World Habitat Day 2009 celebrated in Washington, D.C.
A series of events in Washington, D.C. marked the celebration of World Habitat Day (WHD) 2009. This year’s theme was “Planning Our Urban Future.”
The official ceremony to launch the WHD 2009 was held on 5 October at the National Building Museum in collaboration with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, The Rockefeller Foundation, and Habitat for Humanity.
The annual event is mandated by the General Assembly of the United Nations to promote innovations in affordable housing and sustainable urban development. This is the first time that a U.S. city has hosted the global event.
UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of UN-HABITAT Dr. Anna Tibaijuka, and Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan co-hosted the event. The planned activities were intended to help reflect on the state of human settlements of the world and the basic right to adequate shelter for all.
In a special videotaped message, President Obama addressed the gathering and stressed the importance of forming partnerships and working together to solve the global housing crisis.
A highlight of World Habitat Day activities in Washington, D.C. is the powerful multimedia exhibit “The Places We Live” about life in the slums. Sponsored by the Cities Alliance, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the World Bank, the exhibit was on display at the National Building Museum until 15 November 2009.
The exhibit is a powerful reminder of the living conditions of millions around the world and takes visitors into the living spaces of 20 different families in four slums around the world: Nairobi, Kenya; Dharavi, India; Caracas, Venezuela; and Jakarta, Indonesia.
The Cities Alliance, USAID, and The World Bank sponsored a private reception on 4 October 2009 to mark the official opening of the exhibition. It was held at the Pension Commissioner’s Suite of theNational Building Museum. Addressing those gathered at the event, the creator of the exhibit, photographer Jonas Bendiksen said that he was encouraged by the hope that existed in the slums despite all the hardships.