Linkages home
UNECE Committee on Housing and Land Management Bulletin
Download PDF version
Back to IISD coverage
Volume 167 Number 2 - Friday, 24 September 2010
UNECE COMMITTEE ON HOUSING AND LAND MANAGEMENT BULLETIN 71ST SESSION OF THE UNECE COMMITTEE ON HOUSING AND LAND MANAGEMENT
20-21 SEPTEMBER 2010

The seventy-first session of the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Committee on Housing and Land Management (CHLM) convened in Geneva, Switzerland, from 20-21 September 2010. More than 60 participants attended the meeting, including country representatives as well as representatives from non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations, academia and the private sector.

During the two days, the CHLM discussed, inter alia: the work of the CHLM Bureau; the report of the Housing and Urban Management Advisory Network (HUMAN); implementation of the programme of work for 2010-2011; a proposal to start work on a UNECE policy Framework Convention on Affordable, Healthy and Ecological Housing; the draft Action Plan for Energy-efficient Housing in the UNECE Region; work on a report on “Climate Neutral Cities”; and plans for a November 2010 seminar on land-use planning around hazardous industrial sites to be held jointly with the governing body of the UNECE Industrial Accidents Convention.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE COMMITTEE ON HOUSING AND LAND MANAGEMENT

In 1947, the UNECE set up a Panel on Housing Problems, which later evolved into the Committee on Human Settlements and then, after the reform in 2005/2006, into the CHLM. The CHLM is an intergovernmental body of all UNECE member States. It provides a forum for the compilation, dissemination and exchange of information and experience on housing, urban development, and land administration policies. Through workshops, research on urban issues and land administration, as well as analyses of the housing and real estate sector, the CHLM advises member countries on human settlement policies and strategies and encourages their practical implementation. The CHLM supports the economic and social stabilization of Central and Eastern Europe by suggesting innovative modes of cooperation between different levels of government. It has annual sessions in which it, among other things, elects a Bureau and Chair who supervise the implementation of the programme of work between the CHLM’s sessions. It undertakes activities in the following four areas: country profiles on the housing sector; improvement of urban environmental performance; land registration and land markets; and housing modernization and management.

In 1999, the CHLM established the Working Party on Land Administration, which aims to promote land administration through security of tenure, develop real estate markets in countries in transition and modernize land registration systems in the less advanced countries of the region.

HUMAN is an advisory network consisting of experts from the private sector, non-governmental organizations, professional associations, research institutions and local authorities, which was established by the CHLM in 1997. Its objective is to work with the CHLM and its Bureau, advising on strategies and projects, acting as a link to the institutions, organizations and the business community and assisting in programme implementation.

The CHLM works closely with the European Union (EU), the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Council of Europe, the Council of Europe Development Bank, the UN Programme for Human Settlements (UN-HABITAT), and other UN regional commissions and specialized agencies.

67TH SESSION OF THE CHLM: This session was held from 18-20 September 2006, in Geneva, Switzerland. During the ministerial segment of this meeting, delegates adopted the Ministerial Declaration on Social and Economic Challenges in Distressed Urban Areas in the UNECE Region. Through this Declaration, UNECE Ministers of housing, spatial planning and land administration committed themselves to contributing to social cohesion through development of affordable housing, to further address the effective management of multi-family housing estates and to support activities in land management and spatial planning. The Declaration validates the goals and challenges of the UNECE Strategy for a Sustainable Quality in Life in Human Settlements in the 21st Century, which was adopted by Ministers in 2000. The CHLM discussed the implementation of the provisions of the Work Plan on UNECE Reform, particularly those addressed to the CHLM, and adopted new terms of reference for itself, the Working Party on Land Administration and HUMAN.

