Universal Declaration of Human Rights @ 60+ logo
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 IV: C. Sustainable human settlements development in an urbanizing world

Contents | Istanbul Declaration | Preamble | Goals & Principles | Commitments | Global Plan of Action
A. Introduction | B. Adequate shelter for all | C. Sustainable human settlements
D. Capacity-building | E. International cooperation | F. Implementation and follow-up

C. Sustainable human settlements development in an urbanizing world

  1. Introduction
  2. Sustainable land use
  3. Social development: eradication of poverty, creation of productive employment and social integration
  4. Population and sustainable human settlements development
  5. Environmentally sustainable, healthy and liveable human settlements
  6. Sustainable energy use
  7. Sustainable transport and communication systems
  8. Conservation and rehabilitation of the historical and cultural heritage
  9. Improving urban economies
  10. Balanced development of settlements in rural regions
  11. Disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness, and post-disaster rehabilitation capabilities

1. Introduction

99. Rapid urbanization, the concentration of the urban population in large cities, the sprawl of cities into wider geographical areas and the rapid growth of mega-cities are among the most significant transformations of human settlements. By the year 2005 the majority of the world's population will live in urban areas, and approximately 40 per cent of them will be children. Urban areas will strongly influence the world of the twenty-first century, and urban and rural populations will be increasingly interdependent for their economic, environmental and social well-being. Among the economic and social factors influencing this process are population growth and voluntary and involuntary migration, real and perceived employment opportunities, cultural expectations, changing consumption and production patterns and serious imbalances and disparities among regions.

100. Given the magnitude of the challenges that human settlements pose, society must value and take advantage of the wisdom, knowledge and skills of every person. Sustainable human settlements development requires cooperative and complementary actions among interested parties. The mix of interested parties appropriate for participation may be different in each instance, depending on who has responsibility for or is affected by the topic being addressed. As a general matter, interested parties include women and men of all ages, Governments at the appropriate level, non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations, business, labour and environmental organizations.

101. The sustainability of the global environment and human life will not be achieved unless, among other things, human settlements in both urban and rural areas are made economically buoyant, socially vibrant and environmentally sound, with full respect for cultural, religious and natural heritage and diversity. Urban settlements hold a promise for human development and for protection of the world's natural resources through their ability to support large numbers of people while limiting their impact on the natural environment. Yet many cities are witnessing harmful patterns of growth, of production and consumption, of land use, of mobility and of degradation of their physical structure. Such problems are often synonymous with soil, air and water pollution, waste of resources and destruction of natural resources. Some human settlements are also subject to limited water supply, sanitation and drainage and to dependency upon toxic and non-renewable energy fuel sources and irreversible loss of biodiversity. Many of these trends are aggravated or accelerated by high population growth and the magnitude of rural-to-urban migration. Demographic factors, combined with poverty and lack of access to resources and unsustainable patterns of production and consumption, particularly in industrialized countries, can cause or exacerbate problems of environmental degradation and resource depletion and thus inhibit sustainable development. Therefore, a largely urbanized world implies that sustainable development will depend very largely on the capacity of urban and metropolitan areas to manage the production and consumption patterns and the transport and waste disposal systems needed to preserve the environment.

102. The municipal level of government can be an effective partner in making human settlements viable, equitable and sustainable, since its level of administration is closest to the people. Governments must recognize the essential role of local authorities in providing services and empowering people to secure economic development, social welfare and environmental protection for their communities, and the role of international cooperation among local authorities. Local authorities can construct, operate and maintain economic, social and environmental infrastructure, oversee planning processes, establish local environmental policies and assist in implementing national and subnational environmental policies. They play a vital role in educating and mobilizing people and in responding to public demands to promote sustainable development.

103. At the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, the international community agreed on a set of objectives and actions aimed at promoting sustainable human settlements development. In chapter 7 of Agenda 21, the concept of an "enabling approach" in the human settlements sector was developed, whereby a partnership among the public, private and community sectors sought to improve the social, economic and environmental quality of human settlements and the living and working environments of all people, in particular people living in poverty in urban and rural areas. Particular emphasis was given to participation in the decision-making process by community groups, women, indigenous people, the elderly and people with disabilities. The local Agenda 21 framework emphasizes the need for local authorities to work in cooperation with all interested parties, including individuals, social groups and the private sector, to promote and implement effective strategies for sustainable development.

104. In the process of urbanization, policies and programmes for the sustainable development of human settlements in both rural and urban areas require strong subnational governmental institutions working in partnership with all interested parties. Such institutions are still weak in many countries, and their effectiveness is threatened by increasing problems of political regionalism and ethnic strife. All these concerns and demands require a regional and cross-sectoral approach to human settlements planning, which places emphasis on rural/urban linkages and treats villages and cities as two ends of a human settlements continuum in a common ecosystem.

105. Increasingly, cities have a network of linkages that extends far beyond their boundaries. Sustainable urban development requires consideration of the carrying capacity of the entire ecosystem supporting such development, including the prevention and mitigation of adverse environmental impacts occurring outside urban areas. The unsafe disposal of waste leads to the degradation of the natural environment: aquifers, coastal zones, ocean resources, wetlands, natural habitats, forests and other fragile ecosystems are affected, as are the homelands of indigenous people. All transboundary movements of hazardous waste and substances should be carried out in accordance with relevant international agreements by parties to those agreements. Rapid urbanization in coastal areas is causing the rapid deterioration of coastal and marine ecosystems.

106. The diversity of types of human settlements is a key component to creating just and sustainable societies. The living and working conditions in all human settlements, including regional urban centres, rural service centres, rural hamlets, rural communities, market towns and villages, must be improved, with particular emphasis on shelter, social and physical infrastructure, and services. The maintenance and the development of rural settlements require sustainable agriculture and forestry activities and improved agricultural technologies, economic diversification, and expanded employment opportunities created by encouraging appropriate and environmentally sustainable investment in industry and related economic production and service activities.

107. In order to mitigate the unbalanced geographical development of human settlements, and to effectively reinforce the creation of a dynamic economy, Governments at the appropriate levels should create partnerships with relevant interested parties to encourage the sustainable development and management of cities of all sizes and should create conditions that ensure that these different cities provide employment opportunities and services in the process of securing economic development, social welfare and environmental protection. They should devise strategies and support measures that address the issues relating to the movement of population which leads to extreme population concentration in some areas, pressure on fragile ecosystems such as coastal areas, and loss of population in other areas.

108. International cooperation, including city-to-city cooperation, is both necessary and mutually beneficial in promoting sustainable human settlements development. Depending on the context and the needs of the cities, towns and villages in each country and region, special attention should be paid to the most critical issues, such as changing production and consumption patterns; energy efficiency; sustainable resource and land-use management; poverty eradication; population and health; water supply, sanitation and waste management; disaster prevention, mitigation, preparedness and management; cultural, natural and historical heritage; environmental protection; industry; infrastructure; and basic services such as health and education facilities and services. Habitat II provides an opportunity to focus on the effect that current patterns of human settlements development will have on the ability to achieve the objectives established at recent United Nations conferences. Close attention to trends in urban development is essential to the viability of sustainable human settlements development in rural and urban areas alike.

2. Sustainable land use

109. Land is essential for the provision of food, water and energy for many living systems, and is critical to human activity. In rapidly growing urban areas, access to land is rendered increasingly difficult by the potentially competing demands of housing, industry, commerce, infrastructure, transport, agriculture and the need for open spaces and green areas, and the protection of fragile ecosystems. The rising costs of urban land and other factors prevent persons living in poverty and members of other vulnerable and disadvantaged groups from gaining access to suitable land, the location of which does not pose economic, environmental or health risks to the residents for such reasons as its proximity to polluting industrial facilities, inappropriate geographical conditions or its susceptibility to natural disasters. Bringing the development of urban areas into harmony with the natural environment and the overall system of settlements is one of the basic tasks to be undertaken in achieving a sustainable urbanized world. The tools for achieving a physically more balanced development include not only specific urban and regional policies and legal, economic, financial, cultural and other measures, but also innovative methods of urban planning and design and of urban development, revitalization and management. National, subnational and local policies and programmes need to be integrated. In this regard, the principle of the precautionary approach, stipulated in the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, should be widely applied by Governments according to their capabilities, and the use of environmental and social impact assessments is desirable.

110. Land use is closely related to water resource management because of the critical need to protect aquifers and other fresh-water resources from the harmful effects of human settlements. Special attention should be paid to guiding potentially hazardous activities away from the fragile areas. Oceans and coastal areas should be protected from land-based sources of pollution.

