The United Nations General Assembly gave UN-Habitat, formerly the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, the authority to advance environmentally and socially responsible urban development. Established in 1978, UN-Habitat works towards achieving sustainable urbanization by addressing the challenges and opportunities of rapid urban growth.

The United Nations General Assembly gave UN-Habitat, formerly the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, the authority to advance environmentally
  • Full Name: United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat)
  • Established: 1978
  • Headquarters: Nairobi, Kenya
  • Mandate: Promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities
  • Focus Areas:
    • Adequate shelter for all
    • Urban planning and development
    • Disaster risk reduction in urban areas
    • Urban governance
    • Climate change adaptation and mitigation in cities
  • Activities:
    • Research and policy development
    • Technical assistance to governments and local authorities
    • Capacity building
    • Advocacy and awareness raising
    • Knowledge sharing and networking
  • Governance:
    • Three-tier structure:
      • UN-Habitat Assembly: Sets strategic direction and oversees policies
      • Executive Board: Provides guidance and approves the budget
      • Committee of Permanent Representatives: Ensures effective communication and coordination

Role of UN-Habitat:

UN-Habitat’s mission is to promote inclusive, resilient, and sustainable urban development. The agency focuses on several key areas, including:

  • Urban Planning and Design: UN-Habitat works to improve urban planning and design processes to create more livable, equitable, and sustainable cities. This includes supporting cities in developing comprehensive urban plans, promoting mixed-use development, and enhancing public spaces.
  • Housing and Slum Upgrading: UN-Habitat works to improve access to affordable and adequate housing, particularly for vulnerable and marginalized populations. The agency supports slum upgrading initiatives, housing finance mechanisms, and land tenure regularization efforts to improve housing conditions in informal settlements.
  • Urban Governance and Management: UN-Habitat promotes good urban governance and effective urban management practices. This includes supporting local governments in strengthening their institutional capacities, promoting participatory decision-making processes, and enhancing transparency and accountability in urban governance.
  • Urban Resilience and Climate Change: UN-Habitat works to build resilience to climate change and other environmental challenges in cities. The agency supports cities in developing climate action plans, implementing climate-resilient infrastructure projects, and mainstreaming climate adaptation and mitigation measures into urban development policies and strategies.

World Leader and UN-Habitat’s Role in Climate Change:

As the world continues to grapple with the impacts of climate change, the role of UN-Habitat in promoting climate-resilient and low-carbon urban development has become increasingly important. Cities are both significant contributors to greenhouse gas emissions and highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, making them key battlegrounds in the fight against global warming.

UN-Habitat plays a crucial role in addressing climate change by:

  • Promoting Sustainable Urban Planning: UN-Habitat works with cities to develop and implement sustainable urban planning strategies that reduce emissions, improve energy efficiency, and enhance resilience to climate change impacts. This includes integrating climate considerations into land-use planning, transportation planning, and infrastructure development.
  • Supporting Climate-Resilient Infrastructure: UN-Habitat supports cities in developing climate-resilient infrastructure projects, such as green buildings, sustainable transportation systems, and flood management infrastructure. These projects help cities adapt to climate change impacts such as extreme weather events, sea-level rise, and water scarcity.
  • Capacity Building and Knowledge Sharing: UN-Habitat provides technical assistance, capacity-building support, and knowledge-sharing platforms to help cities develop the skills, expertise, and resources needed to address climate change effectively. This includes organizing training workshops, conducting research and analysis, and facilitating peer-to-peer learning among cities.

India’s Steps in UN-Habitat Initiative:

India has been actively engaged in UN-Habitat’s initiatives to promote sustainable urban development and address climate change. Some of the key steps taken by India in this regard include:

  • National Urban Missions: India has launched several national urban missions, including the Smart Cities Mission, Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), and Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban), aimed at promoting sustainable urban development, improving urban infrastructure, and enhancing the quality of life in cities.
  • Climate Action Plans: Many Indian cities have developed climate action plans with support from UN-Habitat and other international organizations. These plans outline strategies and actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, enhance resilience to climate change impacts, and promote sustainable urban development.
  • Capacity Building: India has participated in capacity-building initiatives organized by UN-Habitat to strengthen the skills and knowledge of urban policymakers, planners, and practitioners. This includes training programs, workshops, and study tours focused on topics such as sustainable urban planning, climate resilience, and low-carbon technologies.
  • Research and Innovation: India has supported research and innovation in the field of sustainable urban development and climate change adaptation. Indian institutions and organizations have collaborated with UN-Habitat and other partners to develop innovative solutions and technologies for addressing urban challenges and promoting climate resilience.