68TH SESSION OF THE CHLM: This session took place on 17-18 September 2007, in Geneva, Switzerland. The CHLM, among other things: endorsed the establishment of the Real Estate Market Advisory Group to the Working Party on Land Administration; discussed challenges and integrated policy responses pertaining to informal settlements; welcomed a UNECE decision to prepare a study on informal settlements and to establish a reference group to guide the work; discussed and approved the publication of the draft study “Spatial Planning – Key Instrument for Development and Effective Governance, with Special Reference to Countries in Transition”; and endorsed a new biennial performance assessment framework, including the expected accomplishments, indicators of achievements and measurement methodologies.

69TH SESSION OF THE CHLM: This session was held on 22-23 September 2008, in Geneva, Switzerland. The CHLM discussed, inter alia: energy efficiency in housing; housing and demographic changes; informal settlements; outreach, communication and knowledge management; and the outcome of the Third Regional Implementation Meeting on Sustainable Development, which was held in Geneva, on 28-29 January 2008. Delegates agreed on the need to address the issue of urban sprawl and requested the Secretariat to consider organizing a workshop on this issue in 2010. A workshop on informal settlements was held immediately following the session and produced a set of practical recommendations.

70TH SESSION OF THE CHLM: This session, held from 23-25 September 2009, in Geneva, Switzerland, opened with a one-day seminar on climate neutral cities which discussed sustainable land management, climate change mitigation, green building and the reduction of emissions in buildings. During the following two days the CHLM discussed: outcomes of the climate neutral cities seminar; the programme of work; building and construction safety; and cross-sectoral activities such as energy efficiency and land-use planning around high-risk industrial sites. Delegates agreed that the 71st session of the CHLM would include a high-level ministerial segment to address emerging issues such as climate change and the financial crisis.

REPORT OF THE MEETING

OPENING OF THE MEETING

On Monday and Tuesday, 21 and 22 September 2010, the CHLM convened for its 71st session, which was opened and chaired by CHLM Chair Wolfgang Förster, Austria.

ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA.

On Monday, delegates adopted the meeting’s agenda (ECE/HBP/161) without amendment. Director Marco Keiner, Director of the UNECE Environment, Housing and Land Management Division (EHLM), told delegates that the agenda reflects the most pressing issues facing housing and urban organization in the UNECE region in the new millennium. He highlighted three topics facing the Committee: the decision on how to proceed regarding principles and goals on affordable, healthy and ecological housing; energy efficiency in housing, including discussion of a draft action plan developed by the Secretariat; climate neutrality in cities, where the Committee will be presented with the outline of a study under preparation for presentation to the 72nd session of the CHLM in September 2011. He also mentioned the work of the CHLM subsidiary body, the Working Party on Land Administration (WPLA), and the conference on building and construction safety and disaster preparedness to be held in Baku, Azerbaijan, in November 2010.

WORK OF THE BUREAU AND THE REPORT OF THE HOUSING AND URBAN MANAGEMENT ADVISORY NETWORK (HUMAN)

On Monday, Chair Förster discussed the three meetings of the Bureau since the 70th session of CHLM, in December 2009 in Prague, Czech Republic, and in March and September 2010 in Geneva, Switzerland. The first meeting discussed: the results of a Prague workshop on energy efficiency in housing; work on country profiles; work on climate change adaptation and mitigation in the urban context; a possible framework convention on affordable, healthy and ecological housing; planning for several workshops; a joint work programme with UN-HABITAT; a new UNECE publication on green homes; and a new video prepared by the Secretariat and United Nations Television on energy efficiency in housing. The March meeting studied the outline of the study on climate neutral cities, the draft Action Plan on Energy-efficient Housing in the UNECE Region, and work by WPLA. September’s Bureau meeting focused on preparations for the CHLM.

