UN-Habitat works for a better urban future. Based in over 90 countries, we promote the development of socially and environmentally sustainable cities, towns & communities. UN-Habitat strives for adequate shelter with better living standards for all.

Urbanization is happening at a phenomenal rate. Half the world's population now live in cities, and this is projected to increase to two-thirds by 2050. Cities face massive environmental, socio-economic and spatial challenges. Although they can be a hub for economic development, cities can also exacerbate inequalities. Today many urban residents lack water, sanitation, energy and public transport. With no land security, many cannot access affordable, adequate homes, jobs, schools and health care.

UN-Habitat, the United Nations Programme for Human Settlements, was mandated by the UN General Assembly in 1978 to address issues of urban growth. We collaborate with governments and local partners to define the urban vision of tomorrow.

At UN-Habitat, we believe cities can solve many of the challenges our world faces. As a centre of excellence and innovation, we support countries and cities in taking advantage of the opportunities urbanization offers. Our high impact projects combine world-class expertise and local knowledge, and provide achievable, customizable and scalable solutions to the toughest urbanization problems. We want to ensure cities become inclusive and affordable drivers of economic growth, social development and environmental change.


UN-Habitat's objective is to advance sustainable urbanization as a driver of development and peace to improve living conditions for all.

A new focus for UN-Habitat

UN-Habitat promotes transformative change in cities and human settlements through knowledge, policy advice, technical assistance and collaborative action to leave no one and no place behind.
Reduced spatial inequality and poverty in communities across the urban-rural continuum
Reduced spatial inequality and poverty in communities across the urban-rural continuum
Enhanced shared prosperity for cities and regions
Enhanced shared prosperity for cities and regions
Strengthened climate action and improved urban environment
Strengthened climate action and improved urban environment
Effective urban crises prevention and response
Effective urban crises prevention and response

Sustainable Development Goals


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With humanity becoming increasingly urban, trends indicate poverty is also becoming increasingly urban. Sustainable urbanization improves the lives of people in human settlements around the world and increases prosperity.

Sustainable urbanization increases food security. The presence of cultivatable land for farming provides food for urban areas and supports agricultural productivity whilst improving the livelihoods of rural populations.

Through integrated urban planning, access to basic services, and access to decent and affordable housing, sustainable cities contribute to better health.

Inclusive and sustainable cities provide better access to education by the urban poor, women and girls. Inclusive and equitable education provides adequate skills for decent jobs and improved living conditions.

Providing women and girls with equal access to education, health care, decent work, and representation in political and economic decision-making processes nurtures sustainable economies, and helps develop inclusive and sustainable cities.

Effective urban planning and urban waste management systems ensure access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, and improve the quality and sustainability of water resources worldwide.

Access to clean and efficient energy systems is crucial for the development of safe, resilient and sustainable cities, allowing them to grow and perform efficiently while reducing pollution and mitigating climate change.

Inclusive and sustainable cities are a positive and potent force for addressing sustainable economic growth and prosperity, as they drive innovation, consumption and investment.

Investment in infrastructure, industrialization and innovation are key to making cities safe, resilient, inclusive and sustainable.

Sustainable cities address prevailing inequalities through better urban planning, design and governance, providing better opportunities for employment, affordable housing and accessible transport.

Half the world's population now live in cities, and this is projected to increase to two-thirds by 2050. Cities can solve many of the challenges our world faces. Urban areas drive innovation, consumption and investment worldwide, making them a positive and potent force for addressing sustainable economic growth, urban development and prosperity.

Sustainable urbanization uses natural resources innovatively and efficiently. These sustainable patterns of production and consumption increase cities productivity and reduce negative environmental impacts.

Sustainable cities provide real opportunities to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change, through environmentally sustainable and resilient urban design, development and governance.

Sustainable urban planning and proper management of resources can reduce the pressure coastal cities put on the environment. Proper management of waste generated by cities prevents ocean pollution and protects biodiversity.

Sustainable urbanization and better urban planning, including the development of green infrastructures and the safe management and treatment of waste, can conserve and restore terrestrial ecosystems.

Peaceful, inclusive and sustainable cities rely on the kind of institutions we build in cities. This impacts how we govern our cities as well as how we implement the process of urbanization itself.

Increasing international cooperation is seen as vital to achieving each of the 16 previous goals. Achieving the SDGs, including Goal 11, will only be possible if there are strong partnerships within and across with all the goals.

Sustainable Development Goals

The New Urban Agenda

The New Urban Agenda represents a shared vision for a better and more sustainable future
- one in which all people have equal rights and access to the benefits and opportunities that cities can offer, and in which the international community reconsiders the urban systems and physical form of our urban spaces to achieve this. UN-Habitat is the focal point on sustainable urbanization and human settlements in the United Nations system and plays an important role in implementing the New Urban Agenda.
Governance Structure
Governance Structure Graphic
UN-Habitat Secretariat
The UN-Habitat Secretariat designs, implements, manages and monitors initiatives for sustainable urbanisation. It is also mandated to carry out research activities and to facilitate the exchange of information, knowledge and best practices on global trends, effective approaches and new technologies regarding urbanisation.
Governing Bodies
UN-Habitat’s governance structure is a three-tier structure made up of the UN-Habitat Assembly, the Executive Board and the Committee of Permanent Representatives. The three governing bodies together strengthen the accountability and transparency of UN-Habitat, and provide an effective oversight mechanism for UN-Habitat to enhance its normative and operational activities.
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