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This term, in its original Latin, derives from the verb "it inhabits,” 3rd singular present indicative of habitāre, frequentative of habēre, meaning to have, or to hold. Habitat is the natural environment of any organism, the place that is natural for the sustainable life and growth of an organism and a place where a living thing lives and can find food, shelter, protection and mates for reproduction. It also has come to mean the place where a person or thing is usually found.

In the context of development, planning and governance, the Habitat II Agenda defines habitat as a "regional and cross-sectoral approach to human settlements [that] places emphasis on rural/urban linkages and treats villages and cities as two ends [points] of a human settlements continuum in a common ecosystem” (para. 104).

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