Herbert Pfeiffer, Chairman, HUMAN, explained HUMAN had met twice since the last CHLM and attended two meetings of the Bureau. He said HUMAN made two main suggestions: updating the study of housing finance systems for economies in transition, and the initiation and organization of a joint congress of UNECE and the European Federation of Building Societies in Munich, Germany, in March 2010 on housing finance and affordable housing. He also noted HUMAN support for the planned Slovak workshop on increasing the efficiency of housing management. Asked by Chair Förster about HUMAN’s next projects, Pfeiffer replied that the Network is developing a Housing Cluster proposal to present to the CHLM Bureau detailing the complex interrelationships of the many actors involved in the housing field. He explained HUMAN is still in the process of contracting an expert to elaborate a proposal. He added that HUMAN is also preparing a project proposal regarding the promotion of a limited-profit housing industry in reforming economies.

REVIEW OF IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PROGRAMME OF WORK FOR 2010–2011

On Tuesday, Chair Förster reminded delegates of the report produced on the updated Programme of Work of CHLM (ECE/HBP/2010/1) and the short summary of the workshops implemented during the intersessional period (ECE/HBP/2010/5).

Country profiles on the housing sector: Belarus reported on the launching of their country profile (ECE/HBP/2010/150) and on progress in the country. She stressed the government’s housing reform, which incorporates a draft law on housing savings and a new housing code. Additional measures she highlighted under development include: increased access to mortgages and low interest credit to support access to affordable housing; design and construction of new, energy efficient housing; and support for improvement of existing housing to make it both affordable and energy efficient. She highlighted the training course held in partnership with UN-HABITAT on affordable housing for economies-in-transition to be held in Belarus 15-21 March 2011.

Azerbaijan reported on the finalization of their country profile to be presented in Baku on 18 December 2010. He noted that recent government efforts have been focused on addressing the post-war humanitarian crisis instead of developing a formal housing policy, and therefore Azerbaijan does not yet have a social housing programme.

Tajikistan presented the results of the fact-finding mission to that country, highlighting the work being done to adopt improved housing rates through their National Bank in order to increase the availability of affordable housing. He underscored the need for financial and institutional support for creating an appropriate investment environment, stressing that the needs of the population do not match what is available on the market.

Serhii Yampolskyi, Secretary to the CHLM, introduced the discussion on Kyrgyzstan’s country profile, saying it was almost finalized by UNECE and that the government has disseminated it to all stakeholders prior to publishing it. Wolfgang Amann, Institute for Real Estate, Construction and Housing Ltd., Austria, reported on the field mission to Kyrgyzstan and the mission’s principal findings of insufficient housing provision, deteriorating housing stocks, poorly developed housing management, lack of mortgage financing for existing housing stocks, and exhaustive problems with new informal settlements. Kyrgyzstan responded that the settlements described by Amann were informal, but not necessarily illegal, and that conditions there were not nearly as bad as portrayed. He described recent progress in registering property and land rights as well as instituting reforms similar to those described by Belarus. He stressed that the government has limited resources and would welcome help from international donors.

In response to Chair Förster’s request for a report on the mission to Uzbekistan, Christina von Schweinichen, EHLM, reported that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) had approached UNECE and UN-HABITAT to participate in a policy brief on housing in Uzbekistan, using the same methodology as that used for the UNECE country profiles, including policy recommendations. Asked by Chair Förster if this model of cooperation might be used in the case of other countries, she replied that Turkmenistan has already approached UNDP and UNECE about doing so.

Georgia reported on progress in implementing the 38 recommendations in its 2007 profile. She indicated progress on modernizing housing, making illegal construction disappear, instituting education and training programmes, launching infrastructure programmes, using recreational zoning and creating green areas. She reported no progress in elaborating a social housing policy, and only slight progress in dealing with unfinished construction. Asked by Chair Förster, Georgia promised to provide a written version of the update to the CHLM.

Slovakia reported on her country’s experiences in implementing its country profile, which was finished in 1998. She said the profile’s recommendations came at a propitious time, and served as the basis for substantial updates of the state housing policy in 2000, 2005 and 2010. She said that, as a result of the profile, much progress had been made on the ten most important recommendations of the 60 offered in the profile, resulting in a new set of instruments, new laws and law changes, the introduction of a national system of housing allowances, and rents that actually reflect cost.