In conclusion, UN-Habitat plays a critical role in promoting sustainable urban development and addressing climate change challenges worldwide. India, as a key participant in UN-Habitat’s initiatives, has taken significant steps to promote sustainable urbanization and climate resilience, including through national urban missions, climate action plans, capacity-building initiatives, and research and innovation efforts. By working together with UN-Habitat and other stakeholders, India and other countries can build more inclusive, resilient, and sustainable cities for the future.

The World Urban Forum (WUF)

The World Urban Forum (WUF) is a biennial conference organized by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) that brings together policymakers, urban planners, academics, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders to discuss and exchange ideas on pressing urban issues. The twelfth session of the World Urban Forum, also known as WUF12, was held in 2020.

Theme and Focus:

The theme of WUF12 was “Cities of Opportunities: Connecting Culture and Innovation.” The forum aimed to explore how culture and innovation can be leveraged to create inclusive, sustainable, and resilient cities that provide opportunities for all residents. The focus was on promoting cultural diversity, fostering innovation, and harnessing the potential of cities to drive economic growth and social development.

Key Topics and Sessions:

WUF12 featured a wide range of sessions, workshops, and side events covering various urban issues, including:

  • Urbanization and Development: Discussions on the challenges and opportunities of rapid urbanization, with a focus on promoting sustainable development and reducing inequalities.
  • Housing and Slum Upgrading: Sessions on improving access to affordable housing and upgrading informal settlements to improve living conditions for urban residents.
  • Urban Governance and Planning: Panels on strengthening urban governance, promoting participatory decision-making processes, and enhancing urban planning practices.
  • Climate Change and Resilience: Workshops on building climate-resilient cities, adapting to the impacts of climate change, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in urban areas.
  • Inclusive Cities: Dialogues on promoting social inclusion, addressing the needs of vulnerable and marginalized populations, and ensuring that cities are accessible to all residents.
  • Smart Cities and Innovation: Sessions on harnessing technology and innovation to improve urban services, enhance efficiency, and foster economic growth in cities.

Participants and Stakeholders:

WUF12 brought together a diverse range of participants, including government officials, urban planners, architects, researchers, activists, business leaders, and representatives from civil society organizations and international agencies. The forum provided a platform for dialogue, networking, and collaboration among stakeholders working to address urban challenges and promote sustainable urban development.

Outcomes and Recommendations:

WUF12 generated valuable insights, ideas, and recommendations for advancing the global urban agenda. Key outcomes of the forum included:

  • The Kuala Lumpur Declaration: A declaration adopted by participants at the closing session of WUF12, reaffirming the commitment to sustainable urban development and calling for action to address urban challenges.
  • Policy Recommendations: A series of policy recommendations and best practices identified during the forum’s sessions and workshops, covering topics such as housing, transportation, governance, and climate change
  • Partnerships and Initiatives: The forum facilitated the formation of partnerships and collaborations among participants, leading to new initiatives and projects aimed at addressing urban challenges and promoting sustainable development.

India’s Participation and Contributions:

India was represented at WUF12 by government officials, urban planners, researchers, and representatives from civil society organizations. Indian participants shared their experiences, best practices, and innovative solutions for addressing urban challenges in the country.

India’s contributions to WUF12 included:

  • Showcasing Urban Initiatives: Indian cities highlighted their urban development initiatives, including smart city projects, sustainable transportation initiatives, and slum redevelopment programs.
  •   Indian stakeholders shared best practices and lessons learned from their experiences in addressing urban challenges, such as promoting affordable housing, improving urban governance, and enhancing resilience to climate change.
  • Networking and Collaboration: Indian participants engaged in networking activities, forging partnerships, and exploring opportunities for collaboration with other stakeholders working in the field of urban development.


WUF12 provided a valuable platform for stakeholders from around the world to come together to discuss and exchange ideas on pressing urban issues. The forum highlighted the importance of culture and innovation in shaping sustainable and inclusive cities and generated valuable insights and recommendations for advancing the global urban agenda. India’s participation in WUF12 underscored its commitment to promoting sustainable urban development and contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.