According to the UN-HABITAT Global Activity Report 2015, in the last century, the world has been rapidly urbanizing. In 2008, for the first time in history, urban population outnumbered rural population. This milestone marked the advent of a new ‘urban millennium’ and, by 2050, it is expected that two-thirds of the world population will be living in urban areas. With more than half of humankind living in cities and the number of urban residents growing by nearly 73 million every year it is estimated that urban areas account for 70 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product and has therefore generated economic growth and prosperity for many.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development tackles this challenge through its Sustainable Development Goal 11, which aims to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”.
Both the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (Chapter II - Poverty Eradication, paragraph 11) and MDG 7, in its target 11, call for efforts to achieve "a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers", by 2020.
Sustainable human settlements development was also discussed by CSD at its second and third sessions. "Promoting sustainable human settlements development" is the subject of Chapter 7 of Agenda 21, which calls for 1) providing adequate shelter for all; 2) improving human settlements management; 3) promoting sustainable land-use planning and management; 4) promoting the integrated provision of environmental infrastructure: water, sanitation, drainage and solid waste management; 5) promoting sustainable energy and transport systems in human settlements; 6) promoting human settlements planning and management in disaster-prone areas; 7) promoting sustainable construction industry activities; and 8) promoting human resource development and capacity-building for human settlements development.