Madrid, 16 May 2016 – UN-Habitat, with the support from the Barcelona City Council, the Andalusian Agency for International Cooperation (AACID) and the Spanish Ministry of Development, last week held the global Experts Group Meeting (EGM) on "Financing National Housing Policies and Programmes: Lessons for the Developing World” In his opening statement, Mr. Christophe Lalande, the Housing Unit Leader, UN-Habitat said : finance is an integral part of housing policies. Housing is one of the most daunting challenges with urbanization and the expansion of urban poverty. Access to adequate to housing is significant in terms of homelessness, access to basic services, overcrowding and migration. Six out of ten people will reside in cities 15 years from now, with 90% of this growth in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.”
The meeting focused on assessing conditions and developing successful approaches for the way forward in the developing world to overcome financing challenges to housing policy implementation and programme challenges related to the provision of affordable housing. In particular, the EGM offered the opportunity to exchange experiences and redefine the role of national and local private and public financing to enhance and rebuild the capacity and sustainability in the provision of adequate housing for all, especially the poor and most vulnerable. “Only 20% of households have access to affordable housing finance. We must address stakeholder engagement on adequate housing and make markets work better for the poor in increasing access to affordable housing to end poverty,” said Jane Katz, Director of International Affairs and Programs at Habitat for Humanity International (USA).
The 40 experts from six continents across the world met to discuss and exchange best practices and achieve consensus for the way forward on financing for housing policies and programmes. The EGM focused on strategic approaches in the optimization of and non-taxation revenues as well as sustainable approaches to debt issuance through housing bonds as well as public-private partnerships to promote access to affordable housing at national and local levels of government. . “The government must be involved in financing housing policies and there must be adequate incentives and disincentives to ensure housing is accessible and sustainable, ” said Mr. Robert Buckley, Senior fellow at New York University, The New School. The EGM comes at a fortuitous time with the towards the upcoming Habitat III Conference and the resulting development of the New Urban Agenda.
Through the EGM and UN-Habtat’s “Housing at the Centre” approach The “Housing at the Centre” approach, places housing at the centre of national and local urban agendas and furthermore, shifting the focus from simply building houses towards a holistic framework for housing development accompanied by sound urban planning practice and by placing people and human rights at the forefront of urban sustainable development., the financing of housing policies and programmes is a critical component to the future of sustainable urbanization. The knowledge captured through this EGM is expected to contribute to the progressive realization of the adequate housing for all, including persons living in poverty and in vulnerable situations.