111. Many cities are using peripheral land for urban-related purposes in a wasteful manner while existing serviced land and infrastructure may not be adequately developed and used. To avoid unbalanced, unhealthy and unsustainable growth of human settlements, it is necessary to promote land-use patterns that minimize transport demands, save energy and protect open and green spaces. Appropriate urban density and mixed land-use guidelines are of prime importance for urban development. National, subnational and local policies and development plans must be carefully re-examined to ensure optimal land use and geographically better balanced economic development, including the protection of indispensable agricultural land; land that sustains biodiversity, water quality and groundwater recharge; fragile areas, including coastal areas; and other sensitive areas in need of protection.

112. Green spaces and vegetation cover in urban and peri-urban areas are essential for biological and hydrological balance and economic development. Vegetation creates natural habitats and permits better absorption of rainwater by natural means, which implies savings in water management. Green areas and vegetation also play an important part in reducing air pollution and in creating more suitable climatic conditions, thereby improving the living environment in cities. Healthy and environmentally sound agricultural activities and the provision of common land should be integrated into the planning of urban and peri-urban areas.


113. Governments at the appropriate levels, including local authorities and other interested parties, with the support of the relevant international and regional institutions, should support the efforts of human settlements to establish sustainable urban land-use patterns and planning and, to that end, should:

  1. Establish, as appropriate, legal frameworks to facilitate the development and implementation, at the national, subnational and local levels, of public plans and policies for sustainable urban development and rehabilitation, land utilization, housing and the improved management of urban growth;

  2. Promote efficient and accessible land markets that are responsive to demand and meet community needs;

  3. Develop, where appropriate, fiscal incentives and land-use control measures, including land-use planning solutions for more rational and sustainable use of limited land resources;

  4. Focus greater attention on meeting the capital investment requirements of human settlements through resource mobilization strategies and policies that facilitate greater flows of private investment in urban development in locations that contribute to sustainable land-use patterns;

  5. Encourage partnerships among the public, private and voluntary sectors and other interested parties in managing land resources for sustainable urban development;

  6. Promote urban planning, housing and industrial siting initiatives that discourage the siting of hazardous industrial facilities in residential areas;

  7. Prevent or minimize pollution and exposure to pollution from industrial facilities, while also promoting urban planning, housing and industrial siting initiatives that discourage the disproportionate siting of polluting industrial facilities in areas inhabited by people living in poverty or those belonging to vulnerable and disadvantaged groups;

  8. Develop and support the implementation of improved land-management practices that deal comprehensively with competing urban land requirements for housing, industry, commerce, infrastructure, transport, green spaces and forested areas, taking into account the need for spaces for everyday activities - for playgrounds, parks, sports and recreation areas and areas suitable for gardening and urban agriculture;

  9. Promote the integration of land-use, communications and transport planning to encourage development patterns that reduce the demand for transport;

  10. Develop and implement integrated coastal zone management plans to ensure the proper development and conservation of coastal resources;

  11. Promote the use of tools and the development of capacities for transparent urban monitoring and reporting activities based on appropriate indicators for the environmental, social and economic performance of cities;

  12. Institutionalize a participatory approach to sustainable human settlements through the development and support of strategies and mechanisms that encourage open and inclusive dialogue among all interested parties, with special attention to the needs and priorities of women, minorities, children, youth, people with disabilities, older persons and persons living in poverty and exclusion;

  13. Promote best practices for community-based land management in human settlements;

  14. Strengthen capacities in integrated environmental management.

114. To develop and support improved and integrated land management, Governments at the appropriate levels, including local authorities, should:

  1. Develop integrated land information and mapping systems;

  2. Establish, as appropriate, structures for the enforcement of land management laws and regulations in order to make enforcement and appeals more efficient and effective;

  3. Develop the land market through the establishment of an effective legal framework that incorporates environmental concerns and encompasses the diversity of tenure systems;

  4. Develop, with the participation of all interested parties, comprehensive and environmentally sound land-use strategies at the local level.

3. Social development: eradication of poverty, creation of productive employment and social integration

115. Promoting equitable, socially viable and stable human settlements is inextricably linked to eradicating poverty. The concerns of the International Year for the Eradication of Poverty and the International Decade for the Eradication of Poverty are shared by the international community, which also acknowledges the feminization of poverty. Poverty has various manifestations, including homelessness and inadequate housing. The eradication of poverty requires, inter alia, sound macroeconomic policies aimed at creating employment opportunities, equal and universal access to economic opportunities (and special efforts to facilitate such access for the disadvantaged); education and training that will promote sustainable livelihoods through freely chosen productive employment and work; and basic social services, including health facilities. However, there are no universal solutions that can be fairly applied. People living in poverty must be empowered through freely chosen participation in all aspects of political, economic and social life. Other key elements of a poverty eradication strategy include policies geared to reducing inequalities, increasing opportunities, improving and providing, as appropriate, access to resources, employment and income; promoting rural development and measures to improve economic, social and environmental conditions in rural areas; providing social protection for those who cannot support themselves; recognizing the needs and skills of women; developing human resources; improving infrastructure, including communication facilities, and making it more accessible; and promoting domestic policies for meeting the basic needs of all.


116. To promote equal access to and fair and equitable provision of services in human settlements, Governments at the appropriate level, including local authorities, should:

  1. Formulate and implement human settlements development policies that ensure equal access to and maintenance of basic services, including those related to the provision of food security; education; employment and livelihood; basic health care services; safe drinking water and sanitation; adequate shelter; and access to open and green spaces, giving priority to the needs and rights of women and children, who often bear the greatest burden of poverty;

  2. Where appropriate, redirect public resources to encourage community-based management of services and infrastructure and promote the participation of the private sector and local residents, including people living in poverty, women, people with disabilities, indigenous people and members of disadvantaged groups, in the identification of public service needs, spatial planning and the design, provision and maintenance of urban infrastructure and open and green spaces.

117. To promote social integration, Governments at the appropriate levels, including local authorities, recognizing the importance of volunteer contributions and in close cooperation with non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations, the cooperative sector and public and private foundations, should:

  1. Prohibit discriminatory, exclusionary practices related to shelter, employment and access to social and cultural facilities;

  2. Offer opportunities and physical space to encourage positive interaction among culturally diverse groups;

  3. Involve marginalized and/or disadvantaged groups and individuals in the planning, decision-making, monitoring and assessment related to human settlements development;

  4. Encourage, in cooperation with relevant interested parties, including parents with respect to their children's education, the development of school curricula, education programmes and community-based centres aimed at developing understanding and cooperation among members of diverse cultures.

118. Urban and rural poverty and unemployment represent severe constraints for human settlements development. In order to combat poverty, Governments at the appropriate levels, including local authorities, in partnership with all relevant interested parties, including workers' and employers' organizations, should:

  1. Stimulate productive employment opportunities that generate income sufficient to achieve an adequate standard of living for all people, while ensuring equal employment opportunities and wage rates for women and encouraging the location of employment opportunities near and in the home, particularly for women living in poverty and people with disabilities;

  2. Pursue the goal of ensuring quality jobs, and safeguard the basic rights and interests of workers and, to this end, freely promote respect for relevant conventions of the International Labour Organization, including those on the prohibition of forced and child labour, freedom of association, the right to organize and bargain collectively, and the principle of non-discrimination;

  3. Improve policies that reduce environmental health hazards, and provide the informal sector and all workers with accessible information on how to enhance occupational safety and reduce health risks;

  4. Promote, where appropriate, cost-effective and labour-intensive investments and methods to provide, rehabilitate and maintain settlement infrastructure and services;

  5. Promote contracting and procurement that, as appropriate, facilitate the involvement of the local private sector, including small businesses and contractors, and, when appropriate, the informal sector and the community sector in the provision of basic public goods and services;

  6. Ensure that people living in poverty have access to productive resources, including credit, land, education and training, technology, knowledge and information, as well as to public services, and that they have the opportunity to participate in decision-making in a policy and regulatory environment that would enable them to benefit from employment and economic opportunities;

  7. Promote access to credit and innovative banking alternatives with flexible guarantees and collateral requirements for women and people living in poverty, including those who work in the informal sector, family enterprises and small-scale enterprises;

  8. Promote community-based cooperative banking and responsible corporate reinvestment in local communities;

  9. Promote and strengthen productive enterprises, including micro-enterprises and small-scale private and cooperative sector enterprises and expand market and other employment and training opportunities for women, men and youth, including people with disabilities and, where appropriate, strengthen the linkages between the informal and formal sectors;

