Despite more people than ever living in cities and another 2.5 billion expected to be added by 2050, too many residents lack access to basic services. Meanwhile, climate impacts increase every year. Between 350 million and 410 million people living in cities are expected to experience the effects of severe drought, for example.  

Action is most urgently needed where urban slums and informal settlements house the majority of the population. These neighborhoods are often home to the most vulnerable populations, where the gaps in access to decent, secure housing and urban services are most acute, and where an increasing number of climate migrants arrive every day in search of relief and opportunity. In Dhaka, for example, 2,000 new residents arrive every day, most driven by natural disasters and climate change, according to the city’s mayor. Overall, one in three city dwellers worldwide – over 1.2 billion people – do not have reliable, safe or affordable access to everyday services and infrastructure like decent housing, running water and sanitation, electricity or transport to work and school.

Research from WRI and others shows ending inequities in access to housing and basic services in cities is critical to meeting climate and development goals. The World Resources Report: Towards a More Equal City outlines the importance of ending the large and growing “urban services divide” in cities and the multi-sectoral benefits to doing so, including for climate. Housing is an entry point that has the most direct impact on people’s lives and livelihoods, the ability to pull along other core services, and can serve as the foundation for policies, programs and peer learning across cities and countries. Investing in making cities more equitable is crucial for people, nature and the climate.  

Together, REHOUSE partners have established a three-track program to work on global engagement on data and financing; influencing national policies and programs; and implementing on-the-ground actions based on analytical, grassroots lessons drawn from the partners’ work. REHOUSE partners currently include WRI, BRAC, Slum Dwellers International, Mahila Housing Trust and Habitat for Humanity International. REHOUSE is supported in part by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

The REHOUSE partners have drafted eight Shared Principles designed to guide urban decision-makers and stakeholders in advancing the climate and Sustainable Development Goal agendas with an emphasis on the intersection of equity and resilience through housing and basic services.  

WRI and the REHOUSE partners are dedicated to leading by example and advocating for the adoption of the Shared Principles through their practice. These principles are intended to be the foundation for policies, programs and peer learning across cities and countries.  

For more information about the principles and how to get involved, visit

Photo used with permission courtesy of Slum Dwellers International.