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Gathering a body of global agreements
logo of United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II)

  United Nations


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General Assembly

Distr: General
14 June 1996
Original: Arabic/ English/ Spanish

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The Habitat Agenda: Chapter III: Commitments

Contents | Istanbul Declaration | Preamble | Goals & Principles | Commitments | Global Plan of Action

The Habitat Agenda

Chapter III - Commitments

  1. Adequate shelter for all
  2. Sustainable human settlements
  3. Enablement and participation
  4. Gender equality
  5. Financing shelter and human settlements
  6. International cooperation
  7. Assessing progress

37. Embracing the foregoing principles as States participating in this Conference, we commit ourselves to implementing the Habitat Agenda, through local, national, subregional and regional plans of action and/or other policies and programmes drafted and executed in cooperation with interested parties at all levels and supported by the international community, taking into account that human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development, including adequate shelter for all and sustainable human settlements development, and that they are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature.

38. In implementing these commitments, special attention should be given to the circumstances and needs of people living in poverty, people who are homeless, women, older people, indigenous people, refugees, displaced persons, persons with disabilities and those belonging to vulnerable and disadvantaged groups. Special consideration should also be given to the needs of migrants. Furthermore, special attention should be given to the specific needs and circumstances of children, particularly street children.

A. Adequate shelter for all

39. We reaffirm our commitment to the full and progressive realization of the right to adequate housing, as provided for in international instruments. In this context, we recognize an obligation by Governments to enable people to obtain shelter and to protect and improve dwellings and neighbourhoods. We commit ourselves to the goal of improving living and working conditions on an equitable and sustainable basis, so that everyone will have adequate shelter that is healthy, safe, secure, accessible and affordable and that includes basic services, facilities and amenities, and will enjoy freedom from discrimination in housing and legal security of tenure. We shall implement and promote this objective in a manner fully consistent with human rights standards.

40. We further commit ourselves to the objectives of:

  1. Ensuring consistency and coordination of macroeconomic and shelter policies and strategies as a social priority within the framework of national development programmes and urban policies in order to support resource mobilization, employment generation, poverty eradication and social integration;

  2. Providing legal security of tenure and equal access to land to all people, including women and those living in poverty; and undertaking legislative and administrative reforms to give women full and equal access to economic resources, including the right to inheritance and to ownership of land and other property, credit, natural resources and appropriate technologies;

  3. Promoting access for all people to safe drinking water, sanitation and other basic services, facilities and amenities, especially for people living in poverty, women and those belonging to vulnerable and disadvantaged groups;

  4. Ensuring transparent, comprehensive and accessible systems in transferring land rights and legal security of tenure;

  5. Promoting broad, non-discriminatory access to open, efficient, effective and appropriate housing financing for all people, including mobilizing innovative financial and other resources - public and private - for community development;

  6. Promoting locally available, appropriate, affordable, safe, efficient and environmentally sound construction methods and technologies in all countries, particularly in developing countries, at the local, national, regional and subregional levels that emphasize optimal use of local human resources and encourage energy-saving methods and are protective of human health;

  7. Designing and implementing standards that provide accessibility also to persons with disabilities in accordance with the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities;

  8. Increasing the supply of affordable housing, including through encouraging and promoting affordable home ownership and increasing the supply of affordable rental, communal, cooperative and other housing through partnerships among public, private and community initiatives, creating and promoting market-based incentives while giving due respect to the rights and obligations of both tenants and owners;

  9. Promoting the upgrading of existing housing stock through rehabilitation and maintenance and the adequate supply of basic services, facilities and amenities;

  10. Eradicating and ensuring legal protection from discrimination in access to shelter and basic services, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status; similar protection should be ensured against discrimination on the grounds of disability or age;

  11. Helping the family, in its supporting, educating and nurturing roles, to recognize its important contribution to social integration, and encouraging social and economic policies that are designed to meet the housing needs of families and their individual members, especially the most disadvantaged and vulnerable members, with particular attention to the care of children;

  12. Promoting shelter and supporting basic services and facilities for education and health for the homeless, displaced persons, indigenous people, women and children who are survivors of family violence, persons with disabilities, older persons, victims of natural and man-made disasters and people belonging to vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, including temporary shelter and basic services for refugees;

  13. Protecting, within the national context, the legal traditional rights of indigenous people to land and other resources, as well as strengthening of land management;

  14. Protecting all people from and providing legal protection and redress for forced evictions that are contrary to the law, taking human rights into consideration; when evictions are unavoidable, ensuring, as appropriate, that alternative suitable solutions are provided.

