This article was updated on October 4th, 2021
My fellow eco-friendlies! Today, across the world, the leading minds of sustainability will be kicking off a month of promotions of a better urban future starting with World Habitat Day, which encourages the need to accelerate urban action for a carbon-free world.
In 1985, the United Nations designated the first October Monday of each year to celebrate World Habitat Day and create a space to discuss the future of sustainable cities, communities, countries, and ultimately, to create a sustainable world. In 2020, with the theme Housing for All: A Better Urban Future, 69 events were celebrated globally in 42 countries and 58 cities.
This year’s spotlight shines the impact that transportation, buildings, energy, and waste management have in cities, which are responsible for 70 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. It also urges local governments, the private sector, and communities to work towards the common goal of creating sustainable, carbon-neutral, inclusive cities and towns to benefit the planet’s wellbeing, including all of us. World Habitat Day will also help expand on the global Race to Zero Campaign and UN Habitat’s ClimateAction4Cities.
Our planet’s cities collectively generate beyond 2 billion tonnes of garbage in a single year, but 25 percent of people today do not have a functioning waste collection system. The United Nations predicts that by 2050, the world will be generating 4 billion tonnes of waste a year. When waste isn’t collected properly, disease, infection, flooding, and more plagued humans and animals alike. According to the World Economic Forum, anywhere between 400,000 people and 1 million people die in a year because of mishandled waste. This problem only worsens as more and more countries develop because, in modern times, prosperity and development are synonymous with trash production on an unfathomable level. Countries have begun making changes, banning plastic bags, and promoting proper waste disposal. Still, a global effort like World Habitat Day could bring some more obscure and futuristic solutions to the forefront.
The main event in observance of World Habitat Day will take place in Yaoundé, Cameroon, where discussions about Renewable Resources for Urban Climate Mitigation, Urban Climate Action through low-Carbon Planning and Mobility, as well as Clean Cities for everyone – moving to a zero-carbon and waste world, will be held. However, all sectors worldwide are called to participate by organizing workshops, webinars, panel discussions, and interviews throughout the month to help raise awareness. The month of celebration will culminate on October 31st with World Cities Day.
In the words of Albert Einstein, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
This World Habitat Day, we challenge you to consciously think about how much waste you form in just a single day and try to see your waste formation in a new light. From the Ziploc baggie you use for your lunch, to the water in your laundry machine, to the food waste you throw in the bin – we challenge you to think about where the final destination will be for whatever item you use, even if you only think of it for a day. Is there a way to change just one thing in your daily routine? Can you compost your orange peel, use a reusable coffee bag, make an effort to learn about the process of waste management in your community?
Do you know where the nearest landfill is in relation to your neighborhood? Do you know where the water in your sink goes? Take today to change your thinking, even if only for 24 hours, and tells us how you are planning to start contributing to a better urban future!