Committed to Sustainable Cities and Human Settlements for All

In Special Consultative Status with ECOSOC

Global Forum on Human Settlements (GFHS)

As a global non-profit organization recognized by the United Nations system, the Global Forum on Human Settlements (GFHS) is in the Special Consultative Status with ECOSOC, and is committed to providing a world platform for high-level dialogue and promoting sustainable cities and human settlements for all. Legally chartered in the State of New York, USA, GFHS enjoys the 501(C) (3) tax exemption qualification. Former Under-Secretary-General and High Representative of the UN Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury serves as the Chairman of GFHS.

The main work of GFHS includes: convening the annual global forum on human settlements and other academic conferences; promoting the implementation of the "2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development", "New Urban Agenda" and "Paris Climate Agreement"; facilitating exchanges and cooperation between and within regions, governments and civil societies in the area of sustainable cities and human settlements; researching and developing International Green Model City (IGMC) Initiative and Standards; issuing the Sustainable Cities and Human Settlements Awards (SCAHSA); and producing sustainability publications, notably the World Best Practices Magazine (WBPM) and The Collection of Global Forum on Human Settlements.

Over the years, GFHS has accomplished a number of cooperation projects with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations Environment Programme, United Nations Human Settlements Programme, United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Economic and Social Council for Asia and the Pacific, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, International Telecommunication Union, the World Meteorological Organization, Asian Development Bank, World Wildlife Fund, International Union for Conservation of Nature, World Economic Forum, and other international organizations.  

The Annual Forum has become one of the most important conferences worldwide focusing on sustainable cities and human settlements. Since 2005, GFHS has been convening its annual forums at the United Nations headquarters and on five continents for 18 consecutive years. Among them, one annual session was held as an associated event of 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20 Summit) and another as a parallel event of 2016 United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III). The 18th Annual Session of Global Forum on Human Settlements (GFHS 2023) was successfully held at COP28 in Dubai on December 2-3, 2023, with the theme being “Green, Fair and Smart Urban Transformation: Synergistically Accelerating 1.5°C Goal and SDGs”. 20 leading organizations including relevant UN agencies joined as co-organizers and collaborators. A set of outcomes have been achieved at the Forum.

GFHS has been holding its annual forums at the United Nations and on five continents for 18 consecutive years. As of 2023, 323,000+ representatives from all sectors of society have attended the forums, including state leaders, ministers, ambassadors, UN officials, mayors, scholars, professionals, business leaders and representatives of NGOs. Some of the high-ranking officials and sustainability leaders are: Morris Strong, former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and the first Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme; Amb. Sha Zukang, former Under-Secretary-General for the United Nations Economic and Social Affairs and Secretary-General of the Rio+20 Summit; Gyan Acharya, former Under-Secretary-General and High Representative of the UN; Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, former UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary, Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific; Gu Xiulian, Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the 10th National People's Congress; Li Jinhua, Vice Chairman of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference; Rosalia Arteaga Serrano, Former President of Ecuador; Raila Odinga, Former Prime Minister of Kenya, High Representative for Infrastructure Development at the African Union Commission; Prof. Petteri Taalas, Secretary General, World Meteorological Organization (WMO); Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD); Malcolm Johnson, Deputy Secretary General of International Telecommunication Union (ITU); Dr. Bambang Susantono, Vice President for Knowledge Management & Sustainable Development, Asian Development Bank (ADB); ZHANG Xinsheng, President, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), among others.

The forum has successively issued a range of outcome documents including Shenzhen Declaration on Creating a Green Civilization and Building a Livable City; Wuxi Declaration on Water and Human Settlements in the 21st Century; New York Declaration on Building a Low-Carbon City and Addressing Climate Change; and Addis Ababa Declaration on Harnessing the Power of Digital Revolution for Urban Sustainability and Prosperity for All. In addition, the forum has rolled out a series of books, such as "Water and Human Settlements in the 21st Century" and 30+ issues of the World Best Practices Magazine (a Chinese-English bilingual global sustainability periodical). In December 2021, the large-scale academic literature – THE COLLECTION OF GLOBAL FORUM ON HUMAN SETTLEMENTS (Volume I & II, bilingual in Chinese and English) was published.

The “Sustainable Cities and Human Settlements Award (SCAHSA)” (formerly known as the "Global Human Settlements Award") is a worldwide prize annually awarded by GFHS. It is focused on promoting the implementation of UN sustainable development goals, particularly SDG 11, and recommending the outstanding progress and valuable experience of the winners in the process of moving towards a greener and more sustainable world, driving more people to follow suit and take decisive actions on the ground. With the support and guidance from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and related UN agencies, the Awards has been successfully held for 18 years, with awardees coming from different parts of the world. It has become one of the most important awards on sustainable development in the world and has produced a significant demonstration effect.

Through unremitting efforts over the past 18 years, GFHS has provided a global participatory platform for high-level dialogue among governments, non-governmental organizations, business, and academic community. It has made significant contribution to the cause of building sustainable cities and human settlements for all, as well as to the realization of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).        

Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury, Chairman of the Board

Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury recently completed his term as the United Nations Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States of the United Nations, the post he held since March 2002. A career diplomat, he was Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations in New York from 1996 to 2001. He also served as Bangladesh’s Ambassador to Chile, Nicaragua, Peru and Venezuela, as well as Bangladesh’s High Commissioner to the Bahamas and Guyana.

Mr. Chowdhury served as the Secretary-General of the Almaty International Conference on global transit transport cooperation in 2003 as well as of the Mauritius International Meeting on Small Island Developing States in 2005, both convened by the United Nations General Assembly. He also spearheaded the five-year mid-term review of the Brussels Programme for the Least Developed Countries by the UN General Assembly in September 2006 in New York.

Ambassador Chowdhury served as President of the United Nations Security Council for two terms in 2000 and 2001 and President of the UNICEF Executive Board in 2000. He also chaired the Administrative and Budgetary Committee of the United Nations General Assembly in 1997-1998. He was Vice-President of the Economic & Social Council of the United Nations for two terms in 1997 and 1998.

His initiative in March 2000 as the President of the Security Council led to the adoption of the groundbreaking UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on the role of women in peace and security.

He spearheaded a pioneering initiative at the United Nations on culture of peace which resulted in the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly in 1999 of the landmark “Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace”.

He also initiated the proclamation by the United Nations General Assembly of the “International Decade for Culture of Peace and Nonviolence for the Children of the World (2001-2010)”.

Ambassador Chowdhury is the recipient of the U Thant Peace Award and the UNESCO Gandhi Gold Medal for Culture of Peace. In March 2003, the Soka University of Tokyo, Japan, conferred on him an Honorary Doctorate for his work on women’s issues, child rights and culture of peace as well as for the strengthening of the United Nations. Ambassador Chowdhury has been decorated by the Government of Burkina Faso with the country’s highest honour “L’Ordre Nacionale” on 18 June 2007 in Ouagadougou for his championship of the cause of the most vulnerable countries.

He is the co-founder of GFHS which was officially established in New York in 2008. In his capacity as the Chairman of GFHS, he has been leading GFHS to continuous growth, and made outstanding contribution to sustainable cities and human settlements around the world.