This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities.
In the lead-up to the Habitat II conference (1996) UNCHS reported that a number of studies had been carried out to review progress in the implementation of national shelter programmes. Generally speaking, these appraisals conclude that an important start has been made with setting up enabling strategies, but that progress with implementation varies widely between countries. Similar to other development sectors, comprehensive and sound policies remain 'on paper', owing largely to the very slow pace of needed reorganization of administrative procedures and effective management of human, financial and land resources. Most strategies still lacked detailed plans of action, timetables, provisions for resource mobilization and indicators for monitoring and evaluation. They are closer to policy statements than to implementation strategies. Weakness in implementation of good policies particularly affects the question of scale. UNCHS concluded that without vigorous pursuit of the enabling approach to shelter policies, and without the rigorous targeting of subsidies to the people in greatest need, government policies and programmes remain ineffective in achieving the required impacts, particularly as regards shelter for the poor and disadvantaged. Beyond this, the macroeconomic policies currently pursued by a number of countries constrain public and private investment in housing and related infrastructure.
All countries should appropriately document and monitor the implementation of their national shelter strategies by using, inter alia, the monitoring guidelines adopted by the UN Commission on Human Settlements and the shelter performance indicators being produced jointly by the UN Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat) and the World Bank.