3 October 2005
A Message from Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General Winston Cox on World Habitat Day 2005, Monday, 3rd October.
Millennium Development Goals and the City
|Deputy Secretary-General Winston Cox|
Today (Monday, 3rd October) is World Habitat Day, an opportunity for us to reflect on the state of our towns, cities, and villages, and on the right of all people to adequate shelter. Almost one in six people in the Commonwealth live in slums. In some urban areas, the figure is as high as one in three. Creating sustainable cities - tackling poverty, ensuring fresh water and sanitation for all, delivering education to help all our children reach their full potential, and working for clean and healthy environment - is one of the greatest challenges we face. Why? Because the world is rapidly urbanising. By 2030 more than 60 per cent of us will live in cities. This means that slum upgrading and strategic urban planning are central to reaching the Millennium Development Goals. It will take vision and leadership at all levels, and a conscious effort to include the needs of city dwellers in strategic plans and budgets.
The Commonwealth is actively promoting implementation of the Habitat Agenda and the Commonwealth's own goal to "demonstrate progress towards adequate shelter for all with secure tenure and access to essential services in every community by 2015". It works through an innovative partnership called ComHabitat which includes civil society and different levels of government. The partnership is examining strategies for financing urban initiatives and progress on implementation of the Habitat Agenda. It also helps practitioners across the Commonwealth to share their practical experiences and approaches.
Cities are vibrant centres of culture, commerce and diversity. Let us also make them a secure and healthy home for their inhabitants.