Opening the floor to discussion, Chair Förster highlighted Slovakia as an encouraging example of how conducting country profiles can influence housing and land management systems within a country. He welcomed a request from Ukraine for support in conducting their country profile, and asked Ukraine to provide the Secretariat with an official letter to formalize the process.

Albania noted the positive impact of the profiling process but stated that one of biggest challenges is how to integrate the diversity within different countries and streamline them into a general framework. She stressed the need for experts conducting country profiles to treat each country independently and to acknowledge that many countries have no tradition of housing ownership and land management. She referred to work being conducted by the World Bank on the rental sector and underscored the importance of collaboration from both a technical and financial assistance point of view. Chair Förster welcomed the idea of working with institutions like the World Bank.

Affordable, healthy and ecological housing: On Monday afternoon Professor Franz Radermacher, Research Institute for Applied Knowledge Processing, Germany, gave a keynote presentation on the global context for affordable, healthy and ecological housing (AHEH). He noted the importance of looking at the housing sector in the context of sustainability, stating that the future of this sector depends on global governance and cooperation amongst global institutions. He underlined that the promotion of neoliberal economic policies in economies in transition has not proven successful; stressing that whilst competition is important, cooperation is of greater importance. Radermacher presented a case study of the German real estate sector, highlighting the ecological credentials of the professional sector. He warned, however, that the costs associated with the government’s plans to refurbish old housing is beyond their capacity and will reduce access to this housing by poor people. He used this case to highlight the problem of placing too much emphasis on ecological policies at the expense of social policies.

Serhii Yampolskyi, Secretary to the CHLM, presented the Secretariat’s background paper on AHEH (ECE/HBP/2010/6). He explained that the paper, prepared at the request of the Bureau, provides the rationale for the development of a UNECE-wide comprehensive policy framework convention for AHEH and outlines key principles and goals for AHEH. He said the three principles that the paper recommends for the convention are: access to affordable housing and secure tenure are crucial for peoples’ well-being and for ensuring a socially cohesive society; every citizen has the right to a healthy, safe and comfortable home; and every citizen has the right to live in ecologically sound and energy-efficient homes.

Chair Förster asked the CHLM to discuss their perspectives on the paper and whether they wished to endorse its recommendation to create a working group to explore the potential for a framework convention to be negotiated in a timeframe of two years or so. Christina von Schweinichen, EHLM, stressed that CHLM needs to understand that what was being proposed is a framework convention of general principles and not a technical convention. Once the convention is signed, she said, the work is not over, but rather is only beginning, with member states having to adapt their internal legislation to align with the convention’s principles. She recommended that the delegates query their counterparts in government that regularly deal with the many policy framework conventions developed by the UNECE’s Environment Committee.

Serbia expressed support for the paper. Switzerland asked that the paper reflect more the importance of neighborhoods for the social integration of immigrants and people of other cultural backgrounds. Azerbaijan requested that the document include references to refugees. The Russian Federation supported the development of a working group, but was not ready to express a view on what shape the terms of reference document should take. Slovenia stressed the important role of spatial planning and spatial urban development, and, supported by Portugal, suggested the framework convention should provide a good platform for communication and cooperation between different sectors. Slovenia also called for the convention to keep the right balance between duties and rights, arguing that the paper emphasized rights but failed to address the need for each household’s active participation in ensuring its own housing. Citing its own legislation, Albania expressed concern about the paper’s references to “rights of housing.” Chair Förster concurred with this last concern, but said whether it was included in a convention would be left up to the working group. The European Liaison Committee for Social Housing (CECODHAS) volunteered to provide to examples to put “meat on the bones” of the document’s framework principles and goals.

