Built Environment

Dignity by Design - Human Rights and the Built Environment Lifecycle

Report, 01 July 2019

By Annabel Short, Consultant, IHRB; Founder, Rights Here project

The built environment – the places where we live, work, and interact with others – has a defining influence over our ability to lead healthy, fulfilling lives. By 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in urban areas. Decisions about what and how we build will define our ability to respond to global challenges like inequality, mass-migration, and climate change.


This report is a call to action to advance dignity and human rights throughout the built environment lifecycle: from land acquisition, planning and financing, through design, construction, management and use, to demolition and re-development. 

Siloed, disconnected approaches will fail to address root problems or lead to long-term solutions. The report provides a platform for a collaborative rights-based approach towards just, sustainable built environments, with locally-defined needs at the forefront.

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The report sets out the issues involved. These include forced evictions and the growing affordability crises facing many cities, the treatment of migrant workers through construction supply chains, and the way in which architects’ decisions can either advance or undermine inclusion. It also highlights the many steps that are already underway to advance human rights in the built environment.

The report also references a set of draft “Principles for Dignity in the Built Environment” for further consultation and implementation, and recommendations to the governmental and private sector actors involved throughout the lifecycle.

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