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Housing at the core of the New Urban Agenda Zero Draft

Encouraging development as the final countdown to Habitat III starts

Brussels, 12 May 2016 | Published in Urban

The Habitat III zero draft has been submitted on 6 May 2016 by the Bureau of the Preparatory Committee. Housing is at the core of the document reflecting the position of Housing Europe, as expressed during the European Habitat meeting in Prague, that "housing needs to be back on the political agenda".

The draft that will be discussed at the upcoming session of the informal intergovernmental negotiations and informal hearings with local authorities associations and civil society organizations in May, June, and July 2016 has been prepared on the basis of inputs from broad regional and thematic consultations, as well as the policy recommendations elaborated by the policy units and comments thereon received by participating states and all stakeholders.

We have prepared a summary of the key points that underline the importance of affordable and decent housing within the New Urban Agenda:

"Three principles/transformative commitments of the Agenda:

1) Leave no one behind (ensure urban equity and eradicate poverty),

2) Achieve sustainable and inclusive urban prosperity and opportunities for all,

3) Foster ecological and resilient cities and human settlements

Three drivers to realize the commitments:

  • A renewed local-national partnership, Effective decentralization, based on the principles of subsidiarity and the recognition of local-self-governance
  • Strategic and integrated urban and territorial planning and management
  • An innovative and effective financing framework and other means of implementation, enabling strengthened municipal finance and local fiscal systems

Under the first commitment (leave no one behind), we can find the housing relevant parts:

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-Equitable access to physical and social infrastructure: we must ensure equitable and affordable access to basic physical and social infrastructure for all, including affordable serviced land, housing, energy, water and sanitation, waste disposal, mobility, health, education, and information and communication technologies.

Adequate housing and shelter is at the center of the New Urban Agenda: We call for housing to be elevated as one of the highest priorities for national governments, and we reaffirm the right to adequate housing for all as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living without discrimination of any kind.

Developing housing programs and their spatial relationship with the rest of the urban fabric impacts not only social inclusion, but also the economic well-being of the inhabitants

Housing policies should promote equity

Developing integrated housing approaches that incorporates the provision of adequate, affordable, safe, and well-located housing, with access to quality public space, basic infrastructure, and services like sanitation systems and public transport, as well as livelihood opportunities, combating segregation

Promote national and local housing policies that stimulate the delivery of a variety of housing options at scale and diversified in size, standard, location and price to meet the needs of the population

Promote increased security of tenure, recognizing the plurality of tenure types

Need to acknowledge and support the service provision of local governments and to generate investments in communities

Need to provide adequate services, accommodation, and opportunities for decent and productive work for crisis-affected persons in urban setting

- Public spaces as an enabler of the socio-economic function of the city

The accessibility of public space and its inherent communal character needs to be guaranteed and its privatization avoided

Public spaces should be designed and managed to ensure human development, building peaceful and democratic societies and promoting cultural diversity

Public spaces should be free-of-charge and free from physical, legal and architectural barriers that discourage the presence of people who are in vulnerable situations

Establishing the local framework: local governments should be empowered to implement spatial development strategies based on coherent urban planning principles, and the implementing actions required by national and local governments should be integrated with stakeholders’ participation as well as new partnership arrangements.

Planning and managing the urban spatial development

The New Urban Agenda aims to implement integrated urban spatial development strategies supporting the realization of compact, integrated cities (ex. International Guidelines on Urban and Territorial Planning, adopted by the Governing Council of UNHabitat at its 25th session in April 2015)

Land (page 14)

  • We will enhance the public supply of affordable land for housing, including land in the center and consolidated areas of cities, and encourage mixed-income development to offset segregation, to secure land tenure in informal settlements, and to introduce efficient legal and technical systems to capture part of the land value increment accruing from public investment.
  • We will promote compliance with legal requirements through strong land management institutions that deal with land registration and governance, implementing a transparent and efficient land use, property registration, and sound financial system

Housing (page 15)

  • The provision of affordable housing at scale remains a key challenge to most countriesAccess to adequate and affordable housing is needed to reduce the vast numbers of households living in inadequate housing in slums and informal settlements. We will develop national housing policies based on participatory planning and the principles of social inclusion and participation, economic effectiveness, environmental protection, and cultural adequacy.
  • We will include data disaggregation to allow a differentiated analysis of housing supply and demand considering the specific social, economic, and cultural dynamics on subnational levels. This will inform the implementation of housing and urban development programs, with housing at the centre of the strategy. We encourage applying the principle of subsidiarity in the implementation through subnational and decentralized structures in order to ensure the coherence between national and local urban development strategies, land policies, and housing supply.
  • We will consider policies that promote a wide range of alternative housing options, considering shifting from a predominantly private ownership to other rental and tenure options, including cooperatives solutions such as co-housing and community land trust, in order to improve the supply of affordable housing, as well as to adopt policies that support incremental housing and slum/informal settlements upgrading programs.
  • We will promote regulations within the housing sector, including building codes, standards, development permits, land use by-laws and ordinances, and planning regulations, ensuring quality and habitability. Planning initiatives should avoid peripheral and isolated mass housing schemes detached from the urban system."