. This theme examines patterns that improve housing standards. 

Research on patterns of urban growth reveals that by 1950 Europe and South and North America had 70% of their population living in cities while Africa and Asia had 40% and 48% respectively. It is estimated that by 2050, the world’s urban population would be more than 70%. Currently, more than 52% of the world’s population live in big cities. Consequently, social inequality is increasing especially in the developing countries with the existence of a form of urbanization that contrasts a rich well-equipped centre with poor, crowded, unsafe slums.

By adopting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the United Nations Member States pledged to fast-track progress for the furthest behind. The pledge to leave no one behind is a commitment to end extreme poverty and underdevelopment in all its forms and to act explicitly to ensure that those who have been left behind can catch up to those who have experienced greater progress. It is for this reason that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 11), is titled ‘sustainable cities and communities’ to ‘make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’ by advocating for the inclusion of adequate and affordable housing, including upgrading slums. This is an invitation to governments to solve the problem of housing by focusing on social and public housing by building smaller homes, controlling rent, buying land and real estate, and focusing on the construction of affordable housing instead of luxury homes.

As we celebrate World Habitat Day, let us draw inspiration from Brother Ernesto’s circular “Homes of Light” to understand the essence of human habitat as a home where we get all the material and spiritual care and comfort for our survival and wellbeing. People who live in urban slums risk losing the sense of self-worth as they experience difficulties in accessing spiritual and material resources. Regarding this, Pope Francis, during the Symposium on “Sustainable Cities, on July 22, 2015, exhorted world mayors to overcome social exclusion and marginalization in urban settings and bring about integral improvement in the quality of human life. He encouraged them to give priority to the most vulnerable people and slums by providing necessary social services to enable family life to flourish. He equally urged them to stop thinking of urban settings as many peripheries organized around one centre but rather as neighbourhoods, side by side to each other and thus provide them access to the same standard of socio-economic and cultural services.


Br. Francis Lukong – Secretariat of Solidarity


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