Equitable human settlements are those in which all people, without discrimination of any kind as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, have equal access to housing, infrastructure, health services, adequate food and water, education and open spaces.
In addition, such human settlements provide equal opportunity for a productive and freely chosen livelihood; equal access to economic resources, including the right to inheritance, the ownership of land and other property, credit, natural resources and appropriate technologies; equal opportunity for personal, spiritual, religious, cultural and social development; equal opportunity for participation in public decision-making; equal rights and obligations with regard to the conservation and use of natural and cultural resources; and equal access to mechanisms to ensure that rights are not violated. The empowerment of women and their full participation on the basis of equality in all spheres of society, whether rural or urban, are fundamental to sustainable human settlements development.
Sustainable development is essential for human settlements development, and gives full consideration to the needs and necessities of achieving economic growth, social development and environmental protection. Special consideration should be given to the specific situation and needs of developing countries and, as appropriate, of countries with economies in transition. Human settlements shall be planned, developed and improved in a manner that takes full account of sustainable development principles and all their components.
The quality of life of all people depends, among other economic, social, environmental and cultural factors, on the physical conditions and spatial characteristics of our villages, towns and cities. City layout and aesthetics, land-use patterns, population and building densities, transportation and ease of access for all to basic goods, services and public amenities have a crucial bearing on the liveability of settlements.
This is particularly important to vulnerable and disadvantaged persons, many of whom face barriers in access to shelter and in participating in shaping the future of their settlements. People’s need for community and their aspirations for more liveable neighbourhoods and settlements should guide the process of design, management and maintenance of human settlements.
Objectives of this endeavour include protecting public health, providing for safety and security, education and social integration, promoting equality and respect for diversity and cultural identities, increased accessibility for persons with disabilities, and preservation of historic, spiritual, religious and culturally significant buildings and districts, respecting local landscapes and treating the local environment with respect and care.
The preservation of the natural heritage and historical human settlements, including sites, monuments and buildings, particularly those protected under the UNESCO Convention on World Heritage Sites, should be assisted, including through international cooperation. It is also of crucial importance that spatial diversification and mixed use of housing and services be promoted at the local level in order to meet the diversity of needs and expectations.
The family is the basic unit of society and as such should be strengthened. It is entitled to receive comprehensive protection and support. In different cultural, political and social systems, various forms of the family exist. Marriage must be entered into with the free consent of the intending spouses, and husband and wife should be equal partners.
The rights, capabilities and responsibilities of family members must be respected. Human settlements planning should take into account the constructive role of the family in the design, development and management of such settlements. Society should facilitate, as appropriate, all necessary conditions for its integration, reunification, preservation, improvement, and protection within adequate shelter and with access to basic services and a sustainable livelihood.
Source: United Nations Habitat