41. Providing continued international support to refugees in order to meet their needs and to assist in assuring them a just, durable solution in accordance with relevant United Nations resolutions and international law.

B. Sustainable human settlements

42. We commit ourselves to the goal of sustainable human settlements in an urbanizing world by developing societies that will make efficient use of resources within the carrying capacity of ecosystems and take into account the precautionary principle approach, and by providing all people, in particular those belonging to vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, with equal opportunities for a healthy, safe and productive life in harmony with nature and their cultural heritage and spiritual and cultural values, and which ensures economic and social development and environmental protection, thereby contributing to the achievement of national sustainable development goals.

43. We further commit ourselves to the objectives of:

  1. Promoting, as appropriate, socially integrated and accessible human settlements, including appropriate facilities for health and education, combating segregation and discriminatory and other exclusionary policies and practices, and recognizing and respecting the rights of all, especially of women, children, persons with disabilities, people living in poverty and those belonging to vulnerable and disadvantaged groups;

  2. Creating an enabling international and domestic environment for economic development, social development and environmental protection, as interdependent and mutually reinforcing components of sustainable development, that will attract investments, generate employment, contribute to the eradication of poverty and provide revenues for sustainable human settlements development;

  3. Integrating urban planning and management in relation to housing, transport, employment opportunities, environmental conditions and community facilities;

  4. Providing adequate and integrated environmental infrastructure facilities in all settlements as soon as possible with a view to improving health by ensuring access for all people to sufficient, continuous and safe freshwater supplies, sanitation, drainage and waste disposal services, with a special emphasis on providing facilities to segments of the population living in poverty;

  5. Promoting integrated water use planning with a view to identifying effective and cost-efficient alternatives for mobilizing a sustainable supply of water for communities and other uses;

  6. Implementing the social and development goals already agreed to by the international community in the areas of basic education, primary health care and gender equality;

  7. Acknowledging, harnessing and enhancing the efforts and potential of productive informal and private sectors, where appropriate, in creating sustainable livelihoods and jobs and increasing incomes, while providing housing and services for people living in poverty;

  8. Promoting, where appropriate, the upgrading of informal settlements and urban slums as an expedient measure and pragmatic solution to the urban shelter deficit;

  9. Promoting the development of more balanced and sustainable human settlements by encouraging productive investments, job creation and social infrastructure development in small and medium-sized cities, towns and villages;

  10. Promoting changes in unsustainable production and consumption patterns, particularly in industrialized countries, population policies and settlement structures that are more sustainable, reduce environmental stress, promote the efficient and rational use of natural resources - including water, air, biodiversity, forests, energy sources and land - and meet basic needs, thereby providing a healthy living and working environment for all and reducing the ecological footprint of human settlements;

  11. Promoting, where appropriate, the creation of a geographically balanced settlement structure;

  12. Giving priority attention to human settlements programmes and policies to reduce urban pollution resulting especially from inadequate water supply, sanitation and drainage, poor industrial and domestic waste management, including solid waste management, and air pollution;

  13. Encouraging dialogue among public, private and non-governmental interested parties to develop an expanded concept of the "balance-sheet", which recognizes that the economic, environmental, social and civic consequences for directly and indirectly affected parties, including future generations, should be taken into account in making decisions on the allocation of resources;

  14. Improving access to work, goods, services and amenities, inter alia, by promoting effective and environmentally sound, accessible, quieter and more energy-efficient transportation systems and by promoting spatial development patterns and communications policies that reduce transport demand, promoting measures, as appropriate, so that the polluter bears the cost of pollution, taking into account special needs and requirements of developing countries;

  15. Promoting more energy-efficient technology and alternative/renewable energy for human settlements, and reducing the negative impacts of energy production and use on human health and on the environment;

  16. Promoting optimal use of productive land in urban and rural areas and protecting fragile ecosystems and environmentally vulnerable areas from the negative impacts of human settlements, inter alia, through developing and supporting the implementation of improved land management practices that deal comprehensively with potentially competing land requirements for agriculture, industry, transport, urban development, green space, protected areas and other vital needs;

  17. Addressing population issues affecting human settlements and fully integrating demographic concerns into human settlements policies;

  18. Protecting and maintaining the historical, cultural and natural heritage, including traditional shelter and settlement patterns, as appropriate, of indigenous and other people, as well as landscapes and urban flora and fauna in open and green spaces;