  10. Promote, where appropriate, timely access of the unemployed, particularly persons living in poverty, to education and vocational training;

  11. Link independent small businesses through flexible manufacturing networks;

  12. Establish and strengthen programmes designed to improve project management skills for community-based and non-governmental organizations, including youth organizations, at the community and local levels, including needs assessment, project setting and design, financial management, project implementation and impact assessment, monitoring and evaluation;

  13. Encourage the establishment of community-based organizations, private voluntary organizations and other non-governmental organizations that contribute to efforts to eradicate poverty;

  14. Explore the creation of quasi-public support structures that encourage interrelated community-based enterprises by providing assistance with development, marketing and distribution of community-manufactured products;

  15. Promote public awareness of job opportunities through the mass media.

119. In order to promote gender-sensitive planning and management of human settlements, Governments at the appropriate levels, including local authorities, in collaboration with women's groups and other interested parties, should:

  1. Adopt, where appropriate, by-laws, standards and norms and develop planning guidelines that take into consideration the needs and situations of women and men and girls and boys in relation to human settlements planning, development and decision-making, and in the provision of and access to basic services, including public transportation, health and educational facilities;

  2. Consider in the planning process the fact that women are often involved in the informal sector and use their homes for business or market activities;

  3. Promote representative structures, while ensuring women's full and equal participation;

  4. Develop policy guidelines and programmes that encourage and actively pursue the involvement of women's groups in all aspects of community development related to environmental infrastructure and the provision of basic urban services, and encourage women's own cooperatives, as well as their membership in other cooperatives;

  5. Promote changes in attitudes, structures, policies, laws and other practices relating to gender in order to eliminate all obstacles to human dignity and equality in family and society and promote full and equal participation of women and men, including persons with disabilities, in social, economic and political life, including in the formulation, implementation and follow-up of public policies and programmes;

  6. Foster economic policies that have a positive impact on the employment and income of women workers in both the formal and informal sectors and adopt specific measures to address women's unemployment, in particular their long-term unemployment;

  7. Eliminate legal and customary barriers, where they exist, to women's equal access to and control of land and finance;

  8. Promote equal access to all levels of education for girls and women;

  9. Establish programmes that address the absolute poverty found among rural women, focusing on their need for adequate shelter and employment;

  10. Generate and disseminate gender disaggregated data, while ensuring that such statistics are collected, compiled, analysed and presented by age and sex; set up monitoring mechanisms in government structures; and integrate the results into mainstream policies for sustainable human settlements development;

  11. Enhance community awareness of issues facing women living in poverty, the homeless, migrants, refugees, other displaced women in need of international protection, and internally displaced women, especially those issues related to physical and sexual abuse, and design appropriate community responses;

  12. Ensure equal access to housing, land and public services in the urban and rural areas in line with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

120. In order to develop the full potential of young people and prepare them to take a responsible role in the development of human settlements, Governments at the appropriate levels, including local authorities, in partnership with the private sector, non-governmental youth organizations and other non-governmental organizations as well as community-based organizations, should:

  1. Integrate youth concerns into all relevant national, subnational and local policies, strategies, programmes and projects;

  2. Enable youth by supporting and valuing their ability to play an active and creative role in building sustainable communities;

  3. Provide equal access to basic education, paying special attention to people living in poverty and to youth living in rural areas and addressing constraints created by distance, lack of educational facilities and social or economic barriers;

  4. Take special action to reduce the drop-out rate at all levels of education through increased relevance and quality education, and to facilitate the access of school leavers to a sustainable livelihood;

  5. Utilizing both formal and non-formal educational and training activities and programmes, promote - in partnership with youth - employment programmes and vocational skills development that enhance youth's capacity to participate fully in the social, economic and political processes of human settlements;

  6. Eliminate the sexual and economic exploitation of young women and children, improving their quality of life and increasing their contribution to sustainable human settlements development;

  7. Encourage awareness-raising campaigns and other actions developed and implemented by youth that are aimed at promoting the appreciation by youth of their historical, natural, religious, spiritual and cultural heritage and at increasing their consciousness of environmental values and the environmental implications of their production, consumption, behavioural and ethical choices, especially those related to adequate shelter for all and sustainable human settlements development.

121. In order to promote disability-sensitive planning and management of human settlements, Governments at the appropriate levels, including local authorities, should:

  1. Promote the adoption of laws, by-laws, standards and norms and develop planning guidelines and programmes that take into consideration the specific needs of persons with disabilities, including the chronically ill, in all planning, development and decision-making in relation to human settlements;

  2. Encourage the adoption of laws and policies ensuring persons with disabilities full access to all new public buildings and facilities, public housing and public transport systems; and also encourage access to existing public buildings and facilities, housing and transport, wherever feasible, especially by taking advantage of renovation;

  3. Promote representative structures, while ensuring the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities;

  4. Eliminate communication barriers to reduce the social and physical isolation faced by persons with disabilities by measures such as the production and dissemination of information, especially public information, in appropriate formats;

  5. Promote equal access to all levels of education and skills development for persons with disabilities;

  6. Prepare and disseminate disaggregated data presented by age, sex and work status, set up monitoring mechanisms in government structures and integrate the results into mainstream policies for sustainable human settlements development;

  7. Recognize that people with disabilities can provide expertise in their own housing and community requirements, that they should be decision makers with regard to housing appropriate for them and that they should be included as designers and implementers of such housing;

  8. Enhance community awareness of health-care issues facing persons with disabilities and design appropriate community responses;

  9. Provide persons with disabilities affordable and quality health care;

  10. Develop policies and guidelines and provide services that enable persons with disabilities to be housed in community-based settings;

  11. Develop and implement programmes that enable people with disabilities to have an equal opportunity to realize an income sufficient to attain an adequate standard of living;

  12. Consider in the planning process the fact that persons with disabilities often use their homes for business or market activities;

  • Promote sports, recreational and cultural activities for persons with disabilities.

    122. In order to promote the continuing progress of indigenous people and to ensure their full participation in the development of the rural and urban areas in which they live, with full respect for their cultures, languages, traditions, education, social organizations and settlement patterns, Governments and leaders of indigenous communities, within the national context, should:

    1. Take particular actions to enhance their productive capacities, ensuring their full and equal access to social and economic services and their participation in the elaboration and implementation of policies that affect their development;

    2. Support the economic activities of indigenous people in order to improve their conditions and development and to secure their safe interaction with larger economies;

    3. Integrate indigenous women, their perspectives and knowledge, on an equal basis with men, in decision-making regarding human settlements, including sustainable resource management and the development of policies and programmes for sustainable development, including, in particular, those designed to address and prevent environmental degradation of land;

    4. Address the particular needs of indigenous children and their families, especially those living in poverty, thereby enabling them to benefit fully from economic and social development programmes.

    123. To prevent, reduce and eliminate violence and crime, Governments at the appropriate levels, including local authorities, in partnership with all interested parties, should:

    1. Design, create and maintain liveable human settlements that encourage the use of public spaces as centres of community life so that they do not become places for criminal activity;

    2. Promote awareness and provide education in an effort to mitigate crime and violence and strengthen society;

    3. Promote crime prevention through social development by finding ways to help communities deal with underlying factors that undermine community safety and result in crime by addressing such critical problems as poverty, inequality, family stress, unemployment, absence of educational and vocational opportunities, and lack of health care, including mental health services;

    4. Encourage youth and children, in particular street children, to become interested parties in their own future and in their community's future through education, recreation, and job training and counselling that can attract private-sector investment and support from non-profit organizations;

    5. Enhance women's safety in communities through the promotion of a gender perspective in crime prevention policies and programmes by increasing in those responsible for implementing those policies the knowledge and understanding of the causes, consequences and mechanisms of violence against women;

    6. Establish programmes designed to improve the skills of local leadership in group facilitation, conflict resolution and intervention;

    7. As appropriate, promote personal security and reduce fear by improving police services, making them more accountable to the communities they serve, and by encouraging and facilitating, whenever appropriate, the formation of lawful community-based crime prevention measures and systems;

    8. Provide accessible, affordable, impartial, prompt and humane local systems of justice by, inter alia, facilitating and strengthening, where appropriate, existing traditional institutions and procedures for the resolution of disputes and conflicts;

    9. Encourage the establishment of programmes and projects based on voluntary participation, especially of children, youth and older persons, to prevent violence, including violence in the home, and crime;

    10. Take concerted and urgent action to dismantle international and national sex trafficking networks.

    124. To protect vulnerable and disadvantaged people, Governments at the appropriate levels, in partnership with all interested parties, should work together to:

    1. Adopt integrated, transparent and gender-sensitive environmental, social and economic policies and programmes for distressed areas and areas characterized by social exclusion;

    2. Facilitate the participation of local organizations, including elder councils, women's groups, people's movements, youth groups, children's groups and organizations of people with disabilities and other organizations based in the community, in the decision-making processes concerning social welfare programmes;

    3. Promote and establish operational partnerships with social welfare and community development initiatives;

    4. Improve the planning and design of human settlements so as to respond specifically to the needs of vulnerable and disadvantaged people, especially people with disabilities.
  • 4. Population and sustainable human settlements development

    125. The quality of life and the activities of all human beings within human settlements are closely interrelated with population change, demographic patterns, including growth, structure and distribution of population, and development variables such as education, health and nutrition, the levels of use of natural resources, the state of the environment and the pace and quality of economic and social development.

