Statement from Habitat for Humanity on the 2018 High Level Political Forum

ATLANTA (July 2, 2018) — Faced with an increasingly urbanizing world, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, have set ambitious targets to ensure that cities and human settlements grow in ways that are inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. Habitat for Humanity welcomes the focus of this year’s United Nations High Level Political Forum, “Transformation Towards Sustainable and Resilient Societies,” which will assess the progress countries have made toward fulfilling their collective ambition to achieve sustainability and resilience globally. 

Habitat for Humanity International is a nongovernmental housing organization, driven by a vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live. Anchored by the conviction that stable housing helps families achieve strength, stability and self-reliance, Habitat for Humanity works in more than 70 countries globally to help improve and promote access to decent and affordable shelter for all. We are also accredited by the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

Habitat for Humanity has been a vocal supporter of the inclusion of urban targets and indicators in the SDGs and applauds the UN and member states for recognizing the increasing role cities and human settlements play in building a shared sustainable future. We also commend the recognition that strengthening access to land is at the heart of ending poverty. Target 11.1 urges states to ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing, basic services and upgrade slums. Member states have committed to this priority in indicator 1.4.2, which aims to measure the proportion of adults with secure tenure rights to land, with legally recognized documentation and who perceive their rights to land as secure.

In 2016, at the UN’s Habitat III conference in Quito, Habitat for Humanity pledged its commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda by increasing access to decent shelter for over 200 million people by 2036. Since then, to achieve this goal, Habitat for Humanity has made progress in promoting sustainable cities, increasing security of tenure and catalyzing market development, specifically by:

  • Increasing access to decent and affordable housing through a new global urban approach, which guides the way we work in urban areas, to integrate operationally, programmatically and geographically, create systemic change, and strategic targeting of urban geographies.
  • Increasing access to land for shelter for 10 million people through our Solid Ground advocacy campaign by changing policies and systems around land rights.
  • Facilitating better functioning inclusive housing markets to enable over 8 million people to access improved shelter solutions through Habitat’s Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter.
  • Increasing access to affordable housing for 40 million people by 2020 through a wide array of community development strategies, advocacy initiatives and market development approaches.

Habitat for Humanity recognizes the overlapping importance of diverse SDGs in achieving prosperity for all and an end to poverty through comprehensive housing solutions. Effective housing solutions do not focus solely on increasing housing stock, but also address the seven rights to adequate housing: security of tenure, availability of services, affordability, habitability, accessibility, location and cultural adequacy. Housing is an effective vehicle for goods and service delivery, which ensures the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all (SDG 6); for access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all (SDG 7); and for strengthening the means of implementation and revitalizing the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development (SDG 17). Only by working in an integrated approach to housing and in partnership will we achieve progress in our collective endeavor to create resilient and sustainable societies.

By 2030, approximately 2 billion people will be in need of new or upgraded homes. The global community must act with ambition to achieve the urban targets to realize resilient and sustainable societies globally. Habitat for Humanity calls on all stakeholders to work together to help create an enabling environment and establish urban policies that prioritize affordable housing, secure land tenure and community-led development as a platform for leaving no one behind in our shared pursuit of inclusive, safe and resilient cities.

At the 2018 High Level Political Forum, we look forward to hearing how member states are achieving their goals, especially through partnerships with governments, civil society and communities. 

About Habitat for Humanity

Driven by the vision that everyone needs a decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity began in 1976 as a grassroots effort on a community farm in southern Georgia. The Christian housing organization has since grown to become a leading global nonprofit working in local communities across all 50 states in the U.S. and in more than 70 countries. Families and individuals in need of a hand up partner with Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place they can call home. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. Through financial support, volunteering or adding a voice to support affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves. Through shelter, we empower. To learn more, visit