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1. Human Settlements

Planning and Management

of Human Settlements for Environmental Quality


Mankind is moving rapidly to the realization that the concept of the human environment must be based on the recognition that the world is a whole, of which man is an integral part, and must include not only the physical world around us but our shelters, our communities, and our total sense of well-being. Where and how we live, how we provide the necessities and the amenities of life, indeed, how we relate to each other and govern our actions—these are all aspects of the human environment. Each of them, we now realize, must be specifically evaluated in terms of its contribution to the individual's opportunity for self-fulfillment.

Creating the conditions for human development has often meant interference with the “natural order” and, in many cases, outright destruction of parts of it. In particular, the construction of human settlements has involved innumerable intrusions upon the natural order, some of which have been “beneficial” to nature, some detrimental”. Thus, agriculture required the uprooting of trees and grassland so that man could plant and grow "alien” foods. Not only for the sake of food but for basic survival and increased well-being man has killed off many species. We propose, however, that human settlements be viewed as aspects of the natural environment and its ongoing ecological systems. Necessary for man's survival and development, they become part of the ecosystem. Our concern should be not how to prevent human settlements from infringing upon the natural order, but rather how human settlements can enhance the total environment.


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We believe there can be ecologically sound human settlements, within which man can live decently and in ways which will enhance the beauty and harmony of the world. To develop such settlements, we must understand the complexity of the processes involved. An ecologically sound process must deal not only with pollution, but physical and mental health, the conservation of resources (including aesthetically interesting and pleasing vistas), the transportation of people and the communication of ideas, and a host of other social, cultural, economic, and political issues. For example, we must find ways to encourage the continued growth of distinct, organic cultural communities. We must continuously attempt to improve socioeconomic systems that deny the basic equality of all persons or that permit oppression and exploitation. We must develop political arrangements that give the individual the opportunity to exercise greater control over his own destiny. All of these can contribute to the development of ecologically sound human settlements.

Cities have been called the greatest achievement of mankind, indeed the flowering of our civilization. They are the centers of knowledge and have nourished the arts from the earliest times. For the developing nations, the cities often serve not only as cultural centers, but also as the arenas in which the sense of nationality and peoplehood is best expressed. Yet, throughout the world, the rapid growth of urbanization is a serious and fundamental problem. In nation after nation, rural people are leaving the countryside to seek a new and hopefully better life in the cities, both new and old. Unfortunately, the life awaiting them, though better in ways than their previous life, often is not conducive to sound human development. Adding to the potential for misery in the cities is the high birth rate which increases the already overloaded demand for food and shelter.

An open-minded approach and considerable research will be required to ascertain which political, social, or economic factors have been responsible for this process of human agglomeration. The mechanization of agriculture in many nations has forced the farmer off his land and into the cities. Other recent large-scale migrations of people, who have become “refugee” populations, may have resulted less from the workings of the laws of economics than from racial hatreds and the pursuit of war and power politics.

We believe that the improvement of human settlements, including cities, is an absolute prerequisite for creating the conditions conducive to human development. The cities, in particular, are, and historically have been, the locus of man's intellectual and cultural development. The development of cities should be seen as a part of, and a requirement for, total national development, both of which should proceed in full awareness of the total environment.


A. Recommendations International

1. A Division of Human Settlements should be created under the jurisdiction of the United Nations Intergovernmental Body for the Environment. This Division will report to the Intergovernmental Body and would be available to the Environmental Executive 2 for advice, consultations, and special projects. Like other United Nations agencies and groups, the Division would be subject to guidance by the environmental executive. It is further recommended that the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Centre on Housing, Building, and Planning be absorbed into this Division.

2. The Division of Human Settlements should as its principal functions:

(a) Coordinate efforts to inform the nations of the world about the problems of the uncontrolled growth of population and the methods available for assisting in its control. It will also coordinate and sponsor efforts to develop better and safer methods of contraception; in cooperation with other international agencies concerned with population control, it should assist all nations, including the developed ones, in evaluating the impact of population growth on the quality of life.

(b) Represent, within the United Nations and the international community, the interests of man in terms of his need for adequate shelter in viable communities where he will have the maximum opportunity to develop his unique potential.