    126. Population movements within and among countries, including the very rapid growth of some cities and the unbalanced regional distribution of population in some areas need to be considered to ensure the sustainability of human settlements.


    127. In order to address population issues affecting human settlements and to fully integrate demographic concerns into sustainable human settlements development policies, Governments at the appropriate levels, including local authorities and other interested parties, should:

    1. Ensure that population/demographic issues are appropriately addressed within decision-making processes, especially those dealing with urban and regional planning and management, basic infrastructure and services provision or other related policies;

    2. Where necessary, set up or enhance databases, including, inter alia, data disaggregated by gender and age, and conduct data collection and analysis to provide baseline information that can be used to better plan for population growth in cities, towns and villages;

    3. Increase the awareness, knowledge and understanding of the impact of population change and development variables on human settlements at all levels of society through public information campaigns and communication efforts centred on the significance and relevance of population-related issues and the responsible actions necessary to address such issues, including health, family planning and consumption and production patterns consistent with sustainable development;

    4. Consider the need to plan, design and build sustainable new human settlements, taking into account the environmental impact, to relieve present and obviate future population and development pressures on urban and rural areas.

    5. Environmentally sustainable, healthy and liveable human settlements

    128. Sustainable human settlements depend on the creation of a better environment for human health and well-being, which will improve the living conditions of people and decrease disparities in the quality of their lives. The health of the population depends at least as much on the control of environmental causes of poor health as on clinical responses to disease. Children are particularly vulnerable to harmful urban environments and must be protected. Measures to prevent ill health and disease are as important as the availability of appropriate medical treatment and care. It is therefore essential to take a holistic approach to health, whereby both prevention and care are placed within the context of environmental policy, supported by effective management systems and plans of action incorporating targets that reflect local needs and capacities.

    129. Health problems related to adverse environmental conditions, including a lack of access to safe water and sanitation, inadequate waste management, poor drainage, air pollution, and exposure to excessive noise levels, as well as ineffective and inadequate health services, exact a heavy toll on the quality of life and the overall contribution to society of millions of people. They may also aggravate social tension and inequity and increase the vulnerability of people to the effects of disasters. An integrated approach to the provision of environmentally sound infrastructure in human settlements, particularly for people living in poverty in rural and urban areas, is an investment in sustainable human settlements development that can enhance the quality of life, reduce negative impacts on the environment, improve the overall health of a population, and reduce the burden of investment in curative health and poverty alleviation.

    130. Many pollution-related risks to health are particularly high in urban areas, as well as in low-income areas, because of higher concentrations of pollutants from, inter alia, industry, traffic, fumes from cooking and heating devices, overcrowding and inadequate solid and liquid waste management. Environmental risks in the home and the workplace may have a disproportionate impact on the health of women and children because of their different susceptibilities and rates of exposure to the toxic effects of various chemicals and given the nature of the tasks that women frequently undertake. Environmental risks may also have a disproportionate impact on children.

    131. Many environmental contaminants, such as radioactive materials and persistent organic pollutants, work their way into the food chain and eventually into human beings, thus compromising the health of present and future generations.

    132. Exposure to heavy metals, including lead and mercury, may have persistent and harmful effects on human health and development and on the environment. Children and people living in poverty are often particularly vulnerable, and it is of special concern that the effects of high lead levels on children's intellectual development are irreversible. Effective and affordable alternatives to many of the uses of these metals are available. Appropriate alternatives should be sought for those products where exposure to lead can be neither controlled nor managed.

    133. Unsustainable and wasteful production and consumption patterns also lead to increasing problems in waste management. It is essential to intensify efforts aimed at minimizing the production and discharge of waste, and at recycling and reuse as much as possible and disposing of the remainder in an environmentally sound manner. This will require changes in attitudes and consumption patterns and in the design of buildings and neighbourhoods, as well as innovative, efficient and sustainable modalities for waste management.

    134. The design of the built environment is recognized as having an impact on people's well-being and behaviour and, thereby, on people's health. Good design in new housing and in upgrading and rehabilitation is important for the creation of sustainable living conditions. The design of high-rise housing should complement the context of the neighbourhood in which it will be located. In particular, the large-scale development of high-rise housing can bring social and environmental disadvantages; therefore special attention should be paid to the quality of its design, including the scale and height, proper maintenance, regular technical inspection and safety measures.

    135. The liveability of the built environment has an important bearing on the quality of life in human settlements. Quality of life implies those attributes catering for the diversified and growing aspirations of citizens that go beyond the satisfaction of basic needs. Liveability refers to those spatial, social and environmental characteristics and qualities that uniquely contribute to people's sense of personal and collective well-being and to their sense of satisfaction in being the residents of that particular settlement. The aspirations for liveability vary from place to place, and evolve and change in time; they also differ among the diverse populations that make up communities. Therefore, conditions for liveable human settlements presuppose a working democracy in which processes of participation, civic engagement and capacity-building mechanisms are institutionalized.


    136. To improve the health and well-being of all people throughout their life-span, particularly people living in poverty, Governments at the appropriate levels, including local authorities, in partnership with other interested parties, should:

    1. Develop and implement national, subnational and local health plans or strategies and strengthen environmental health services to prevent, mitigate and respond to diseases and ill health resulting from poor conditions in living and working environments and the conditions of people living in poverty, and continue work towards the Agenda 21 objective of achieving a 10 to 40 per cent improvement in health indicators by the year 2000;

    2. Adopt measures to prevent and control air, water and soil pollution and to reduce noise levels, where appropriate, and develop and ensure access to appropriate preventive and curative health-care systems in order to tackle related health problems;

    3. Ensure adequate research to assess how and to what extent women and children are particularly susceptible or exposed to environmental degradation and hazards, including, as necessary, research and data collection on specific groups of women and children, particularly women with low incomes, indigenous women and women belonging to minorities;

    4. Improve shelter conditions so as to mitigate those health and safety risks, particularly risks to women, older persons, children and people with disabilities, that are associated with activities in the home;

    5. Build capacity at all levels for effective environmental health management;

    6. Develop and implement programmes to ensure universal access for women throughout their life-span to a full range of affordable health-care services, including those related to reproductive health care, which includes family planning and sexual health, consistent with the report of the International Conference on Population and Development;

    7. Develop, where appropriate, criteria for maximum permitted and safe levels of noise exposure and promote noise assessment control as part of environmental health programmes;

    8. Raise awareness of the interdependencies between the environment and health and develop within communities the knowledge, attitudes and practices needed to improve personal and community health, with special attention to hygiene;

    9. Promote, where appropriate, planning and good design in human settlements, both in new developments and in upgrading and rehabilitation, while emphasizing aesthetic qualities as well as sound and sustainable technical and functional qualities, enriching and enlightening the overall quality of life of people;

    10. Establish processes to increase the exchange of information, experience and technical assistance among national, subnational and local Governments, including among Governments at the same level, and across sectors for environmental health improvements;

    11. Ensure that due priority is given and adequate resources made available from all sources, at the national, regional and international levels, to combat the threat to individuals and public health posed by the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS globally and by the re-emergence of major diseases, such as tuberculosis, malaria, onchocerciasis (river blindness) and diarrhoeal diseases, in particular cholera;

    12. Promote safe and healthy workplace conditions for men and women.

    137. To improve environmental conditions and reduce industrial and domestic waste and other forms of health risks in human settlements, Governments at the appropriate levels and in partnership with all interested parties should:

    1. Develop and implement national and local plans, policies and specific cross-sectoral programmes addressing all relevant chapters of Agenda 21;

