World Habitat Day 2009 was held on 5 October 2009, under the theme – Planning our urban future. The United Nations chose this theme to raise awareness of the need to improve urban planning to deal with new major challenges of the 21st century.

The main celebration hosted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington D.C., U.S.A.

For more information visit the World Habitat Day 2009 website.

Messages from the UN Secretary General and the Executive Director
The Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon

The theme of this year’s observance of World Habitat Day, Planning our Urban Future, is meant to underscore the urgency of meeting the needs of city dwellers in a rapidly urbanizing world.

The major urban challenges of the twenty-first century include the rapid growth of many cities and the decline of others, the expansion of the informal sector, and the role of cities in causing or mitigating climate change. Evidence from around the world suggests that governments at all levels are largely failing to address these challenges. Urban sprawl and unplanned development are among the most visible consequences. Hundreds of millions of urban dwellers are also increasingly vulnerable to rising sea levels, coastal flooding and other climate-related hazards.

The Executive Director, Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka

We have chosen the theme, Planning our Urban Future, for World Habitat Day 2009 for a simple but very important reason: In many parts of our world urban planning systems have changed very little. Indeed, they are often contributors to urban problems rather than tools for human and environmental improvement.

It is clear to us at UN-HABITAT and to our partners in government, municipalities, and at community level that current approaches to planning must change and that a new role for planning in sustainable urban development has to be found.

Yet to blame urban planners and their plans for our urban problems is like turning back the clock and going back in history to a time when no-one could have foreseen the problems we now face.

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