Series ENV - Division for Human Settlements and the Socio-Cultural Environment files

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Division for Human Settlements and the Socio-Cultural Environment files


  • 1978-1989 (Creation)

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0.39 linear metres of textual records

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(1975-11-01 - 1985-07-26)

Administrative history

The Draft Budget for 1975-1976 (18 C/5) introduced UNESCO’s role in examining the definition of quality of life, or the “real inner landscapes of man, those conditions of his life (socio-cultural, ideological, spiritual) within which he feels that his life is, or is not, worth living” (UNESCO, 18 C/5, para. 3367). The Programme on ‘Man and his Environment’ was to be a counter-part to environmental programmes introduced to address the “outer landscapes.” The aim in the medium-term would be to address the environment in its widest sense at UNESCO as part of inter-sectoral programme. However, since activities on the physical environment were well developed in the Natural Sciences Sector, the idea in 1975 was to begin with an inter-departmental programme in the Sector for Social Sciences, Humanities and Culture. Thus a small coordinating unit, Man in his environment - human settlements, was created within the new Division of Human Rights and Peace. The unit was to coordinate joint activities of the Departments of Social Sciences, Cultural Activities and Cultural Heritage. It was also responsible for: liaising with other organizations interested in the same ends; ensuring the participation of UNESCO in the preparation of the 1976 United Nations Conference-Exposition on Human Settlements; encouraging the activities of Member States to carry out projects of their own, individually or jointly, consonant with the objectives of the programme; and providing the secretariat for the inter-sectoral committee addressing the interconnections between the programme and the Man and the Biosphere programme, as well as other ecological activities of the Natural Sciences Sector, and relevant activities in education and communication.

From 1975 to 1976, the Secretariat as a whole was reorganized, and the Sector for Social Sciences, Humanities and Culture was dissolved and in its place a Sector for Social Sciences and their Applications and a Sector for Culture and Communication were created. The coordinating unit became the Division for Human Settlements and the Socio-Cultural Environment (SS/ENV). The original idea of a coordinating role remained with regard to collaboration with the physical environment programmes. However, the cultural aspect of the Man and his Environment programme shifted away from collaboration with tangible heritage programming and towards activities for raising public awareness of the problems of the rural and urban world, as well as to training activities for engineers, urban planners, and architects. Beyond coordination within UNESCO, the Division worked with UNEP, the International Union of Architects, as well as the UN body that became UN-Habitat in 1977. The Medium-Term Plan for 1977-1982 confirmed ‘Man and his Environment’ as one of ten world problems which UNESCO would seek to address through its work.

The Second Medium-Term Plan, approved at the 4th Extraordinary Session of the General Conference in 1982, identified “The Human Environment and Terrestrial and Marine Resources” as a Major Programme for UNESCO for 1984-1989. This Major Programme emphasized the inter-sectoral approach in the environmental programming. There were some changes to the structure of the Organization during this time, beginning in 1984 with the sector’s name change to the Sector of Social and Human Sciences. The Division for Human Settlements and the Socio-Cultural Environment (SHS/ENV) was dissolved in 1985. Some of its former activities were transferred at this time to the Division of Study and Planning of Development (DEV/EPD) in the newly created Bureau of Studies, Action and Coordination for Development. The 1986-1987 Programme and Budget moved other responsibilities under the Major Programme to the Division of Economic and Social Sciences. In the 1988-1989 Programme and Budget, responsibility was reassigned to the newly created Division of Population and Human Settlements (SHS/POP). The Third Medium-Term Plan, 1990-1995, addressed environmental programming and the “inner landscapes” in multiple Major Programmes. Following a restructuring of the Secretariat in 1990, responsibilities for the activities of the former Major Programme were redistributed between SHS/POP, a new Division for Education for Quality of Life (ED/QAL) and the Bureau for Co-ordination of Environment Programmes (SC/ENV). Socio-cultural environmental activities were also woven into activities for the World Decade for Cultural Development.

A new Division for Population, Human Settlements and Development Studies (SHS/PHD) was created in 1993 and existed until 1994 when the Social and Human Sciences Sector as a whole was reorganized. PHD’s activities were then partly inherited by the Human Habitat Unit (SHS/SRP/HH) in the new Division of Social Science, Research and Policy. That year a transdisciplinary project on “environmental and population education and information for development” was also launched. In the Approved Budget and Programme for 1996 and 1997, the transdisciplinary project existed as a separate unit (EPD) reporting directly to the Office of the Director-General. The following biennium the Project was renamed Educating for a Sustainable Future (environment, population, development). The Human Habitat Unit was also renamed the Cities and Human Habitat Unit in 1998. In the Approved Programme and Budget for 2000-2001, EPD was moved to the Education Sector and became the Division for Educating for a Sustainable Future (ED/EPD). However, this move was soon revised in July 2000 when the Secretariat as a whole was restructured. Social science activities on the human environment from this point have fallen under the umbrella of sustainable development programming and capacity-building for social science research in general.

Programme Specialist Georges Fradier was head of the Man in his environment - human settlements coordinating unit from 1975 to 1976. Salvino Busuttil was appointed Director of the Division for Human Settlements and the Socio-Cultural Environment in 1977 and served in this capacity until the Division was dissolved in 1986. As acting Director of the Population Division, Raul Urzua continued as Director of the new Division of Population and Human Settlements when the two units merged in 1988 and served as Director of the Division and from 1989 as Coordinator of Population Programmes until 1993. Wolfgang Tochtermann was Director of the Division for Population, Human Settlements and Development Studies from 1993 until it was dissolved in 1994.


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Series consists of files transferred directly from the Division for Human Settlements and the Socio-Cultural Environment (SHS/ENV) and its successor the Division of Population and Human Settlements (SHS/POP). Files cover programme activities on rural and urban habitat, reconstruction, quality of life and human ecology. Activities include missions, training programmes and division contributions to conferences such as the 1982 World Conference on Cultural Policies (Mondiacult). Files contain general correspondence, internal memoranda and final documents. They are in no particular order.

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Files are open after 20 years according to the Access Rules.

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For complimentary records in the Central Registry collection, see files beginning with the following broad Universal Decimal Classification System codes:
-301.86 Human Settlements
-711 Urbanization
-72 Architecture

See also: Habitat Conferences Digital Archive
University of British Columbia, School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP)

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