Developing national shelter strategies

Adopting national shelter strategies
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 1996, just prior to the Habitat II conference, the progress in formulating and implementing national housing strategies over the 20 years since the first Habitat conference was summarized by the UN Centre for Human Settlements as follows: (1) Objectives: National housing strategies have made good progress applying the principles and objectives of the enabling approach, particularly after the adoption of the [Global Strategy for Shelter to the year 2000] (GSS). The gaps between policy and implementation, however, still exist in many cases and have a tendency to widen. (2) Re-organization of the housing sector: Most national strategies make explicit reference to the roles and responsibilities of public, private and third (non-governmental or community-based organization) sectors in the housing process; and to the role of government in creating and maintaining an enabling environment within which people and private enterprise can build their own housing. (3) Mobilization and distribution of financial resource: Reforms in housing finance, infrastructural investment and cost-recovery, property taxation and other fiscal measures receive high priority in all national strategies. implementation of relevant measures has, however, often been disappointing. (4) Production of housing and management of land, infrastructure and the construction industry: National strategies formulated or revised, particularly after the GSS, mark a major break with the past in scaling down the public-sector role in housing production. These strategies mostly focus on promoting incentives to private- and third-sector production within a framework intended to guard against speculation and ensure access among the poor.

A more detailed analysis on the supply side of the housing sector underlines the contribution of liberalizing and deregulating land and housing markets, providing incentives to private-sector construction activity, and encouraging public/private partnerships. But experience shows that such measures must be undertaken within the framework of strong government action (and capacity to intervene in markets) so that supply constraints are dealt with on a more consistent and vigorous basis than is the case if markets and private-sector interests are simply 'left to themselves'.

On the demand side, provision of security of tenure has increasingly been recognized as the fundamental element to increase investment in the housing sector, particularly in mobilizing the savings and capacity of the poor to improve their housing. Improvements in demand management since 1976 have not been very promising. Formal housing-finance systems continue to exclude those on low and unstable incomes, though there are some encouraging experiments which show that poor people can be effective customers of commercial banks and building societies. Informal systems continue to serve the urban poor, but often at too small a scale, and/or at relatively higher costs. Linking informal and formal systems together (as when a savings-and-credit group opens an account in a commercial bank), seems to offer a way forward in achieving scale, sustainability and access simultaneously. The most important constraint on the demand for housing -- pervasive urban poverty -- continues to hamper progress in obvious ways, though more attention is now being paid to urban poverty alleviation by governments, NGOs and donors. Labour-intensive growth, investment in human capital and provision of social safety nets seem to be the fundamental elements of a general approach which would contribute to the improvement of housing conditions.

1. All countries should support and develop environmentally compatible shelter strategies at national, state/provincial, and municipal levels through partnership among the private, public, and community sectors and with the support of community-based organizations. 2. All countries should adopt and/or strengthen national shelter strategies with targets as appropriate based on the principles and recommendations contained in the Global Strategy for Shelter to the Year 2000. 3. People should be protected by law against unfair eviction from their homes or land.
Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 1: No PovertyGOAL 2: Zero HungerGOAL 3: Good Health and Well-beingGOAL 4: Quality EducationGOAL 5: Gender EqualityGOAL 6: Clean Water and SanitationGOAL 7: Affordable and Clean EnergyGOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic GrowthGOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and InfrastructureGOAL 10: Reduced InequalityGOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and CommunitiesGOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and ProductionGOAL 13: Climate ActionGOAL 14: Life Below WaterGOAL 15: Life on LandGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong InstitutionsGOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal