Celebrations planned around the globe to mark World Habitat Day
Nairobi 5 October 2015—The United Nations, national and regional governments, learning institutions, non-governmental organisations as well as private individuals have lined up a series of events to mark this year’s World Habitat Day which is being commemorated today. Celebrated on the first Monday of October every year, 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. The main event for this year is being commemorated at the United Nations headquarters in New York where Orhan Pamuk, the 2006 Nobel Prize for Literature winner, will deliver the keynote address. The theme for this year’s event is ‘Public Spaces for All’ and it dovetails with the general theme of “Urban October” which was launched by UN-Habitat in 2014 to emphasize the world’s urban challenges and engage the international community towards the New Urban Agenda. This year’s “Urban October” will conclude with World Cities Day on 31 October under the motto ‘Designed to Live Together’. In New York, UN-Habitat, the Consortium for Sustainable Urbanization, the American Institute Architects New York, UN Women, the Institute of Global Homelessness, the United Cities and Local Governments and the Permanent Mission of Grenada to the United Nations are collaborating in holding a high-level discussion, which will cover key developments in the area of public space design. In the years leading to the HABITAT III Conference, and the post 2015 development agenda solutions will be sought for the challenges, in an era of ever increasing urbanization. This event will bring together high-level experts and representatives from national and local governments, non-governmental organizations, institutes, foundations and industry, who will present case studies from around the world on public spaces. For the first time ever and in a true reflection of United Nation’s rallying call of ‘Delivering as One’, this year’s World Habitat Day will see UN-Habitat joining hands with its sister agency, UN Women. This partnership is done under the aegis of HeForShe, which is a global UN Women initiative that aims to engage men and boys, one half of humanity, in removing the social and cultural barriers that prevent the other half of humanity from achieving their potential. This partnership examines and promotes the role for men and women alike in the active creation of gender-equal public spaces for all. In Nairobi, the day will be marked with the premier of ‘Urban Nights’ which are special evenings set aside to screen films with themes on urban life at the PAWA 254 Studios in Nairobi. Started by celebrated activist journalist Boniface Mwangi, PAWA 254 is an arts hub based in Nairobi that offers workshops, training, forums and events for all artists who are creating for social impact. Urban Nights is a collaboration effort between UN-Habitat, Slum Film Festival, Urban Bites, Udada Festival and the Nairobi City County Government.