Christina von Schweinichen, EHLM, underscored that the paper will only serve as a background to the working group’s deliberations, not as a negotiating text. In response to a question from the Russian Federation, Chair Förster replied that the working group will serve to decide whether or not it would be useful to have a convention. Switzerland queried what expertise would be required of each country’s nominee for the working group. von Schweinichen responded the working group needs people who know the housing sector well but also understand the implications of a possible convention for their country’s laws.

Following the discussion, the CHLM decided to set up a working group, and countries were asked to nominate their experts/representatives by the end of October, with a view to holding the first meeting of the working group in January 2011.

Improvement of urban environment performance: On Tuesday morning, Chair Förster noted that the CHLM had decided at its 70th Session to work on climate neutrality and that a study had been launched on climate-neutral cities. The consultant preparing the study, Oleg Golubchikov, University of Oxford, UK, outlined the rationale and basic structure of the study. He said the study confronts two problems: how to ensure economic growth is decoupled from carbon emissions, and how to adapt cities to climate change, making them more resilient. He stressed that carbon neutrality is not just a goal for cities to seek, but also a pathway to that goal, where progress can be achieved gradually, often with low-cost steps.

Kaj Bärlund, City Board, Porvoo, Finland, presented the case study of his small historical city that has been able to reduce its own greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through greater use of renewable sources for district heating, less oil heating and changes in waste management, but these have been offset by increases in GHG emissions from a nearby petrochemical complex. He said the irony was the plant was increasing its GHG emissions in pursuit of producing high-demand “more environmentally friendly” products. He urged caution in pressuring industry to pursue one environmental goal at the expense of others.

Jomar Lygre Langeland, Town Planning and Development Department, Drammen, Norway, discussed his city’s efforts to green its urban development. He said Drammen is now confronting tougher sustainability issues as part of Norway’s “Cities of the Future” Programme, changing land use and transportation patterns while emphasizing green building and energy efficiency. He outlined some lessons learned for local governments, including: develop a robust vision; stick to your plan over time; find opportunities to cooperate with state government; find common goals; provide inspiration both to politicians and the administration; focus your investments; and build quality.

Simona Weisleder, IBA Hamburg, spoke on their work on International Building Exhibitions, which are used as an instrument of spatial planning. She described the case of the Wilhemsburg area in Hamburg, where their work has three themes: climate and cities, looking at climate neutrality in urban space; “Kosmopolis,” looking at how to deal with a multinational society and provide education on urban climate issues; and “Metrozones,” looking at building cohesion in a metropolitan patchwork. She detailed three “lighthouse” projects that deal with renewable energy generation, energy efficient housing and land management, but stressed the importance of building strategies and realistic projects for the whole area that encouraged the involvement of the resident population. Chair Förster concurred, stressing the importance of education and communicating climate ideas to encourage communities to participate in actions being taken.

Hans Christian Karsten presented on behalf of the city of Copenhagen on its vision for 2015. He underlined the three factors that are required for progress to be made in tackling climate change issues in cities: policymakers need visions with strategic goals for their city; actions need to be made to stimulate the economy, such as private sector investment; and follow-up is needed to ensure actions reflect the vision. He concluded with details of how Copenhagen is working towards its vision to “create a global difference by leading by example,” highlighting their annually approved “green accounts” as an integrated way of making green decisions. Chair Förster underscored that green accounting strategies are something that should be used for generating new governance structures.

Alexis Robert, OECD, presented on multilevel governance frameworks for climate policy action in cities. She described the need for horizontal and vertical coordination, to enable interaction amongst and between policy makers from the national to the local level. She underscored how a framework that promotes coordination through each stage of the policy-making process, through strong mandates, incentives for growth and innovation, and transfer of expertise, can strengthen both national and local climate policy.

