Tehran, 7 December 2016 - UN-Habitat and the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Tehran and Iran’s Ministry of Roads and Urban Development, held a joint workshop on “Housing Finance & Construction Technology: Challenges and the Way Forward” at IRIB International Conference Center.

This workshop was sponsored by the Embassy of Korea and Korean Contractors’ Association in Iran. The morning session focused on housing finance, and in the afternoon session, the subject of construction technologies and new towns were discussed.

Experts from several governmental, non-governmental and private sector institutions such as Ministry of Roads and Urban Development, Building and Housing Research Centre (BHRC), the Housing Bank, National Land & Housing Organisation, Urban Development & Revitalisation Organisation, New Town Development Corporation, the Housing Foundation, Tehran Municipality, Tehran City Council, Chamber of Commerce, Construction Engineering Organisation, Iranian Society of Consulting Engineers, Beheshti and Tehran Universities, and Korean companies as well as experts from UN-Habitat Headquarters and Korean  Land and Housing Institute participated in the workshop to discuss various topics focused on issues and concerns on Iranian housing sector.

At the opening ceremony Siamak Moghaddam, Acting Chief of Tehran Office, Mohammad Shekarchizadeh, Head of BHRC and Seungho Kim, Korean Ambassador to Tehran addressed the audience. Moghaddam noted the importance of housing in Iran, who recognized the housing right in its constitution, and acknowledged that housing for low income families had always been a critical issue for the Government.  He added that at the international level,  housing stood at the centre of the “New Urban Agenda” as well as the Sustainable Development Goals.

Housing at the centre

Seongho Kim and Shekarchizadeh briefly addressed housing issues both in Korea and Iran, stating that the session provided an opportunity for exchanging experience of the two countries. Ambassador Kim referred to the difficult housing experience of Korea and hoped that Iran could benefit from the lessons learnt from the Korean housing sector.

Speakers at the event included:

  • Juan Luis Arango, UN-Habitat consultant in Urban Economy Branch
  • Seongho Kim, UN-Habitat Senior Advisor in Urban Planning & Design branch [no relation to the Ambassador]
  • Hamid Erfanian as an architectural technologist and member of Architectural Institute of British Columbia
  • Ghazal Raheb, faculty member of Iran’s Road, Housing & Urban Development Research Center (BHRC)
  • Fardin Yazdani, Economic Systems Planner; Researcher, Housing Economics & Planning
  • Seungyeoun CHO, Urban Engineer; Research Fellow, Land & Housing Institute, Korea Republic
  • Youngtae CHO, Research Fellow, Land & Housing Institute, Korea Republic
  • Abolghasem Rahimi Anaraki, Banking & Financial Services Manager; Board of Directors Member, Iran Housing Bank

The experts emphasized high land prices and their major share in the construction cost, lack of appropriate and efficient land data base and management system, and practical problems with housing loans as some of the main challenges in the housing sector in Iran, as well as the urgent need for a comprehensive and holistic approach towards the housing issue.

Enabling authorities to control price pressure

The minor share of innovative construction technologies in housing price in Iran was also mentioned as one of the main loopholes in current construction trends besides the necessity to improve and reform land laws to allow addition and offering new pieces of lands in urban areas; offering preferential prices could enable government and local authorities to control demand and price pressure more effectively.

In addition, it was mentioned that provision of regulatory framework by government is critical to use construction technology as a tool for sustainable development with equal attention to utilization of sophisticated software technology as well as hardware ones.

Access to proper shelter as one of the basic human rights as apparently and fundamentally embedded in the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran was another core topic that led to emphasis on some primary issues to be addressed: setting affordable housing prices for low and middle income people and lack of alternative rental social housing and mechanism for rent subsides. In this regard, experts pointed to excessive unsold luxury units occupying a vast area of Tehran as a stumbling block in the way of building affordable residential complexes for middle and lower class residents of Tehran.

After the initial presentations by the invited speakers in each session, professional group discussion on housing finance and construction technologies followed and several good suggestions were made as the way forward.  The summary of the workshop discussions and recommendations are now being prepared for electronic publication in the near future.