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Housing sector in Eurasia needs a mind shift and greater cooperation for effective solutions

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To solve housing problems in the region, practical as well as strategic actions are needed with more emphasis on education and awareness among citizens about their rights and responsibilities in relation to shelter, property and housing

Geneva, Switzerland (April 24, 2013) – Raquel Rolnik, UN Special Rapporteur for Adequate Housing, said in a video message to the delegates of the second Housing Forum for Europe & Central Asia a paradigm shift is needed from the belief that the market can solve all housing problems. She emphasized as the ongoing crisis since 2008 demonstrates, we need to redefine the responsibility of states in providing social services, including housing.

A market approach is necessary to develop housing microfinance and residential energy efficiency, among many other things, but state intervention for vulnerable groups, like the Roma, elderly, low-income, mentally and physically challenged, or refugees, cannot be overlooked. At the same time, international organizations and NGOs should shift from direct services toward shaping market solutions and policies.

These are some of the outcomes of the second Housing Forum Europe & Central Asia, which concluded on April 24, 2013, in Geneva, Switzerland. The debates and discussions touched on important thematic areas such as housing inclusiveness and equal access to adequate standards of living in cities, including the right to adequate housing.

Among the voiced recommendations were calls to increase the supply of rental housing through new models, address the problem of management and deterioration of privatized multi-household housing, work with the Roma on empowerment and legalization of informal settlements, as well as involve more stakeholders in the planning and implementation of housing projects.

The three-day gathering brought together 147 delegates and 71 organizations: UN agencies, international NGOs, Red Cross and Red Crescent, academia, financing institutions, housing experts, real estate business and donors from 38 countries.

The Forum is organized by five international organizations – Habitat for Humanity International, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT). UN-HABITAT is supporting the Housing Forum for the first time in this region as part of the regional implementation of its Global Housing Strategy.

Organizing partners will start the groundwork for the third Housing Forum for this region in 2015.

About Habitat for Humanity International
Habitat for Humanity International is a Christian nonprofit organization dedicated to the cause of eliminating poverty housing. Since its founding in 1976, Habitat has built and renovated more than 600,000 homes worldwide, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than 3 million people. For more information, visit www.habitateurope.org.

About International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest humanitarian organization. It works to support and develop the capacities of its member National Societies around the world in their humanitarian mission to assist the most vulnerable members of society, without discrimination as to nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political opinions. The IFRC’s work focuses on four core areas: promoting humanitarian values, disaster response, disaster preparedness, and health and community care. For more information, visit www.ifrc.org.

About UNDP
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is the UN’s global development network, an organization advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. UNDP in Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States is on the ground in 28 countries and territories in Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. For more information, visit www.undp.org.

About UNECE
The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) is one of five regional commissions of the United Nations. It was established in 1947 by the UN Economic and Social Council. The overall mandate of the UNECE is to facilitate greater economic integration and cooperation among its fifty-six Member States and promote sustainable development and economic prosperity. For more information, visit www.unece.org.

About UN-HABITAT
The United Nations Human Settlements Programme, UN-HABITAT, is the United Nations agency for human settlements. It is mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all. UN-HABITAT programmes are designed to help policy-makers and local communities to get to grips with the human settlements and urban issues and find workable, lasting solutions. For more information, visit www.unhabitat.org.