    2. Develop laws and policies that specify appropriate ambient environmental quality levels and set targets for environmental improvements and identify instruments for their achievement appropriate to national and subnational priorities and conditions;

    3. Establish, equip and build capacity for monitoring and evaluating compliance with environmental regulations and effectiveness of enforcement at all levels;

    4. Set environmental standards so as to facilitate the selection and development of appropriate technologies and their appropriate use;

    5. Identify and address the disproportionately high and adverse effects of policies and programmes on the human health or the environment of people living in poverty and those belonging to vulnerable and disadvantaged groups;

    6. Provide incentives and disincentives to promote the use of clean production and energy- and water-saving processes and technologies that, among other things, can increase economic opportunities in the areas of environmental technology, environmental clean-up and environmentally friendly products and can improve the attractiveness and competitiveness of human settlements for economic investments;

    7. Provide guidelines and training for the application of procedures for the assessment of environmental health impacts;

    8. Undertake environmental assessments and environmental impact assessments for development plans and projects, respectively, that may significantly affect the quality of the environment;

    9. Support mechanisms for consultations and partnerships among interested parties to prepare and implement local environmental plans and local Agenda 21 initiatives and specific cross-sectoral environmental health programmes;

    10. Raise awareness of environmental issues and develop within communities the knowledge, attitudes and practices needed for sustainable human settlements development;

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

    12. Eliminate as soon as possible the use of lead in gasoline;

    13. In cooperation with the international community, promote the protection of the living environment and strive to restore contaminated land, air and water to levels acceptable for sustainable human settlements.

    138. Recognizing the need for an integrated approach to the provision of those environmental services and policies that are essential for human life, Governments at the appropriate levels, in partnership with other interested parties, should:

    1. Incorporate the principles and strategies contained in Agenda 21 and the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development in an integrated manner: the precautionary principle approach, the polluter pays principle, the pollution prevention principle, the ecosystem approach, including strategies pertaining to carrying capacity, and environmental and social impact assessments;

    2. Promote practices and patterns of production and consumption that will conserve and protect freshwater and saltwater resources and topsoil, as well as air and soil quality;

    3. Ensure that clean water is available and accessible to all human settlements as soon as possible through, inter alia, the adoption and improvement of technology, and ensure that environmental protection and conservation plans are designed and implemented to restore polluted water systems and rebuild damaged watersheds;

    4. Dispose as soon as possible, within both rural and urban areas, of sewage, waste waters and solid wastes, including hazardous wastes, in a manner that conforms with national or international environmental quality guidelines;

    5. Promote environmental protection and public health by proper treatment and the recycling and reuse of environmentally compatible sanitation and treatment/disposal of waste water and solid waste;

    6. Make a concerted effort to reduce the generation of wastes and waste products by, inter alia, setting national and local goals for the reduction of packaging;

    7. Develop criteria and methodologies for the assessment of environmental impacts and resource requirements at the local level throughout the life cycle of products and processes;

    8. Develop and implement legal, fiscal and administrative mechanisms to achieve integrated ecosystem management;

    9. Establish mechanisms to ensure transparent, accountable and cost-effective management and maintenance of infrastructure.

    139. In order to promote a healthy environment that will continue to support adequate shelter for all and sustainable human settlements for current and future generations, Governments at the appropriate levels, in partnership with all relevant interested parties, should:

    1. Promote the conservation and sustainable use of urban and peri-urban biodiversity, including forests, local habitats and species biodiversity; the protection of biodiversity should be included within local sustainable development planning activities;

    2. Protect existing forest resources and promote, where possible, afforestation around and within human settlements in order to fulfil basic needs relating to energy, construction, recreation and food security;

    3. Encourage, where appropriate, the establishment of productive and recreational green belts around urban and rural agglomerations in order to protect their environment and contribute to the provision of food products;

    4. Reduce significantly the degradation of the marine environment emanating from land-based activities, including municipal, industrial and agricultural wastes and run-off, which have a pernicious impact on the productive areas of the marine environment and coastal areas;

    5. Ensure that children have access to the natural world on a daily basis through free play outdoors, and establish education programmes to help children investigate their community environments, including natural ecosystems;

    6. Ensure adequate opportunity for public participation by all interested parties at all levels of environmental decision-making.

    140. Water resources management in human settlements presents an outstanding challenge for sustainable development. It combines the challenge of securing for all the basic human need for a reliable supply of safe drinking water and meeting the competing demands of industry and agriculture, which are crucial to economic development and food security, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their water needs.

    141. Meeting this challenge requires an integrated approach to water resources management that takes cognizance of the links between water, sanitation and health, between the economy and the environment, and between cities and their hinterland, and harmonizes land-use planning and housing policies with water sector policies and ensures a comprehensive and coherent approach to setting and enforcing realistic standards. A strong political commitment, cooperation across disciplines and sectors, and an active partnership of all interested parties is essential to integrated water resources management. To this end, Governments at the appropriate levels, in partnership with other interested parties, should:

    1. Pursue policies for water resources management that are guided by the broader consideration of economic, social and environmental sustainability of human settlements at large, rather than by sectoral considerations alone;

    2. Establish strategies and criteria (biological, physical and chemical water quality) to preserve and restore aquatic ecosystems in a holistic manner, giving consideration to entire drainage basins and the living resources contained therein;

    3. Manage supply and demand for water in an effective manner that provides for the basic requirements of human settlements development, while paying due regard to the carrying capacity of natural ecosystems;

    4. Promote the forging of partnerships between the public and private sectors and between institutions at the national and local levels so as to improve the allocative efficiency of investments in water and sanitation and to increase operational efficiency;

    5. Support responsible agencies in developing their capacity for assessing the demand of communities and incorporating such demand in the planning of environmental infrastructure services;

    6. Implement the institutional and legal reforms necessary to remove unnecessary overlaps and redundancies in the functions and jurisdictions of multiple sectoral institutions and to ensure effective coordination among those institutions in the delivery and management of services;

    7. Introduce economic instruments and regulatory measures to reduce wastage of water and encourage recycling and reuse of waste water;

    8. Develop strategies to reduce the demand for limited water resources by increasing efficiencies in the agricultural and industrial sectors;

    9. Carry out tenure regularization, as appropriate, in informal settlements to achieve the minimum level of legal recognition required for the provision of basic services;

    10. Promote the development and use of efficient and safe sanitary systems, such as dry toilets, for the recycling of sewage and organic components of municipal solid waste into useful products such as fertilizers and biogas;

    11. Take into consideration the needs of women in making technological choices in respect of the level of and access to basic services;

    12. Ensure the full and equal participation of women in all decision-making relating to water resource conservation, management and technological choice.

    142. To improve the liveability of human settlements, Governments at the appropriate levels and in partnership with other interested parties should promote:

    1. The full participation of all interested parties in spatial planning, design and practices that contribute to sustainability, efficiency, convenience, accessibility, safety, security, aesthetics, diversity and social integration in human settlements;

    2. Interaction between and among different social groups through the development and maintenance of cultural facilities and communications infrastructure;

    3. An adequate supply of affordable housing for all;

    4. Legislation to safeguard the rights and interests of workers, to enhance consumer rights and to ensure security of tenure;

    5. An economic environment capable of generating employment opportunities, as well as offering a diversity of goods and services;

    6. Capacity-building, institutional development and civic engagement to contribute to integration and an overall productivity increase in human settlements.

    143. In a globalizing economy, the increasing occurrence of transboundary pollution and the transfer across national borders and regions of technologies hazardous to the environment can represent a serious threat to the environmental conditions of human settlements and the health of their inhabitants. Governments should therefore cooperate to develop further international legal mechanisms to implement principle 13 of the Rio Declaration regarding liability and compensation for adverse effects of environmental damage caused by activities within their jurisdiction or control to areas beyond their jurisdiction. The international community, international organizations and Governments should also seek appropriate preventive measures in cases of clear risk of major environmental accidents with transboundary effects. Furthermore, States should be guided by principle 16 of the Rio Declaration, which encourages the approach that the polluter should, in principle, bear the cost of pollution.

    144. In seeking to prevent transboundary pollution and minimize its impact on human settlements when it does occur, Governments should cooperate to develop appropriate mechanisms for assessing the environmental impact of proposed activities that are likely to have a significant adverse impact on the environment, including an evaluation of relevant comments provided by other potentially affected countries. Governments should also cooperate to develop and implement mechanisms for prior and timely notification, exchange of information and consultation in good faith, and mitigation of the potential adverse effects regarding those activities, taking into account existing international agreements and instruments.