  19. Protecting holy places and places of cultural and historic significance;

  20. Promoting the redevelopment and reuse of already serviced but poorly utilized commercial and residential land in urban centres in order to revitalize them and reduce development pressures on productive agricultural lands on the periphery;

  21. Promoting education about, and training on, environmentally sound technologies, materials and products;

  22. Promoting equal access and full participation of persons with disabilities in all spheres of human settlements and providing adequate policies and legal protection against discrimination on grounds of disabilities;

  23. Developing and evaluating policies and programmes to reduce the undesired adverse effects and improve the positive impact of structural adjustment and economic transition on sustainable human settlements development, especially on those belonging to vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, and women, inter alia, through reviewing the impact of structural adjustment on social development by means of gender-sensitive social impact assessments and other relevant methods;

  24. Formulating and implementing programmes that contribute to maintaining and strengthening the vitality of rural areas;

  25. Ensuring that the importance of coastal areas is recognized in the national development effort and that all efforts are made to ensure their sustainable use;

  26. Preventing man-made disasters, including major technological disasters, by ensuring adequate regulatory and other measures to avoid their occurrence, and reducing the impacts of natural disasters and other emergencies on human settlements, inter alia, through appropriate planning mechanisms and resources for rapid, people-centred responses that promote a smooth transition from relief, through rehabilitation, to reconstruction and development, taking into account cultural and sustainable dimensions; and rebuilding disaster-affected settlements in a manner that reduces future disaster-related risks and makes the rebuilt settlements accessible to all;

  27. Taking appropriate action to manage the use of heavy metals, particularly lead, safely and effectively and, where possible, eliminating uncontrolled exposure in order to protect human health and the environment;

  28. Eliminating as soon as possible the use of lead in gasoline;

  29. Developing housing that can serve as a functional workplace for women and men.

C. Enablement and participation

44. We commit ourselves to the strategy of enabling all key actors in the public, private and community sectors to play an effective role - at the national, state/provincial, metropolitan and local levels - in human settlements and shelter development.

45. We further commit ourselves to the objectives of:

  1. Enabling local leadership, promoting democratic rule, exercising public authority and using public resources in all public institutions at all levels in a manner that is conducive to ensuring transparent, responsible, accountable, just, effective and efficient governance of towns, cities and metropolitan areas;

  2. Establishing, where appropriate, favourable conditions for the organization and development of the private sector, as well as defining and enhancing its role in sustainable human settlements development, including through training;

  3. Decentralizing authority and resources, as appropriate, as well as functions and responsibilities to the level most effective in addressing the needs of people in their settlements;

  4. Supporting progress and security for people and communities, whereby every member of society is enabled to satisfy his or her basic human needs and to realize his or her personal dignity, safety, creativity and life aspirations;

  5. Working in partnership with youth in order to develop and enhance effective skills and provide education and training to prepare youth for current and future decision-making roles and sustainable livelihoods in human settlements management and development;

  6. Promoting gender-sensitive institutional and legal frameworks and capacity-building at the national and local levels conducive to civic engagement and broad-based participation in human settlements development;

  7. Encouraging the establishment of community-based organizations, civil society organizations, and other forms of non-governmental entities that can contribute to the efforts to reduce poverty and improve the quality of life in human settlements;

  8. Institutionalizing a participatory approach to sustainable human settlements development and management, based on a continuing dialogue among all actors involved in urban development (the public sector, the private sector and communities), especially women, persons with disabilities and indigenous people, including the interests of children and youth;

  9. Fostering capacity-building and training for human settlements planning, management and development at the national and local levels that includes education, training and institutional strengthening, especially for women and persons with disabilities;

  10. Promoting institutional and legal enabling frameworks at the national, subnational and local levels for mobilizing financial resources for sustainable shelter and human settlements development;

  11. Promoting equal access to reliable information, at the national, subnational and local levels, utilizing, where appropriate, modern communications technology and networks;

  12. Ensuring the availability of education for all and supporting research aimed at building local capacity that promotes adequate shelter for all and sustainable human settlements development, given that the challenges make it necessary to increase the application of science and technology to problems related to human settlements;

  13. Facilitating participation by tenants in the management of public and community-based housing and by women and those belonging to vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in the planning and implementation of urban and rural development.

