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Habitat II Conference                      [ Back to Habitat II ]

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IV Global Plan of Action

C. Sustainable human settlements development in an urbanizing world

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:

(a) 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;

(b) 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:

(a) Prohibit discriminatory, exclusionary practices related to shelter, employment and access to social and cultural facilities;

(b) Offer opportunities and physical space to encourage positive interaction among culturally diverse groups;

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

(d) 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:

(a) 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;

(b) 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;

(c) 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;

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

(e) 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;

(f) 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;

(g) 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;

(h) Promote community-based cooperative banking and responsible corporate reinvestment in local communities;

(i) 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;

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

(k) Link independent small businesses through flexible manufacturing networks;

(l) 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;

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

(n) 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;

(o) 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:

(a) 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;

(b) 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;

(c) Promote representative structures, while ensuring women's full and equal participation;

(d) 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;

(e) 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;

(f) 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;

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

(h) Promote equal access to all levels of education for girls and women;

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

(j) 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;

(k) 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;

(l) 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:

(a) Integrate youth concerns into all relevant national, subnational and local policies, strategies, programmes and projects;

(b) Enable youth by supporting and valuing their ability to play an active and creative role in building sustainable communities;

(c) 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;

(d) 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;

(e) 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;

(f) 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;

(g) 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:

(a) 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;

(b) 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;

(c) Promote representative structures, while ensuring the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities;

(d) 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;

(e) Promote equal access to all levels of education and skills development for persons with disabilities;

(f) 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;

(g) 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;

(h) Enhance community awareness of health-care issues facing persons with disabilities and design appropriate community responses;

(i) Provide persons with disabilities affordable and quality health care;

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

(k) 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;

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

(m) 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:

(a) 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;

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

(c) 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;

(d) 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:

(a) 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;

(b) Promote awareness and provide education in an effort to mitigate crime and violence and strengthen society;

(c) 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;

(d) 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;

(e) 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;

(f) Establish programmes designed to improve the skills of local leadership in group facilitation, conflict resolution and intervention;

(g) 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;

(h) 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;

(i) 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;

(j) 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:

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

(b) 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;

(c) Promote and establish operational partnerships with social welfare and community development initiatives;

(d) 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.

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