(c) Coordinate the work of the various governmental and nongovernmental international agencies dealing with the issues of human settlements, viewing itself as a catalyst and promoter, but not a largescale operator of programs.

(d) Provide assistance to all nations in the area of human settlements through:

(1) Technical assistance:

(i) The Division should support existing research and start new inquiries on questions of technology, finance, governance, industrial development, and pollution as they relate to human settlements, and it should ensure wide-spread publication of the findings.

(ii) The Division should assist in the establishment of regional training centers, such as the Nagaya Center in Japan, and where necessary, provide the funds for their operation.

1 See Chapter VI, Advisory Committee Recommendation 6. See Chapter VI, Advisory Committee Recommendation 1.

(iii) The Division should help in the provision of specific professional and technical advice on environmental questions.

(2) Financial assistance: The Division should use some of its funds to assist in developing local and regional institutions and organizations that seek capital resources to improve human settlements. It should also work to create a system that would provide for international capital investment in housing for the developing nations.

3. No less than $50 million annually, for the first 5 years, and, thereafter, at least $100 million annually, of the United Nations Environmental Fund should be assigned to the Division of Human Settlements.

4. All development assistance agencies, whether international (such as the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) or International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD)) regional, or national, should include the total infrastructure costs of human settlements as part of economic or industrial development loans or grants.

5. The nations of the world should recognize their moral obligations to assist in the resettlement of persons displaced by their actions, including military operations and political changes.

6. The United Nations Declaration on Human Rights should be amended to include a provision that each individual has a right to a decent home in a suitable living environment.

7. An international program should be undertaken to develop transportation systems that are in harmony with the goal of ecologically sound human settlements; planning for transportation systems should be a major part of a "comprehensive planning approach” which is essential for the development of sound human settlements.


B. Recommendations-National

1. Nations should recognize that the human environment includes the locus of the individual's activity, his opportunity for self-development, and the sense of his well-being.

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3 It is recommended that (d) be added to Recommendation 135 of the Report by the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment on the "Planning and Management of Human Settlements for Environmental Quality" ((A/CONF. 48/6, Dec. 23, 1971)). The Report appears at the end of this chapter with the Advisory Committee responses.

4 It is recommended that this be added to Recommendation 136 of the United Nations Report on “Human Settlements for Environmental Quality."

5 It is recommended that this be added to Recommendation 134 (a) of the United Nations Report on “Human Settlements for Environmental Quality.”





2. Nations should recognize that an ecologically sound system necessitates an equitable socioeconomic structure.

3. National population policies should recognize that population growth and distribution are affected by changes in the socioeconomic and cultural structures of the society.?

4. Settlements in which economic growth is not the prime focus of development should be encouraged.

5. Policies should be developed and implemented on the local and regional levels, that will ensure the public's ability to recapture the appreciated value of land resulting from development."

6. A goal of environmental development should be organic communities growing out of the active participation of the citizens in the planning and implementation processes. One way to achieve this goal is through the use of neighborhood units as the urban building blocks.






A. Recommendations International 1. Division of Human Settlements

For a number of years there have been proposals to establish an International Agency for Urban Development and Housing which would coordinate international action in the housing and community development fields. The only response to these proposals occurred 10 years ago with the establishment within ECOSOC of the Centre for Housing, Building, and Planning. It has languished, however, for lack of funds and adequate staff. While other international agencies have units concerned with urbanization, there is no group at a high enough level to provide effective coordination or undertake meaningful new programs. The need for such an organization has grown at the same disturbing rate as has urbanization in the developing nations.

The creation of an Intergovernmental Body for the Environment provides a unique opportunity to deal with the needs of the world's slums, squatter sites, refugee camps, and new urban centers. Rather

8 It is recommended that this be added to Recommendation 134 (a), 140, 145 of the United Nations Report on "Human Settlements for Environmental Quality.”

7 It is recommended that this be added to Recommendation 134 (c) of the United Nations Report on “Human Settlements for Environmental Quality.”

8 It is recommended that this be added to Recommendation 134 (f) of the United Nations Report on “Human Settlements for Environmental Quality.”

9 It is recommended that this be added to Recommendation 134 (h) of the United Nations Report on “Human Settlements for Environmental Quality.”

10 It is recommended that this be added to Recommendation 134 (k) of the United Nations Report on “Human Settlements for Environmental Quality."

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