D. Gender equality

46. We commit ourselves to the goal of gender equality in human settlements development. We further commit ourselves to:

  1. Integrating gender perspectives in human settlements related legislation, policies, programmes and projects through the application of gender-sensitive analysis;

  2. Developing conceptual and practical methodologies for incorporating gender perspectives in human settlements planning, development and evaluation, including the development of indicators;

  3. Collecting, analysing and disseminating gender-disaggregated data and information on human settlements issues, including statistical means that recognize and make visible the unremunerated work of women, for use in policy and programme planning and implementation;

  4. Integrating a gender perspective in the design and implementation of environmentally sound and sustainable resource management mechanisms, production techniques and infrastructure development in rural and urban areas;

  5. Formulating and strengthening policies and practices to promote the full and equal participation of women in human settlements planning and decision-making.

E. Financing shelter and human settlements

47. While recognizing that the housing and shelter sector is a productive sector and should be eligible, inter alia, for commercial financing, we commit ourselves to strengthening existing financial mechanisms and, where appropriate, developing innovative approaches for financing the implementation of the Habitat Agenda, which will mobilize additional resources from various sources of finance - public, private, multilateral and bilateral - at the international, regional, national and local levels, and which will promote the efficient, effective and accountable allocation and management of resources, recognizing that local institutions involved in micro-credit may hold the most potential for housing the poor.

48. We further commit ourselves to the objectives of:

  1. Stimulating national and local economies through promoting economic development, social development and environmental protection that will attract domestic and international financial resources and private investment, generate employment and increase revenues, providing a stronger financial base to support adequate shelter and sustainable human settlements development;

  2. Strengthening fiscal and financial management capacity at all levels, so as to fully develop the sources of revenue;

  3. Enhancing public revenue through the use, as appropriate, of fiscal instruments that are conducive to environmentally sound practices in order to promote direct support for sustainable human settlements development;

  4. Strengthening regulatory and legal frameworks to enable markets to work, overcome market failure and facilitate independent initiative and creativity, as well as to promote socially and environmentally responsible corporate investment and reinvestment in, and in partnership with, local communities and to encourage a wide range of other partnerships to finance shelter and human settlements development;

  5. Promoting equal access to credit for all people;

  6. Adopting, where appropriate, transparent, timely, predictable and performance-based mechanisms for the allocation of resources among different levels of government and various actors;

  7. Fostering the accessibility of the market for those who are less organized and informed or otherwise excluded from participation by providing subsidies, where appropriate, and promoting appropriate credit mechanisms and other instruments to address their needs.

F. International cooperation

49. We commit ourselves - in the interests of international peace, security, justice and stability - to enhancing international cooperation and partnerships that will assist in the implementation of national plans of action and the global plan of action and in the attainment of the goals of the Habitat Agenda by contributing to and participating in multilateral, regional and bilateral cooperation programmes and institutional arrangements and technical and financial assistance programmes; by promoting the exchange of appropriate technology; by collecting, analysing and disseminating information about shelter and human settlements; and by international networking.

50. We further commit ourselves to the objectives of:

  1. Striving to fulfil the agreed target of 0.7 per cent of the gross national product of the developed countries for official development assistance as soon as possible and to increase, as necessary, the share of funding for adequate shelter and human settlements development programmes, commensurate with the scope and scale of activities required to achieve the objectives and goals of the Habitat Agenda;

  2. Using resources and economic instruments in an effective, efficient, equitable and non-discriminatory manner at the local, national, regional and international levels;

  3. Promoting responsive international cooperation between public, private, non-profit, non-governmental and community organizations.

G. Assessing progress

51. We commit ourselves to observing and implementing the Habitat Agenda as a guide for action within our countries and will monitor progress towards that goal. Quantitative and qualitative indicators at the national and local levels, which are disaggregated to reflect the diversity of our societies, are essential for planning, monitoring and evaluating progress towards the achievement of adequate shelter for all and sustainable human settlements. In this regard, the well-being of children is a critical indicator of a healthy society. Age and gender-sensitive indicators, disaggregated data and appropriate data-collection methods must be developed and used to monitor the impact of human settlements policies and practices on cities and communities, with special and continuous attention to the situation of those belonging to disadvantaged and vulnerable groups. We recognize the need for an integrated approach and concerted action to achieve the objective of adequate shelter for all and to sustainable human settlements development and will strive for coordinated implementation of international commitments and action programmes.

52. We further commit ourselves to assessing, with a view to its revitalization, the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat), whose responsibilities, inter alia, include coordination and assisting all States in the implementation of the Habitat Agenda.

Contents | Istanbul Declaration | Preamble | Goals & Principles | Commitments | Global Plan of Action