In the ensuing discussion, Finland praised Copenhagen’s example, stressing its steady vision and its use of cheap tools such as parking restrictions. Slovakia noted all the presentations had important messages for member states to take into account, and asked that the Secretariat summarize the key messages for delegates in a document. Portugal raised several points, including the need: for establishing a vision and long-term strategy; for integrated strategies to avoid working at cross-purposes; to educate and involve average citizens in the process so they develop an interest in maintaining the strategy; to give district cooling as much attention as district heating; and to ensure that cities do not forget climate adaptation strategies in their pursuit of becoming climate-neutral. The World Health Organization (WHO) alerted the CHLM to the International Workshop on Housing, Health and Climate Change to be held in Geneva from 13-15 October. The International Council for Women (ICW) called for more emphasis on education and involving populations in the planning and policymaking processes. The International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI) stressed the importance of green growth for the real estate market.

Chair Förster invited the presenters to respond to the audience’s comments. All agreed that involving civil society and the population was important. Bärlund stressed that cheap tools do not suffice, they have to be practical enough for people at the local level to readily accept and implement them. Langeland urged pursing both an integrated approach and the OECD’s advocacy of approaching the issue from every direction possible. He also called for green taxation and national government incentives to cities to become carbon neutral. Karsten underscored that citizens are voters too, and any long-term strategy, as climate neutral city policies must be, will face constant competition for scarce budget resources. Golubchikov said it was important for cities to: involve not just citizens, but also the private sector; have showcase projects and check their replicability to other areas of their city; promote cooperation between different levels of government authority; and seek sustainable sources of financing for projects. Weisleder cautioned that Hamburg’s strategy of relying on international competitions for innovation may not work for other cities.

At the request of Chair Förster, Czech Republic reported on the outcome of the workshop on Enhancing Urban Performance, held in Prague on 3-4 May 2010. She mentioned one outcome was a possible joint meeting of Housing Ministers of the UNECE and the European Union (EU) during 2011 and that her country is considering, depending on budget resource, organizing a spring 2011 workshop in Prague on rental housing renaissance.

Ariel Ivanier, Secretary to the WPLA, reported on plans for the 28-29 October workshop in Antalya, Turkey on spatial planning, the goal of which is to see how far member states have advanced in implementation of planning policies and what current challenges they face.

Land registration and land markets: On Tuesday afternoon Damir Pahić, WPLA, presented on recent and upcoming workshops organized by the Working Party. These workshops are based on three areas of their work: land administration policies regarding fraud and transparency in land regulation and land markets; major trends characterizing land administration development; and work towards a land administration review, to be conducted in Moldova in 2011.

Presenting on the Symposium “Land management strategies for improving urban rural inter-relationships – best practice and regional solutions” held in May 2010, in Hanover, Germany, Peter Creuzer stressed the need for an integrated cross-sectoral approach to urban development. He outlined how the symposium highlighted inter alia the need for: a good spatial planning framework; reduced urban sprawl; improved land registration in Europe and Central Asia; infrastructure for spatial data provision; and mutual recognition of both rural and urban areas. He concluded that rural and urban areas are inter-dependent and need to be targeted through coordinated action.

Wolfgang Amann, reporting as the Chair of REM, reviewed the ten principles outlined in REM’s publication “Policy Framework for Sustainable Real Estate Markets.” He said that the publication was well-received at a June 2010 event in the Ukraine on sustainable real estate markets, and may influence a forthcoming regulatory proposal there. He also suggested it may be influencing the thinking in social housing policies under development in Montenegro and Macedonia. In conclusion Amann underscored that this publication will be guiding all REM’s future work.

Housing modernization and management: This segment opened on Tuesday afternoon with the showing of a video on energy efficiency in housing made by UNECE and United Nations Television that was first shown at the Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change held in December 2009 in Copenhagen. Chair Förster then reminded the CHLM that at its 70th Session the Committee had decided to add energy efficiency in housing to its work programme and to develop an Action Plan for Energy-efficient Housing in the UNECE Region that took into account the results on relevant workshops held during 2009 in Vienna and Bulgaria.

