Istanbul Declaration and the Habitat Agenda of the Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II)

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Year of adoption: 1996
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27. 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.

28. The eradication of poverty is essential for sustainable human
settlements. The principle of poverty eradication is based on the framework
adopted by the World Summit for Social Development and on the relevant
outcomes of other major United Nations conferences, including the objective of
meeting the basic needs of all people, especially those living in poverty and
disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, particularly in the developing countries
where poverty is acute, as well as the objective of enabling all women and men
to attain secure and sustainable livelihoods through freely chosen and
productive employment and work.

29. 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, as set out in Agenda 21 and related outcomes of the
United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. Sustainable human
settlements development ensures economic development, employment opportunities
and social progress, in harmony with the environment. It incorporates,
together with the principles of the Rio Declaration on Environment and
Development, which are equally important, and other outcomes of the
United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, the principles of
the precautionary approach, pollution prevention, respect for the carrying
capacity of ecosystems, and preservation of opportunities for future
generations. Production, consumption and transport should be managed in ways
that protect and conserve the stock of resources while drawing upon them.
Science and technology have a crucial role in shaping sustainable human
settlements and sustaining the ecosystems they depend upon. Sustainability of
human settlements entails their balanced geographical distribution or other
appropriate distribution in keeping with national conditions, promotion of
economic and social development, human health and education, and the
conservation of biological diversity and the sustainable use of its
components, and maintenance of cultural diversity as well as air, water,
forest, vegetation and soil qualities at standards sufficient to sustain human
life and well-being for future generations.

30. 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 lay-out 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.

31. 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

32. All people have rights and must also accept their responsibility to
respect and protect the rights of others – including future generations – and
to contribute actively to the common good. Sustainable human settlements are
those that, inter alia, generate a sense of citizenship and identity,
cooperation and dialogue for the common good, and a spirit of voluntarism and
civic engagement, where all people are encouraged and have an equal
opportunity to participate in decision-making and development. Governments at
all appropriate levels, including local authorities, have a responsibility to
ensure access to education and to protect their population’s health, safety
and general welfare. This requires, as appropriate, establishing policies,
laws and regulations for both public and private activities, encouraging
responsible private activities in all fields, facilitating community groups’
participation, adopting transparent procedures, encouraging public-spirited
leadership and public-private partnerships, and helping people to understand
and exercise their rights and responsibilities through open and effective
participatory processes, universal education and information dissemination.

33. Partnerships among countries and among all actors within countries from
public, private, voluntary and community-based organizations, the cooperative
sector, non-governmental organizations and individuals are essential to the
achievement of sustainable human settlements development and the provision of
adequate shelter for all and basic services. Partnerships can integrate and
mutually support objectives of broad-based participation through, inter alia,
forming alliances, pooling resources, sharing knowledge, contributing skills
and capitalizing on the comparative advantages of collective actions. The
processes can be made more effective by strengthening civil organizations at
all levels. Every effort must be made to encourage the collaboration and
partnership of all sectors of society and among all actors in decision-making
processes, as appropriate.

34. Solidarity with those belonging to disadvantaged and vulnerable groups,
including people living in poverty, as well as tolerance, non-discrimination
and cooperation among all people, families and communities are foundations for
social cohesion. Solidarity, cooperation and assistance should be enhanced by
the international community as well as by States and all other relevant actors
in response to the challenges of human settlements development. The
international community and Governments at all appropriate levels are called
upon to promote sound and effective policies and instruments, thereby
strengthening cooperation among Governments and non-governmental
organizations, as well as to mobilize complementary resources to meet these

35. To safeguard the interests of present and future generations in human
settlements is one of the fundamental goals of the international community.
The formulation and implementation of strategies for human settlements
development are primarily the responsibility of each country at the national
and local levels within the legal framework of each country, inter alia, by
creating an enabling environment for human settlements development, and should
take into account the economic, social and environmental diversity of
conditions in each country. New and additional financial resources from
various sources are necessary to achieve the goals of adequate shelter for all
and sustainable human settlements development in an urbanizing world. The
existing resources available to developing countries – public, private,
multilateral, bilateral, domestic and external – need to be enhanced through
appropriate and flexible mechanisms and economic instruments to support
adequate shelter for all and sustainable human settlements development. These
should be accompanied by concrete measures for international technical
cooperation and information exchange.

36. Human health and quality of life are at the centre of the effort to
develop sustainable human settlements. We therefore commit ourselves to
promoting and attaining the goals of universal and equal access to quality
education, the highest attainable standard of physical, mental and
environmental health, and the equal access of all to primary health care,
making particular efforts to rectify inequalities relating to social and
economic conditions, including housing, without distinction as to race,
national origin, gender, age, or disability, respecting and promoting our
common and particular cultures. Good health throughout the life-span of every
man and woman, good health for every child, and quality education for all are
fundamental to ensuring that people of all ages are able to develop their full
capacities in health and dignity and to participate fully in the social,
economic and political processes of human settlements, thus contributing,
inter alia, to the eradication of poverty. Sustainable human settlements
depend on the interactive development of policies and concrete actions to
provide access to food and nutrition, safe drinking water, sanitation, and
universal access to the widest range of primary health-care services,
consistent with the report of the International Conference on Population and
Development; to eradicate major diseases that take a heavy toll of human
lives, particularly childhood diseases; to create safe places to work and
live; and to protect the environment.