The United Nations Millennium Declaration recognizes the dire circumstances of the world’s urban poor. It articulates the commitment of member States to improve the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by the year 2020 (Target 11, Millennium Development Goal No. 7). As large as 100 million may seem, however, it is only 10 per cent of the present worldwide slum population, which, left unchecked, will multiply threefold to 3 billion by the year 2050 (see Figure 1). Target 10 calls for the reduction by half of the number without sustainable access to safe drinking water.
The work of UN-HABITAT, as the focal point for implementation of the Habitat Agenda, the Declaration on Cities and other Human Settlements in the New Millennium and the Millennium Development Goal 7, targets 10 and 11, has drawn the agency and its partners in government, regional and local authorities, civil society, and the private sector increasingly closer to the lives of the urban poor. And although UN-HABITAT’s beneficiaries are the urban poor, its key audience remains the policy-maker at every level with the power and authority to tackle urban poverty by providing resources, by removing barriers and by ensuring their human and civil rights.