Abstract One year and a half after the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) held in Istanbul, the present document aims to assess the progress made on the implementation of the Regional Plan of Action on Human Settlements for Latin America and the Caribbean. The region faces a disturbing upsurge in urban poverty and widening income inequality, notwithstanding the slower rate of population growth. A worsening of environmental problems such as air and water pollution, waste disposal and vehicle congestion is being experienced in urban centres, and the region still has both quantitative and qualitative housing shortages, despite efforts made by governments. The registered trend of reduced availability of public resources will continue in the future. The countries are implementing innovative changes in their systems to provide housing, urban services and infrastructure. The processes of decentralization and privatization opened up new spaces in the task of managing human settlements, such as the strengthening of municipal government and new integrated approaches involving participation of citizens and the private sector. The importance of environmental issues suggests that the efficiency in the management of human settlements will depend on the ability to embrace and complement the different aspects and levels that make up the real life of cities. As early as 1992, the region, aware of these problems, initiated a dialogue on human settlements, which has since then been formalized in annual meetings of ministers and high-level authorities of the housing and urban development sector of Latin America and the Caribbean (MINURVI), and has been focused on attaining the sustainable development of human settlements and participating actively in achieving the goals set forth in Habitat II.