World Habitat Day is celebrated the first Monday of October and launches Urban October. The day centres around the global observance, which is held in a different country each year with keynote speakers and roundtable discussions focused on a specific theme. World Habitat Day was first celebrated in 1986 in Nairobi, Kenya, with the theme ‘Shelter is my right’. The Day 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.

On 3 October 2022, the Global Observance of World Habitat Day, under the theme Mind the Gap. Leave NoOne and No Place Behind, will look at the problem of growing inequality and challenges in cities and human settlements.

World Habitat Day 2022 seeks to draw attention to the growing inequalities and vulnerabilities that have been exacerbated by the triple ‘C’ crises — COVID-19, Climate and Conflict.

This year’s theme – ‘Mind the Gap. Leave No One and No Place Behind’ – puts the spotlight on widening inequalities in living conditions across the world. A cascade of challenges – from climate chaos and conflicts to COVID-19 – is hitting the most vulnerable populations the hardest, said UN Secretary General.

The COVID pandemic, recent conflicts and the climate emergency have reversed years of progress in our fight against poverty. Today we are witnessing the emergence of newly poor people – those of us who have fallen into poverty due to the FOUR Cs: Covid, Conflict and Climate Crises. The UN-Habitat’s World Cities Report estimates that up to 163 million newly poor people now live in cities and urban areas. They have lost their income, lack decent housing and cannot access basic services, said UN Executive Director.

The pandemic and recent conflicts have reversed years of progress made in the fight against poverty, resulting in the emergence of newly poor people — those who would have exited poverty in the absence of the pandemic but remain poor, and those who have fallen into poverty on account of the pandemic. According to the UN-Habitat’s World Cities Report, the number of people affected was between 119 and 124 million in 2020, and between 143 and 163 million in 2021. Tackling urban poverty and inequality have become an urgent global priority.

Cities and local governments play a front-line role in responding to crises and emergencies, as well as in planning for an inclusive, resilient, and green future. To prepare urban areas for future catastrophes, we need to start with cities. Thus, local action and local implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals is more important than ever.

About the Author: Maryam Eqan is an Executive In-chief and Founder of The Earth Needs Love. She believes in youth engagement and activism for environment, climate, and sustainable development.