The United Nations convened the Habitat: United Nations Conference on Human Settlements in Vancouver, Canada, from 31 May till 11 June 1976 as governments began to recognise the consequences of rapid urbanisation, especially in the developing world. That pioneering conference sprung from warnings about urbanisation at the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm convened to deal with the perceived threat to the environment by human activity.
At the time of the first Habitat conference in Vancouver in 1976, urbanization and its impacts were barely on the radar screen of a United Nations created just three decades earlier when two-thirds of humanity was still rural. But the world was starting to witness the greatest and fastest migration into cities and towns in history. In 1976, one-third of the world’s people lived in cities. Just 30 years later, this rose to one-half and will continue to grow to two-thirds, or 6 billion people, by 2050. Cities are now home to half of humankind.
On 16 December 1976 the General Assembly adopted resolution 31/109 which took note of the report of the conference, the Vancouver Declaration on Human Settlements. The resolution called upon all organizations within and outside the UN system to support national efforts in the formulation, design, implementation and evaluation of projects to improve human settlements.
Outcome of the Conference was the establishment of UN-HABITAT, the UN organization for human settlements. In 1996 a second conference was held, Habitat II, in Istanbul, Turkey.
The website of UN-Habitat, United Nations Human Settlement Programme.
Text of the Vancouver Declaration on Human Settlements.