    6. Sustainable energy use

    145. The use of energy is essential in urban centres for transportation, industrial production, and household and office activities. Current dependence in most urban centres on non-renewable energy sources can lead to climate change, air pollution and consequent environmental and human health problems, and may represent a serious threat to sustainable development. Sustainable energy production and use can be enhanced by encouraging energy efficiency, by such means as pricing policies, fuel switching, alternative energy, mass transit and public awareness. Human settlements and energy policies should be actively coordinated.


    146. In order to promote efficient and sustainable energy use, Governments at the appropriate levels, in partnership with the private sector, non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations and consumer groups, should, as appropriate:

    1. Promote urban and rural planning and design solutions that are conducive to the efficient use of energy and that pay due attention to end users and their attitudes and practices;

    2. Introduce appropriate measures to promote the use of renewable and safe sources of energy and to improve the efficiency of energy use in human settlements, while ensuring that people living in poverty and their families are not disadvantaged;

    3. Promote energy-efficient systems, for example, by introducing or supporting innovative energy-efficient measures in the generation, distribution and use of energy, such as combined heating and cooling systems that utilize waste heat recovery, and co-generation of heating and electricity;

    4. Encourage research, development and use of non-motorized or low-energy transport systems and the use of renewable energy sources and technologies, such as solar, wind and biomass energy;

    5. Encourage countries, in particular developing countries, to cooperate in exchanging knowledge, experience and know-how in the phasing out of lead gasoline, through, inter alia, the use of biomass ethanol as an environmentally sound substitute;

    6. Introduce or amend user charges and/or other measures to promote the efficient use of household energy;

    7. Stimulate, through fiscal incentives or other measures, and adopt energy-efficient and environmentally sound technologies in the rehabilitation of existing industries and services and in the construction of new ones;

    8. Support programmes for the reduction and neutralization of emissions of polluting gases originating in the generation, transportation and use of energy;

    9. Encourage and promote public education and media campaigns to encourage recycling, reuse and reduced energy consumption;

    10. Encourage the use of solar heating and cooling and electric technologies, energy efficient design, ventilation and improved insulation of buildings to reduce the consumption of energy in buildings;

    11. Encourage the use of safe industrial and agricultural waste products and other types of low-energy and recycled building materials in construction;

    12. Encourage and promote the development and dissemination of new and environmentally sound technologies, including the reduction of metal compounds as part of transportation fuels, and good practices in the use of energy.

    7. Sustainable transport and communication systems

    147. Transport and communication systems are the key to the movement of goods, people, information and ideas, and to access to markets, employment, schools and other facilities and land use, both within cities and between cities, and in rural and other remote areas. The transportation sector is a major consumer of non-renewable energy and of land and is a major contributor to pollution, congestion and accidents. Integrated transport and land-use policy and planning can reduce the ill effects of current transport systems. People living in poverty, women, children, youth, older persons and people with disabilities are particularly disadvantaged by the lack of accessible, affordable, safe and efficient public transport systems.

    148. Developments in communications technologies can have a significant impact on economic activity and human settlements patterns. It is important for the potential impacts to be addressed so as to ensure that maximum benefits accrue to the community and to reduce any adverse outcomes in relation to access to services.

    149. Managing transport in human settlements should be done in a way that promotes good access for all to places of work, social interaction and leisure and facilitates important economic activities, including obtaining food and other necessities of life. This should be done while reducing the negative effects of transport on the environment. Transport-system priorities should be given to reducing unnecessary travel through appropriate land-use and communication policies, developing transport policies that emphasize mobility alternatives other than the automobile, developing alternative fuels and alternative fuel vehicles, improving the environmental performance of existing modes of transport, and adopting appropriate pricing and other policies and regulations.

    150. Non-motorized transport is a major mode of mobility, particularly for low-income, vulnerable and disadvantaged groups. One structural measure to counteract the socio-economic marginalization of these groups is to foster their mobility by promoting affordable, efficient and energy-saving modes of transport.


    151. In order to achieve sustainable transport in human settlements, Governments at the appropriate levels, in partnership with the private sector, the community sector and other relevant interested parties, should:

    1. Support an integrated transport policy approach that explores the full array of technical and management options and pays due attention to the needs of all population groups, especially those whose mobility is constrained because of disability, age, poverty or any other factor;

    2. Coordinate land-use and transport planning in order to encourage spatial settlement patterns that facilitate access to such basic necessities as workplaces, schools, health care, places of worship, goods and services, and leisure, thereby reducing the need to travel;

    3. Encourage the use of an optimal combination of modes of transport, including walking, cycling and private and public means of transportation, through appropriate pricing, spatial settlement policies and regulatory measures;

    4. Promote and implement disincentive measures that discourage the increasing growth of private motorized traffic and reduce congestion, which is damaging environmentally, economically and socially, and to human health and safety, through pricing, traffic regulation, parking and land-use planning and traffic abatement methods, and by providing or encouraging effective alternative transport methods, particularly to the most congested areas;

    5. Provide or promote an effective, affordable, physically accessible and environmentally sound public transport and communication system, giving priority to collective means of transport with adequate carrying capacity and frequency that support basic needs and the main traffic flows;

    6. Promote, regulate and enforce quiet, use-efficient and low-polluting technologies, including fuel-efficient engine and emissions controls and fuel with a low level of polluting emissions and impact on the atmosphere and other alternative forms of energy;

    7. Encourage and promote public access to electronic information services.

    8. Conservation and rehabilitation of the historical and cultural heritage

    152. Historical places, objects and manifestations of cultural, scientific, symbolic, spiritual and religious value are important expressions of the culture, identity and religious beliefs of societies. Their role and importance, particularly in the light of the need for cultural identity and continuity in a rapidly changing world, need to be promoted. Buildings, spaces, places and landscapes charged with spiritual and religious value represent an important element of stable and humane social life and community pride. Conservation, rehabilitation and culturally sensitive adaptive reuse of urban, rural and architectural heritage are also in accordance with the sustainable use of natural and human-made resources. Access to culture and the cultural dimension of development is of the utmost importance and all people should be able to benefit from such access.


    153. To promote historical and cultural continuity and to encourage broad civic participation in all kinds of cultural activities, Governments at the appropriate levels, including local authorities, should:

    1. Identify and document, whenever possible, the historical and cultural significance of areas, sites, landscapes, ecosystems, buildings and other objects and manifestations and establish conservation goals relevant to the cultural and spiritual development of society;

    2. Promote the awareness of such heritage in order to highlight its value and the need for its conservation and the financial viability of rehabilitation;

    3. Encourage and support local heritage and cultural institutions, associations and communities in their conservation and rehabilitation efforts and inculcate in children and youth an adequate sense of their heritage;

    4. Promote adequate financial and legal support for the effective protection of the cultural heritage;

    5. Promote education and training in traditional skills in all disciplines appropriate to the conservation and promotion of heritage;

    6. Promote the active role of older persons as custodians of cultural heritage, knowledge, trades and skills.

    154. To integrate development with conservation and rehabilitation goals, Governments at the appropriate levels, including local authorities, should:

    1. Recognize that the historical and cultural heritage is an important asset, and strive to maintain the social, cultural and economic viability of historically and culturally important sites and communities;

    2. Preserve the inherited historical settlement and landscape forms, while protecting the integrity of the historical urban fabric and guiding new construction in historical areas;

    3. Provide adequate legal and financial support for the implementation of conservation and rehabilitation activities, in particular through adequate training of specialized human resources;

    4. Promote incentives for such conservation and rehabilitation to public, private and non-profit developers;

    5. Promote community-based action for the conservation, rehabilitation, regeneration and maintenance of neighbourhoods;

    6. Support public and private sector and community partnerships for the rehabilitation of inner cities and neighbourhoods;

    7. Ensure the incorporation of environmental concerns in conservation and rehabilitation projects;

    8. Take measures to reduce acid rain and other types of environmental pollution that damage buildings and other items of cultural and historical value;

    9. Adopt human settlements planning policies, including transport and other infrastructure policies, that avoid environmental degradation of historical and cultural areas;

    10. Ensure that the accessibility concerns of people with disabilities are incorporated in conservation and rehabilitation projects.

