Category Archives: World Habitat Day

Low cost bricks converted from Plastic waste classroom

Frontier technologies offer answers to modern challenges in our cities- UN

Diverse challenges including waste management, energy among others face the modern society but the power and responsibility to shape the future of cities and towns lies in the hands of everyone.

The United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, to this end, has called for steps to alter the way our cities function so that challenges associated with waste and energy among others can be addressed.

The UN Secretary General made the call in his message to this year’s World Habitat Day.

According to him, World Habitat Day, was to remind  “the world that we all have the power and the responsibility to shape the future of our cities and towns in the face of rapid and unplanned urbanization which can generate or exacerbate many challenges, including the climate crisis”

He pointed that this year’s World Habitat Day is focused on  “the problem of waste and the potential of frontier technologies to transform waste into wealth”.

“World Habitat Day highlights the central role our cities and communities play in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  Well-planned and smartly managed cities can steer us towards inclusive growth and low-emission development.”

“Frontier technologies can offer better and cheaper answers to these daily challenges.   For example, automation and artificial intelligence can help sort recyclables more efficiently. Sensors in smart packaging can help reduce food waste, while other innovative technologies are turning organic waste into renewable energy and compost. And new materials – such as advanced biodegradable plastics – can reduce environmental impact.”

“We must reduce the amount of waste we produce, and, at the same time, start seeing it as a valuable resource that can be re-used and recycled, including for energy”

The Secretary General expressed that with cities in the lead and frontier technologies in widespread use, the world can achieve major advances on the road to sustainable urban development adding that there was the need to invest much more especially in waste management.

Meanwhile, the UN-Habitat Executive Director, Maimunah Mohd Sharif had submitted that this year World Habitat Day was an opportunity to think about how we can all make a real change in the cities and towns where we live.

In a separate message to the occasion, UN-Habitat Executive Director said It was a time for the world to look at ways that challenges that cities face each day and find ways to improve everyone’s lives.

“As hubs of innovation and creativity, cities are the best place to come up with solutions”

She said noted that “One of the most intractable problems that is all too evident in many of our communities, are the mounds of waste in the streets, the effluent in our rivers, our overflowing landfills and the thick smoke from smouldering piles of rubbish”.

Every year our homes, factories, industries, offices, markets and shops produce 7 -10 billion tonnes of waste that are polluting our air, soil and water, killing marine life, contributing to climate change and threatening the health of our planet and its population.

UN-Habitat Executive Director, stressed that this year, there was the need to highlight that sustainable waste management can contribute to happier, greener, healthier cities

Secretary General’s Message On World Habitat Day

06 October 2014: Over the past decade, efforts under the Millennium Development Goals have cut the proportion of people living in slums by more than half. Yet, over the same period, rapid urbanization, especially in the developing world, has seen overall slum populations rise. In some parts of sub-Saharan Africa, as many as 70 per cent of urban dwellers live in slums and informal settlements.

Slums are often located on the least desirable and appropriate land, such as flood plains and steep hillsides, and are inherently vulnerable to the increasingly severe weather events that climate change is causing. Many of the people who inhabit slums were pushed to migrate by the lack of opportunities in rural areas or their countries of origin. They regularly lack basic services such as water, sanitation, electricity and street lighting. Crime is often endemic, with women and girls particularly at risk. Unemployment, under-employment and the cost of transport to distant places of work add further hardship.

To achieve sustainable development and a life of dignity for all, we must address these issues. This year, World Habitat Day is devoted to giving a voice to slum dwellers. Often, people in the slums live in near-anonymity — no address, no census and no idea when their living conditions will improve. By learning from their experiences, city planners and policy makers can enhance the well-being of a significant portion of the human family. Let us hear from people who live in slums what has worked and what has not – and what we need to do.

On this World Habitat Day, I encourage governments, businesses, academic institutions and non-governmental organizations to give slum dwellers a voice – and to listen to what they have to say. We have the technology and the know-how to build economically, socially and environmentally sustainable cities based on local solutions. Ensuring that our towns and cities expand in a well-planned and managed way is not only necessary to meeting the housing needs of our growing urban population, it is also vital for combatting climate change, protecting the environment and supporting sustainable development. Let us focus on a new urban agenda that leaves no-one behind.