World Habitat Day 2021

The Global Observance of World Habitat Day 2021 was held in the capital of Cameroon, Yaoundé,  on 4 October. The hybrid official opening ceremony  brought together Ministers from Cameroon, Poland and Egypt, the First Lady of Turkey, Mayors, heads of UN agencies, a Nobel Prize winner, an international footballer, a youth activist and representatives of the African Union and local government networks.

Over 1,200 people attended the meeting both at the Town Hall in Yaounde, or through live streaming or Zoom. One of the highlights of the opening ceremony was the awarding of the prestigious Scroll of Honour awards in person to New Urban Communities Authority from Egypt, Shining Hope for Communities from Kenya, Let’s do it World from Estonia and Ciudad Emergente from Chile while Baoji City, China sent a video.  The opening ceremony was followed by four Roundtables.

World Habitat Day was also celebrated in Ol Karia, Kenya where the Government of Kenya put in place major policy, legislative and programmatic measures to support the World Habitat Day 2021 theme of accelerating urban action for a carbon free world.

In additions celebrations had been planned in over 110 cities and over 43 countries including Mexico, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Spain, United States of America, Germany, Ecuador, Philippines and Colombia, all recording high number of events.

The theme for this year’s World Habitat Day is Accelerating urban action for a carbon-free world.  Cities are responsible for some 70 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions with transport, buildings, energy, and waste management accounting for the bulk of urban greenhouse gas emissions. The future of our planet depends on national, regional and local governments and organizations, communities, academic institutions, the private sector and all relevant stakeholders working together to create sustainable, carbon-neutral, inclusive cities and towns. World Habitat Day  amplified the global Race to Zero Campaign and UN-Habitat’s ClimateAction4Cities and encouraged local governments to develop actionable zero-carbon plans in the run up to the international climate change summit COP26.

World Habitat Day is celebrated on the first Monday of October and marks the start of Urban October – a month of activities, events and discussions on urban issues.The purpose of World Habitat Day is to reflect on the state of our towns and cities, and on the basic right of all to adequate shelter. It is also intended to remind the world that we all have the power and the responsibility to shape the future of our cities and towns. World Habitat Day was established in 1985 by the United Nations General Assembly through Resolution 40/202, and was first celebrated in 1986. This year marked 35 years since the first World Habitat Day celebrations which was held in Nairobi, Kenya. Last year it was held in Surabaya, Indonesia under the theme Housing For All: A Better Urban Future and in 2019 in Mexico City, Mexico under the theme Frontier Technologies as an Innovative Tool to Transform Waste to Wealth.

Event City and Country
Yaounde, Cameroon
Event Date
Messages from the UN Secretary General and the Executive Director
The Secretary-General, António Guterres

On this World Habitat Day, cities and towns across the globe are facing – and fighting – the dual crises of COVID-19 and climate change. Home to 4.5 billion people today, they are projected to grow by almost 50 per cent by 2050.

By mid-century, over 1.6 billion urban residents may have to survive through average summertime highs of 35 degrees Celsius.

This year’s theme – ‘Accelerating Urban Action for a Carbon-Free World’ – highlights how cities and towns are at the core of climate action to keep the 1.5 degrees goal within reach.  

Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif

The climate crisis is widely recognized as the number one threat facing the world today. And it is our cities and towns which are responsible for much of the climate change, which is resulting in devastating floods, droughts and violent storms. In fact, cities and towns produce around 70 percent of the main greenhouse gases. Unless we take urgent action, the greenhouse gases produced by ever expanding urban centres, will continue to push global air temperatures higher. This is why the theme of this year’s World Habitat Day on Monday 4 October is “Accelerating Urban Action for a Carbon Free World”. World Habitat Day provides an international opportunity to raise awareness and push for immediate action, through events, discussions and campaigns.

Videos

WHD programme

World Habitat Day Concept Notes

Key Messages

  • Accelerating urban action for a carbon-free world

Event Toolkit

Scroll of Honour 2021

Press Release on Scroll of Honour winners - English

Press Release on Scroll of Honour winners - Chinese

Press Release on Scroll of Honour winners - Spanish

UN-Habitat’s prestigious Scroll of Honour awards are presented each year to s initiatives which have made outstanding contributions in the field of human settlements including through the provision of affordable, accessible and adequate housing and improving human settlements and the quality of urban life to leave no one behind. The award, a plaque engraved with the name of the winning individual, city or institution, was launched in 1989 and is presented during the Global Observance of World Habitat Day on the first Monday of October.
The winners of this year’s UN-Habitat Scroll of Honour awards will receive their plaques at the Global Observance in Yaoundé, Cameroon on Monday 4 October.
The winners of the 2021 UN-Habitat Scroll of Honour are:

1. New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA), Egypt
For its role in providing safe, affordable social housing projects in Egypt.

2. Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO), Kenya
For being a leading example of community-led change to eradicate extreme poverty in
Kenya’s urban slums.

3. Baoji City, China
For its innovative housing provision project benefiting low and middle income residents in
Baoji City.

4. Let’s do it World (LDIW), Estonia
For organizing three World Cleanup Days to tackle the global waste crisis and reduce
carbon emissions.

5. Ciudad Emergente (CEM), Chile
For its innovative approach on piloting a Shared Streets concept (Calles Compartidas) for low
carbon cities.

This year’s nominations were judged based on their contribution to UN-Habitat’s mandate; innovative urban COVID-19 responses; the World Habitat Day theme 2021 “Accelerating urban action for a carbon-free world;” potential for scale up and, the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Sustainable Development Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable and potential for scale up.

Here is the detailed guidelines that were used for submission of a nomination and the online nomination form  can be found here.

Information on the previous World Habitat Day celebrations is available here.

Please feel free to contact us on our email address: unhabitat-whd@un.org

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