    9. Improving urban economies

    155. Urban economies are integral to the process of economic transformation and development. They are a prerequisite for the creation of a diversified economic base capable of generating employment opportunities. Many new jobs will need to be created in urban areas. Cities currently generate more than half of national economic activities worldwide. If other factors, such as growth of the population of cities and migration to cities, are addressed effectively through, inter alia, urban planning and control of the negative impacts of urbanization, cities could develop the capacity to maintain their productivity, to improve the living conditions of their residents and to manage natural resources in an ecologically sustainable way. Industry, together with trade and services, provides the main impetus to this process.

    156. Cities have traditionally served as economic centres and have become the primary providers of services. As engines of economic growth and development they function within a network of supporting economic activities located in their peri-urban and surrounding rural areas. For this reason, specific actions also need to be taken to develop and maintain efficient and affordable transport, information and communications systems and linkages with other urban centres and with rural areas and to seek reasonably balanced patterns of development, both geographically and economically. Rapid changes in production technologies and in trade and consumption patterns will lead to changes in urban spatial structures that, notwithstanding their nature, need to be addressed.

    157. Economic development and the provision of services can be enhanced through improved human settlements activities, such as urban revitalization, construction, upgrading and maintenance of infrastructural facilities, and building and civil works. These activities are also important growth factors in the generation of employment, income and efficiency in other sectors of the economy. In turn, in combination with appropriate environmental protection policies, they result in the sustainable improvement of the living conditions of city residents as well as of the efficiency and productivity of countries.


    158. To establish an effective financial base for urban development, Governments at the appropriate levels, including local authorities, in cooperation with trade unions, consumer organizations, business, industry, trade organizations and the financial sector, including the cooperatively organized business sector and non-governmental organizations, as appropriate, should:

    1. Formulate and implement financial policies that stimulate a broad range of urban employment opportunities;

    2. Encourage the formation of new public-private sector partnerships for institutions that are privately owned and managed but public in their function and purpose, and promote transparency and accountability of their operations.

    159. To provide opportunities for productive employment and private investment, Governments at the appropriate levels, including local authorities, in consultation with workers' and employers' organizations, chambers of commerce, industry, trade and consumer organizations, professional associations and the financial sector, including the cooperative sector, and in the context of comprehensive urban planning, should:

    1. Implement sustainable urban development policies that take account of and respond effectively to the needs of locally owned enterprises, and are not detrimental to the natural and human environment;

    2. Facilitate access to all levels of education and training;

    3. Promote an adequate supply and the environmentally sound allocation of sufficiently serviced land for the needs of the business community, with due regard to the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises;

    4. Offer opportunities for urban economic activities by facilitating the access of new and emerging businesses, and small and medium-sized enterprises, including the informal sector, to credit and finance, and by streamlining legal and administrative procedures;

    5. Facilitate, where appropriate, the opportunity for urban horticulture;

    6. Assist informal sector enterprises to become more productive and progressively integrated into the formal economy;

    7. Consider designating select areas for redevelopment within urban centres by providing packages of fiscal and financial incentives along with appropriate regulatory arrangements and the development of partnerships.

    160. To provide opportunities for small businesses and for the micro-enterprise and cooperative sectors, Governments at the appropriate levels, including local authorities, in consultation with non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations, and financial and vocational training institutions, should, as appropriate:

    1. Facilitate the extension to the informal sector of the protection of human rights in the field of labour, and promote respect for the relevant conventions of the International Labour Organization, including those on the prohibition of forced and child labour, freedom of association, the right to organize and bargain collectively, and the principle of non-discrimination;

    2. Promote and strengthen, as appropriate, programmes that integrate credit, finance, vocational training and technological transfer programmes in support of small and micro-enterprises and enterprises in the cooperative sector, particularly those developed and utilized by women;

    3. Encourage fair treatment of the informal sector, promote the use of environmentally sound practices and encourage links between financial institutions and non-governmental organizations that support the informal sector, where it exists;

    4. Integrate, where appropriate, the needs of the growing informal sector within planning, design and management systems by, inter alia, promoting its participation in the planning and decision-making process and by strengthening its linkages with the formal economy;

    5. Promote training for small and micro-enterprises and enterprises in the cooperative sector and support them in their efforts to improve their products, services, technology and distribution networks and to identify new market opportunities.

    161. To strengthen urban economies so that they may be competitive in a globalizing economy, Governments at the appropriate levels, including local authorities, in consultation with all interested parties, should, inter alia:

    1. Improve education and enhance job training in order to improve the quality of the local workforce;

    2. Support the restructuring of local industries, where appropriate, develop urban infrastructure and services, promote a reliable, efficient and environmentally sound supply of energy and enhance telecommunication networks;

    3. Review and revise, as appropriate, the regulatory framework in order to attract private investment;

    4. Prevent crime and enhance public safety in order to make urban areas more attractive for economic, social and cultural activities;

    5. Encourage sound financial practices at all levels of government;

    6. Promote legislative action that may be necessary to implement the above.

    162. To alleviate the adverse impacts of measures for structural and economic transition, Governments at the appropriate levels, including, where appropriate, local authorities, should:

    1. Promote an integrated approach by addressing the social, economic and environmental consequences of reforms on the development needs of human settlements;

    2. Promote the integrated functioning of housing markets so as to avoid segregation of the social housing sector;

    3. Implement appropriate basic social programmes and adequate resource allocation, in particular those measures affecting people living in poverty, people with disabilities, other vulnerable segments of society, micro-enterprises and other small businesses;

    4. Review the impact of structural adjustment on social development by paying particular attention to gender-sensitive assessments;

    5. Design policies to promote more equitable and enhanced access to income and resources;

    6. Support, as appropriate, public and private enterprises in their efforts to adapt to the changing requirements of technological and human resources development.

    10. Balanced development of settlements in rural regions

    163. Urban and rural areas are interdependent economically, socially and environmentally. At the turn of the century, a substantial proportion of the world's population will continue to live in rural settlements, particularly in developing countries. In order to achieve a more sustainable future for the Earth, these rural settlements need to be valued and supported. Insufficient infrastructure and services, lack of environmentally sound technology, and pollution resulting from the adverse impacts of unsustainable industrialization and urbanization contribute significantly to the degradation of the rural environment. Additionally, the lack of employment opportunities in rural areas increases rural-to-urban migration and results in a loss of human capacity in rural communities. Policies and programmes for the sustainable development of rural areas that integrate rural regions into the national economy require strong local and national institutions for the planning and management of human settlements that place emphasis on rural-urban linkages and treat villages and cities as two ends of a human settlements continuum.

    164. In many countries, rural populations, including indigenous people, play an important role in ensuring food security and in sustaining the social and ecological balance over large tracts of land and thus contribute significantly to the task of protecting biodiversity and fragile ecosystems and to the sustainable use of biological resources.


    165. To promote the sustainable development of rural settlements and to reduce rural-to-urban migration, Governments at the appropriate levels, including local authorities, should:

    1. Promote the active participation of all interested parties, including those in isolated and remote communities, in ensuring the integrated consideration of the environmental, social and economic objectives of rural development efforts;

    2. Take appropriate measures to improve the living and working conditions in regional urban centres, small towns and rural service centres;

    3. Foster a sustainable and diversified agricultural system in order to have vibrant rural communities;

    4. Provide infrastructure, services and incentives for investment in rural areas;

    5. Promote education and training in rural areas to facilitate employment and the use of appropriate technology.

    166. To promote the utilization of new and improved technologies and appropriate traditional practices in rural settlements development, Governments at the appropriate levels, including local authorities, in cooperation with the private sector, should:

    1. Improve access to information on agricultural production, marketing and pricing in rural and remote areas by using, inter alia, advanced and accessible communication technologies;

    2. In cooperation with farmers' organizations, women's groups and other interested parties, promote research and the dissemination of research findings in traditional, new and improved technologies for, inter alia, agriculture, aquaculture, forestry and agro-forestry.

    167. In establishing policies for sustainable regional development and management, Governments at the appropriate levels, including local authorities, should:

    1. Promote education and training programmes and establish procedures for the full participation of rural and indigenous people in the setting of priorities for balanced and ecologically viable regional development;

    2. Make full use of geographic information systems and environmental assessment methods for the preparation of environmentally sound regional development policies;

    3. Implement regional and rural development plans and programmes based on needs and economic viability;

    4. Establish an efficient and transparent system for the allocation of resources to rural areas based on people's needs.

    168. To strengthen sustainable development and employment opportunities in impoverished rural areas, Governments at the appropriate levels, including local authorities, should:

    1. Stimulate rural development by enhancing employment opportunities, providing educational and health facilities and services, improving housing, strengthening technical infrastructure and encouraging rural enterprises and sustainable agriculture;

    2. Establish priorities for regional infrastructure investments based on opportunities for economic return, social equity and environmental quality;

    3. Encourage the private sector to develop and strengthen contract-based wholesale markets and marketing intermediaries for rural products so as to improve and/or establish a cash-flow and futures contract economy in rural areas;

    4. Promote equitable and efficient access to markets as well as, where appropriate, pricing and payment systems for rural products, especially of food items consumed in urban areas;

    5. Promote products from rural areas in urban markets and rural service centres by improving access to market information and distribution centres and networks;

    6. Reduce significantly or eliminate environmentally harmful subsidies and other programmes, such as those that stimulate the excessive use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, and price control or subsidy systems that perpetuate unsustainable practices and production systems in rural and agricultural economies.

