Every October, UN-Habitat and partners organize a month of activities, events and discussions on urban sustainability. This year, Urban October activities began with World Habitat Day on 5 October.

The purpose of World Habitat Day is to reflect on the state of our towns and cities, and on the basic right of all to adequate shelter. It is also intended to remind the world that we all have the power and the responsibility to shape the future of our cities and towns. World Habitat Day was established in 1985 by the United Nations General Assembly through Resolution 40/202, and was first celebrated in 1986. It takes place on the first Monday of October.

The theme of World Habitat Day 2020 was Housing For All: A better Urban Future, and the Global Observance was hosted by the city of Surabaya, in Indonesia.


The Global Observance of World Habitat Day 2020, co-hosted by UN-Habitat and the Government of Indonesia, was a two day hybrid event coming from Surabaya, Indonesia. See below for the full programme.


The second day of the Global Observance comprised of 3 Roundtables on "The launch of the Urban Agenda Platform: Reporting progress and sharing knowledge in the Decade of Action", "Responding to resilient, inclusive, gender-equal and green economic recovery in informal settlements" and "Housing at the centre of the COVID-19 response". See below for the Concept Notes.

Day 2: Roundtable 1 | Day 2: Roundtable 2 |

Global Observance Speeches and Presentations
UN-Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif Global Observance of World Habitat Day speech Monday 5 October 2020
Hon. Martha Delgado Undersecretary for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mexico Global Observance of World Habitat Day speech Monday 5 October 2020
Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana
Speech Minister of Housing, City and Territory of the Republic of Colombia, Jonathan Malagón
Hon. Celestine Ketcha Courtès Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Cameroon, Global Observance of World Habitat Day speech Monday 5 October 2020
H.R.H. Princess Lamia Bint Majed AlSaud UN-Habitat Regional Goodwill Ambassador for the Arab States Global Observance of World Habitat Day speech Monday 5 October 2020
Statement by UN-Habitat Executive Director, Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif
Information from events elsewhere
Norway World Habitat Day
World Habitat Day 2020 Statement - 5 October 2020
Messages from the UN Secretary General and UN-Habitat Executive Director
Secretary General's statement

Each year World Habitat Day focuses attention on the state of the world’s towns and cities. This year’s observance highlights the centrality of housing as a driver for sustainable urban development.

Executive Director's statement

This year’s pandemic has had a terrible impact on people in cities, towns, and communities. The World Habitat Day 2020 offers an important opportunity to reflect on the effect of the COVID-19 crisis, and also how we can shape the future of human settlements more resilient. Urban areas accounts for 95 per cent of all confirmed cases and have been at the epicentre of this pandemic. We have seen hospitals overflowing, jobs disappearing, schools closed and movement restricted. But we can, and we will recover, and use our experiences to build back better and greener.


Scroll of Honour

The UN-Habitat Scroll of Honour award was launched in 1989 and is one of the most prestigious human settlements award in the world. It aims to acknowledge initiatives which have made outstanding contributions in the field of human settlements, provision of housing, highlighting the plight of people living in poverty or who have been displaced, developing and improving human settlements and the quality of urban life to leave no one behind echoing the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 with emphasis on Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities.

The award, a plaque engraved with the name of the winner, is presented during the Global Observance of World Habitat Day of the same year.

Individuals, organizations, the private sector, government, non-governmental, bilateral and multi-lateral aid agencies dealing with sustainable projects which have had great impact in society, and any Habitat Agenda partner who has improved the lives of people can be nominated for the UN-Habitat Scroll of Honour.

The 2020 UN-Habitat Scroll of Honour awards were presented at the Global Observance of the World Habitat Day in Surabaya, Indonesia on 5 October 2020.

Press Releases

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

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