When Zero is Far Beyond Square One

June 3, 2014

By Chris Vincent: Director of Congressional Relations, Habitat for Humanity International

On June 2, the United Nations Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development released a “zero draft” report, meaning the first public version. Based on years’ worth of public consultations and global input from governments, civil society, business and other entities, this report provides a clear – though, by definition, unfinished – view into how the United Nations will update the existing Millennium Development Goals, which are set to expire in 2015. The final report will lay the foundation for the global development agenda for the next 15 years, or what many refer to as the “Post-2015 Agenda.” 

For two years, Habitat for Humanity has called for the Post-2015 Agenda to include a focus on housing and slums, specifically through supporting a broader lens on sustainable cities. We are pleased to see that the OWG included 17 new focus areas in its zero draft, one of which is: “Build inclusive, safe and sustainable cities and human settlements.” The first objective of this goal reads “by 2030, ensure universal access to adequate and affordable housing and basic services for all, and eliminate slum-like conditions everywhere.”

The OWG included several other important issues relating to housing and in which Habitat for Humanity is deeply involved, including land tenure, financial services, disaster resilience and gender. We applaud the OWG for their work to date and for their inclusion of these important issues. We strongly encourage the Open Working Group not to mainstream the focus on sustainable cities; to realize the ultimate goal of eliminating poverty, a focus area on sustainable cities and human settlements must be maintained in the final agenda. Habitat for Humanity looks forward to working with all stakeholders over the next two months as the report is finalized.


ADD YOUR VOICE to the call for housing to be a global priority to this petition to the UN and this petition to the U.S. Ambassador today.

Using these links:

U.S. petition (on Change.org)  http://chn.ge/1kDM2ip

Global petition (on Avaaz.org) http://bit.ly/1kGqaTV


You can learn more about Habitat for Humanity’s involvement in the Post-2015 discussion, position papers, and support of the process in the Publications section of its website.

On May 23, 2014, Habitat for Humanity joined a large coalition of civil society organizations in sending this letter to Ambassador Cousens regarding sustainable cities and human settements in the Post-2015 Agenda

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