    169. An integrated approach is required to promote balanced and mutually supportive urban-rural development. To achieve this objective, Governments at the appropriate levels, including local authorities, with the support of the relevant international and regional institutions, should:

    1. Provide an appropriate legal, fiscal and organizational framework that is suitable for strengthening the networks of small and medium-sized settlements in rural areas;

    2. Facilitate the development of an efficient communication and distribution infrastructure for the exchange of information, labour, goods, services and capital between urban and rural areas;

    3. Promote broad cooperation among local communities to find integrated solutions for land-use, transport and environmental problems in an urban-rural context;

    4. Pursue a participatory approach to balanced and mutually supportive urban-rural development, based on a continuous dialogue among the interested parties involved in urban-rural development.

    11. Disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness, and post-disaster rehabilitation capabilities

    170. The impact on people and human settlements of natural and human-made disasters is becoming greater. Disasters are frequently caused by vulnerabilities created by human actions, such as uncontrolled or inadequately planned human settlements, lack of basic infrastructure and the occupation of disaster-prone areas. Armed conflicts also have consequences that affect human settlements and the country as a whole. Accordingly, both disasters and armed conflicts call for specific involvement and rehabilitation and reconstruction processes that may necessitate international involvement, at the request of the Government of the country concerned. The impact of such disasters and emergencies is especially severe in countries where prevention, preparedness, mitigation and response capacities are ineffective in dealing with such situations.

    171. The most efficient and effective disaster preparedness systems and capabilities for post-disaster response are usually provided through volunteer contributions and local authority actions at the neighbourhood level. These can operate independently, irrespective of reduced, damaged or destroyed infrastructure or capacity elsewhere. Specific actions are also required at the appropriate levels of government, including local authorities, in partnership with the private sector and in close coordination with all community groups, to put into place disaster preparedness and response capacities that are coordinated in their planning but flexible in their implementation. The reduction of vulnerability, as well as the capacity to respond, to disasters is directly related to the degree of decentralized access to information, communication and decision-making and the control of resources. National and international cooperation networks can facilitate rapid access to specialist expertise, which can help to build capacities for disaster reduction, to provide early warning of impending disasters and to mitigate their effects. Women and children are the most affected in situations of disaster, and their needs should be considered at all stages of disaster management. Women's active involvement in disaster planning and management should be encouraged.


    172. In improving natural and human-made disaster prevention, preparedness, mitigation and response, Governments at the appropriate levels, including local authorities, and in close consultation and cooperation with such entities as insurance companies, non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations, organized communities, and the academic, health and scientific community, should:

    1. Develop, adopt and enforce appropriate norms and by-laws for land-use, building and planning standards that are based on professionally established hazard and vulnerability assessments;

    2. Ensure the participation in disaster planning and management of all interested parties, including women, children, the elderly and people with disabilities, in recognition of their particular vulnerability to human-made and natural disasters;

    3. Encourage continued mobilization of domestic and international resources for disaster reduction activities;

    4. Promote and disseminate information on disaster-resistant construction methods and technologies for buildings and public works in general;

    5. Devise programmes to facilitate, where possible, voluntary relocation and access by all people to areas that are less disaster-prone;

    6. Develop training programmes on disaster-resistant construction methods for designers, contractors and builders. Some programmes should be directed particularly towards small enterprises, which build the great majority of housing and other small buildings in the developing countries;

    7. Take measures to upgrade, where necessary, the resistance of important infrastructure, lifelines and critical facilities, in particular where damage can cause secondary disasters and/or constrain emergency relief operations.

    173. Consideration should be given by all Governments and international organizations that have expertise in the field of clean-up and disposal of radioactive contaminants to providing appropriate assistance as may be requested for remedial purposes in adversely affected areas.

    174. With respect to the mitigation of disasters, Governments at the appropriate levels, including local authorities, in partnership with all interested parties, should, as appropriate:

    1. Establish a comprehensive information system that identifies and assesses the risks involved in disaster-prone areas and integrate it into human settlements planning and design;

    2. Promote and support low-cost, attainable solutions and innovative approaches to addressing critical risks of vulnerable communities through, inter alia, risk-mapping and community-focused vulnerability reduction programmes;

    3. Encourage, promote and support low-cost, attainable solutions, innovative approaches and appropriate building standards to address critical risks of valuable communities, through, inter alia, risk-mapping and community-focused vulnerability reduction programmes;

    4. Introduce a clear delineation of the roles and responsibilities of, and communication channels among, the various key functions and actors in pre-event disaster management, mitigation and preparedness activities, such as hazard and risk assessment, monitoring, prediction, prevention, relief, resettlement and emergency response;

    5. Promote and encourage all parts of society to participate in disaster preparedness planning in such areas as water and food storage, fuel and first-aid, and in disaster prevention through activities that build a culture of safety;

    6. Strengthen and/or develop global, regional, national and local early-warning systems to alert populations to impending disasters.

    175. In order to prevent technological and industrial disasters, Governments at the appropriate levels, including local authorities, as appropriate, should:

    1. Pursue the objectives of preventing major technological accidents and limiting their consequences through, inter alia, land-use policies and the promotion of safe technology;

    2. Take the necessary measures to control the siting of new developments surrounding dangerous industrial activities that may be liable to increase the risk of the effects of a major accident through appropriate consultation procedures to facilitate the implementation of the policies established under subparagraph (a) above;

    3. Introduce a clear definition of roles and responsibilities and of communication channels between the various key functions of disaster preparedness and prevention, including assessment, monitoring, prediction, prevention, relief, resettlement and emergency response;

    4. Promote and encourage broad-based participation in disaster preparedness activities by giving to the population living in the vicinity of a dangerous activity adequate and regular information on the potential hazards;

    5. Strengthen and/or develop global, regional and local early-warning systems to alert populations in case of a major technological accident.

    176. In preparing for and implementing post-disaster relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction, and resettlement, Governments at the appropriate levels, including local authorities, in partnership with all interested parties, should:

    1. Establish or strengthen disaster preparedness and response systems that clearly define the roles and responsibilities of, and communication channels between, the various functions and actors in disaster preparedness, and in post-event disaster management, including emergency management, relief and rehabilitation;

    2. Devise exercises to test emergency response and relief plans, promote research on the technical, social and economic aspects of post-disaster reconstruction and adopt effective strategies and guidelines for post-disaster reconstruction;

    3. Establish reliable communications, and response and decision-making capabilities at the national, local and community levels;

    4. Establish contingency plans, management and assistance systems, and arrangements for rehabilitation, reconstruction and resettlement;

    5. Strengthen scientific and engineering capacities for damage assessment and monitoring and for special rehabilitation and reconstruction techniques;

    6. Support all relevant interested parties in carrying out relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction activities;

    7. Identify and support approaches to cope with the urgent shelter requirements of returnees and internally displaced persons, including as appropriate, the construction of temporary housing with basic facilities, taking into account gender-specific needs;

    8. Identify approaches to minimize interruption to attendance in schools;

    9. Support work for immediate removal of anti-personnel land-mines following the cessation of armed conflict;

    10. Ensure that the particular needs of women, children, persons with disabilities and vulnerable groups are considered in all communications, rescue efforts, relocation, rehabilitation and reconstruction;

    11. Promote a cultural dimension in post-disaster rehabilitation processes;

    12. Recognize, support and facilitate the role of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and their member national societies in disaster prevention, preparedness, mitigation and response at the local, national and international levels;

    13. Encourage the International Committee of the Red Cross to take action in periods of armed conflict in order to reduce the suffering of the victims of conflicts and displaced persons.

    A. Introduction | B. Adequate shelter for all | C. Sustainable human settlements
    D. Capacity-building | E. International cooperation | F. Implementation and follow-up

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