The right to shelter and security of tenure is a basic human right. Without security of shelter it is difficult for most men and women to live happy and productive lives and be engaged citizens contributing to the well-being of their families, communities, towns, cities and countries.
It is the responsibility of national governments along with sub-national governments to ensure that adequate, safe, affordable and gender-and environmentally-sensitive housing and related services and infrastructure are available to all their citizens – young and old, male and female, rich and poor, including if they have special needs due their disabilities, age, marital or legal status.
Muslim cities in the Islamic world are placed in the area that belongs to the old civilization, the major one being that of Mesopotamia. All the countries in the Islamic world are specific in settlement and have different typology of settlement and different identities. We have a variety of cities and urban fabric in this area because we have very different climates and landscapes. This area is completely unique in the field of history, culture and society.
There are lots of experience and best practices in housing and urbanization. The total population of Islamic countries is approximately 1.6 billion people. Now in 2016, the newest SDG (sustainable development goals) approved in the United Nations General Assembly on the 70th Anniversary of the United Nations:
«End poverty in all its forms everywhere; End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture; Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages; Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities; Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls; Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all; Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all; Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation; Reduce inequality within and among countries; Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable; Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns; Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts; Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development; Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss; Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels; and to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.» - United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs;
Now half the population of the earth equals 3.5 billion people living in cities and the United Nations estimates that this amount will be increased to 60 of the population of the world by 2035. The majority of this growth belongs to the developing world. It means that in the Islamic countries we have an increasing of the urbanization during the next years and then we have to provide good structure and we have to create new urban agendas for these countries.
One of the main issues in the field of urbanization is housing. Housing is one of the five main aspects of challenges of both local and central governments during the past and into the future. And we need to concentrate about the more efficient and interactive programs and strategies. In fact, we cannot solve all the problems in the housing issue in one or some years. That is the huge challenge in the period of the 21st Century. And of course we have to expect more challenges for the future based on the increasing urban population.
UN-Habitat’s Global Housing Strategy Framework Document (2013) is a call to national governments to reengage in the housing sector on the basis on principles of inclusive cities.
One of the main objectives of the Strategy is for member States to develop national housing strategies. A national housing strategy, as a pillar of national urban policy, comprises agreed sets of activities formalized in Strategy documents and their updates. It guides polices, planning and programming of investment, management and maintenance activities in the areas of housing, slum upgrading and slum prevention. These need to be formulated with the full participation of all relevant stakeholders. Housing strategies, at national and city levels, are inseparable from land-use strategies, infrastructure strategies, including mobility and local economic development strategies, all integrated in the broad, participatory and inclusive urban planning and management process within a supportive legal and regulatory framework 1.
In recognition of the need for an urgent focus on housing in most countries of the world, the World Assembly of Islamic Cities (WAIC) in cooperation with International City Leaders (ICL) is proposing a w1ay to engage in this conversation and strategy development with Islamic cities in Western and Central Asia.
The Global Secretariat of House will identify cities form 58 Islamic countries which have had a positive impact on living environment and quality of life, and will provide other countries the experiences. These countries are following as :
Iran, Turkey, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Egypt, Sudan, Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Sierra Leone, Tunisia, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Mauritius, Somalia, Palestine, Djibouti, Khmer Islands, Western Sahara, Brunei, Chechnya Daghestan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Crimea, Suriname, Guyana, Mali, Maldives, Kyrgyzstan, Senegal, Mozambique, Niger, Cameroon, Gambia, Togo, Gabon, Chad, Guinea Bissau.
Most of man-made creations in cities are simply the “houses”. House is a very important topic in the context of living environment and settlement; and the quality of life is in part linked to the concept of settlement. Islamic civilization is particularly important for being situated in a territory with an ancient civilization. This has enriched it with different styles of living space in a variety of climatic, geographical, historical, and typological features. It is essential that a centralized planning on the topic of “Housing” is initiated and this is considered as one of the main urban concerns.
In the meantime, understanding the history of housing in Islamic countries and the assessment of the current situation is very important, as is to apply a certain framework and sets of standards for housing rights based on religious and cultural beliefs of the Islamic civilization.
On this basis, the main projects involving the international Secretariat of Housing is as follows.
1- Encyclopedia of housing in Islamic World Cities
2- Right-based bill of Housing in an Islamic perspective
3- Organizing a biennial conference in Islamic Cities
Assessment of the current situation and anticipation of what to expect in the future based on the three projects above are the main topics of concern in this Secretariat.
Looking at the present situation of housing in Islamic Countries will lead to the conclusion that although these countries have had a brilliant history, the present constructions do not enjoy favorable quality of living environment and standards as these have been dramatically reduced.
Since cities are considered the manifestations of civilizations, we can truly conclude that we are living in an age of failure and collapse resulted from the present situation in Islamic cities leading to the decline in the quality of living environment that ultimately compromises the quality of contemporary civilization in the Islamic World.
This is a phenomenon that those involved in urban management arena should address seriously.
Islamic civilization is located in the most ancient residential area of the world. The history of housing and civilized life in this are goes back to the 7th century BC one average. Climatic diversity of the region and the establishment of various ethnic backgrounds have created an abundance of different species with numerous differences both in detail or in general. The Islamic culture and style of habitation and spatial hierarchy resulted from social structures based on sharia law, has led to the emergence of a unique architectural style. This can be assessed as a common characteristic in the region.
Nowadays, the rediscovery of this spatial-structural identity which interacts with the quality of life and habitation in these cities in a multilateral way, is important in several aspects.
Firstly, the history behind these ancient cities in this region, is an evidence of their identity and as such should be preserved in a permanent and appropriate manner for the future generations, including their story and meaning.
Secondly, as residential and local experiences, it should a road-map to the future and a basis for guidance and leadership that is tied to the pure root and essence of the city that is filled with practical knowledge gained over the ages and is glancing at a prosperous horizon.
Thirdly, analysis of this route to visualize the world’s urban future is a key consideration.
The depth and scope of the job is so difficult to grasp that the beginning of this endless journey is its accomplishment.
By putting the subject of housing in its agenda, WAIC aims to encourage discussion and dialogue to evaluate the existing housing policies and induce innovation in accommodation among towns and cities across central and western Asia region, subsequently determining the areas of focus for taking action based on the acquired data and member priorities.
Understanding the current status of housing in Islamic cities is the focus of this international conference. Since a correct assessment of the existing conditions require the rediscovery of the past, the history of housing conditions should be noted and its dimensions should be established. This conference, though dealing with the architectural structures and housing typology of Islamic cities in the past and present, it will also tackle the varied and complex aspects of housing. In other words, the conference strives to demonstrate the hidden aspects and principles of housing before experts, officials and planners. The conference has an applied mood and efforts will be made that operational projects from professional companies are introduced, their feasibility is assessed, and their implementation process is facilitated.
Therefore, the conference environment is quite different from a purely scientific one, though the goal of the programme is to pro- vide an update on the status of the housing production in Islamic cities.
The conference audience is divided into the following categories:
Deputy Housing/Urban planning Minsters, representatives of local/national governments in Islamic Countries
Mayors of capitals, metropolitans, historical cities, and tourist destinations in Islamic countries
Executives of Banking and financial institutions
Manufacturers and builders in Housing industry
WORLD ASSEMBLY OF ISLAMIC CITIES (WAIC)
Towards a Prosperous Urban Future For All
World Assembly of Islamic Cities 2016© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED