I am especially pleased that tonight’s event is highlighting disaster recovery efforts in Haiti, and the importance of urban planning and sustainable development.
Along with food and water, shelter is after all one of the basic necessities of life. And it’s more than a safe place to sleep, it’s a launching pad for a better future. It’s something that many of us take for granted. And yet, 1.6 billion people around the world struggle to find adequate shelter every day – and increasingly those people are in our cities.
As the world’s urban centers have expanded, poor planning and development have too often resulted in unsustainable sprawl and slums. Nowhere was this more evident than in the devastating aftermath of Haiti’s earthquake. But in the darkest hours after that destruction, Habitat for Humanity was there with a commitment to rebuild for 50,000 Haitian families over five years. Because of this effort, countless individuals will have a chance to live healthy, productive lives.
Sustainable urbanization and development are long-term challenges that cannot be met by one country or one organization alone. That’s why the United States is committed to working with partners like Habitat for Humanity and UN agencies, so that someday every man, woman and child will have a decent place to live and the opportunity fulfill his or her God-given potential.
Congratulations to all of tonight’s honorees for your extraordinary leadership and your powerful example. Thank you all very much.