UN-Habitat, United Nations Human Settlements Programme, (UNHSP) is the United Nations agency for human settlements and sustainable urban development. It was established in 1978 as an outcome of the first UN Conference on Human Settlements and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat I) held in Vancouver, Canada, in 1976. Its task is to develop goals, priorities and guidelines for a human settlement policy of the United Nations. The UN-Habitat is headquartered in Nairobi.


The UN-Habitat is the leading agency within the UN system for the co-ordination of UN activities within the field of human settlements. It is mandated by the General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all.

UN-Habitat is responsible for

  • assisting countries with policy and technical advice
  • organizing expert meetings and seminars
  • facilitating the global exchange of information on shelter and sustainable human settlement development.

The UN Conferences on Housing (Habitat)

The UN Conferences on Housing (Habitat) are occurring in the bi-decennial cycle:

  • Habitat I (1976)
  • Habitat II (1996)
  • Habitat III (2016)

Habitat I

Habitat I was the first United Nations Conference on Human Settlements held in Vancouver, Canada, 31 May-11 June 1976. It was convened by the United Nations as governments began to recognize the magnitude and consequences of rapid urbanization. The conference outcomes were integrated in the Vancouver Declaration on Human Settlements, which carried an action plan with 64 recommendations for National Action. The Conference also established the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements - UNCHS (Habitat).

Habitat II

Habitat II, the second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements, was held in Istanbul, Turkey, 3-14 June, 1996. The conference adopted the Istanbul Declaration and the Habitat Agenda, through which governments committed themselves to the goals of adequate shelter for all and sustainable human settlements.

Final report (A/CONF.165/14)

General Assembly 25th special session

Five years after the second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II), the United Nations General Assembly held a special session for an overall review and appraisal of the implementation of the Habitat Agenda, New York, 6-8 June 2001. This event culminated in the United Nations Declaration on Cities and Other Human Settlements in the New Millennium, which reaffirms the will and commitment to implement fully the Istanbul Declaration on Human Settlements, in the spirit of the United Nations Millennium Declaration.

Final report (A/S-25/7/Rev.1)

Habitat III

Habitat III, the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, took place in Quito, Ecuador, 17-20 October 2016. The Habitat III Conference reinvigorates the global commitment to sustainable urbanization, to focus on the implementation of a “New Urban Agenda”. Issues such as how to plan and manage cities, towns and villages for sustainable development were discussed. The discussion of these questions shape the implementation of new global development and climate change goals. In particular the conference elaborates on Goal #11 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): "Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable."

More on the Habitat conferences

The UN-Habitat is a focal point for the implementation of the outcome of the UN Conferences on Human Settlements (Habitat). Reports from these conferences are contained in the following documents:

More on UN-Habitat

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UN documents and publications in catalogues and databases

  • United Nations Digital Library offers UN documents and open access publications, UN voting data and speeches, UN maps, Content in 6+ languages. Replaces the traditional online catalogue UNBISnet.
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  • Index to proceedings is an annual bibliographic guide to the proceedings and documentation of the major UN organs. The index includes:
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  • United Nations Documents Index (United Nations Digital Library) References to all documents by subject area are published. A collection of indexes is held by the Dag Hammarskjöld and Law Library, Uppsala, and the Libraries at UN Headquarters in New York and Geneva.
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Last modified: 2021-04-15