Nairobi, 1 December 2021 – More than one hundred participants from more than two dozen countries exchanged ideas and experiences on global shelter and settlements response and challenges which can benefit millions of residents in their respective countries.
Among the multi-dimensional subjects discussed were material, construction, repair, and architecture focus, as well as country-wide programming.
The two virtual information sharing sessions -- Global Shelter Cluster’s Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and Africa Shelter and Settlements – were co-organised by UN-Habitat and a number of regional and international partners in November and October, respectively.
Three-quarters of the infrastructure that will exist in 2050 has yet to be built. Building materials and construction sector accounts for 11 per cent of annual carbon dioxide emissions. UN-Habitat has been on the forefront of promoting green and less carbon-consuming constructions material all over the world.
In Zambia, for example, the agency has been supporting government effort to resettle and integrate former refugees in the northwest and western part of the country. In those areas, UN-Habitat has assisted in the opening up of access roads and construction of low-cost demonstration houses using green technology in Meheba and Mayukwayukwa Refugee settlements.
A recent joint report by UN-Habitat and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Global Environment Outlook for Cities report: Towards Green and Just Cities, calls for urgent action to achieve net-zero circular cities that are resilient, sustainable, inclusive, and just.
The Shelter and Settlements Forums have over the years supported the creation of opportunities for sharing best practices, learning and dialogue within the different regions towards improving shelter and settlement responses. Previous forums have supported discussions which included shifting towards more sustainable approaches in shelter programing, and the integration of durable solutions in urban settlements.
UN-Habitat has been a participant and more recently a co-organizer in these regional forums. As custodians of SDG 11 to Make Cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable, UN-Habitat has championed efforts by local practitioners to adopt sustainable practices in shelter and settlement programming.
Through a series of tools and normative outputs such as guidelines, handbooks, and evaluative standards, the organisation has also promoted methodologies that support programming in urban areas which are seeing increasing influx from refugees and internally displaced people globally.
One tool is the Settlement Profiling Tool, published in 2020, that can be used to guide field personnel to create cross-sectoral analysis which can inform urban development planning in displacement contexts.
In the same year, the team also published the urban planning in post-crisis contexts guidelines which recommends 10 planning strategies to support these responses.
Each of the two-day forums was divided into three focus areas: sharing learnings from shelter and settlements programming in the specific region; spotlight on global and regional shelter and settlement initiatives; and networking and discussions.
On the second day of each forum, participants went into parallel breakout groups to further discuss themes of Greening Shelter and Settlements Programming; Local Response and Leadership; and Urban Displacement and Durable Solutions to name a few.
Jia Cong Ang, UN-Habitat Programme Management Officer facilitated the breakout group sessions in the Africa Forum and said, “UN-Habitat is delighted to support this endeavor and to promote solutions that bridge more temporary and long-term solutions.”
Grace Lubaale, Programme Management Officer from the UN-Habitat Somalia Programme, who led the breakout group on urban systems and durable solutions highlighted the importance of “urban shelter and settlements interventions that look to ensure sustainable development trajectories are integrated into responses from the beginning.”
Chiara Jasna, the Global Shelter and Settlements lead from the Democratic Republic of Congo, wrapped up the Africa forum by saying, “We hope you managed to connect with new participants, and to thank you for being a part of these two inspiring days. We would like to thank all the organizers who worked to prepare the event and hope that next year we can organize an in-person event and see everyone in person.”
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