The consultant in charge of drafting the Action Plan (ECE/HBP/2010/4), Oleg Golubchikov, University of Oxford, UK, outlined its rationale and basic structure. He explained the Plan lists a range of measures aimed at removing barriers to energy efficiency and progressively moving towards a low-energy and ultimately zero-energy and carbon-neutral housing sector. He said the Plan is based on the guiding principles of comprehensiveness, flexibility, a people-centered approach, and sensitivity to geographical context. He listed the Plan’s three policy areas for action: energy efficiency, governance and financial infrastructure; energy performance standards and technical integration; and access to energy efficiency and public housing. He explained that each policy area has four goals, and each goal is broken down into detailed targets and actions to be taken.

The Committee adopted the Action Plan and recommended UNECE member states to adapt the targets and measures in the Plan to local conditions in their respective countries.

Hanspeter Oester, AGPS Architecture, Switzerland, presented how his architecture firm developed the new IUCN office in Gland Switzerland. He used the presentation to detail what strategies and resources were used by AGPS to renovate the existing structure and create a high profile, passive building with strong ecological credentials.

CECODHAS presented “UNECE Action Plan for Energy-efficient Housing in the UNECE Region – the context and main challenges – some case studies from POWER HOUSE EUROPE.” She highlighted how the work of CECODHAS members is closely related to the EU approach of tackling energy performance in housing through governance mechanisms, standards, affordability and access. She outlined the ‘Powerhouse Europe’ programme, which uses case studies and guidelines to facilitate the continuous exchange of expertise on topics relating to energy transitions and build capacity of its members, with the aim of creating “future proof” housing.

Marko Vujović, Deputy Minister for Spatial Planning and Environment, Montenegro, presented on the approach dealing with social housing in Montenegro. He highlighted their new housing law, public-private partnership housing legislation and the Montenegro Fund for Solidarity Housing Development (CFSSI), describing them as the three cornerstones for solving Montenegro’s social housing needs. He stressed that the only acceptable way for providing social housing is through partnership between commercial companies, banks and government.

Barbara Galassi, UN-HABITAT, reported on her organization’s programmes for Central and Southeastern Europe, including: capacity-strengthening for all Southeastern Europe; monitoring of the implementation of the Vienna Declaration on Informal Settlements in Southeastern Europe; a conference on decentralization and the strengthening of local authorities to be held in Poland in January 2011; an October 2009 meeting in Warsaw, Poland, on financing affordable housing and infrastructure in cities; and the preparation of the State of European Cities in Transition report over the next ten months.

Serbia presented on its progress in implementing social housing policies, including a new social housing law in 2009, a completed national strategy for social housing; new regulations on licensing neighborhood housing organizations; and the coming establishment of a Republic Housing Agency in 2011. She said among the lessons learned about housing reform are: it is important to inspire the will to act before generating plans of action; it is good to strengthen capacity on all levels to facilitate cooperation with all relevant actors; and where capacity is lacking, working with relevant international organizations can help a lot.

BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION SAFETY

On Tuesday afternoon, Azerbaijan discussed preparations for an international conference to be held in Baku,Azerbaijan,  on 16-17 November on measures addressing the two dimensions of building safety in relation to natural disasters, namely: prevention and post-disaster reconstruction.

Anthony Paish, World Fire Statistics Centre, noted that some UNECE countries are considering adding to building codes the requirement to install residential sprinkler systems, since even with fire alarms people often do not have sufficient warning to escape. He also raised the issue of how building codes only address the safety of inhabitants, not the building itself, and noted that when a building burns down it releases so many carbon emissions it may negate decades of emission reduction measures undertaken by its inhabitants.

Donald Haszczyn, Habitat for Humanity International, reported on their work along with UNECE, UN-HABITAT, UNDP and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to create a Housing Forum for Europe and Central Asia. He said the idea of the Forum is to share best practices and tackle challenges together, with its structure divided along four themes: housing as a political agenda; housing vulnerabilities; housing in the economic and financial crisis; and housing and development. He mentioned the first session of the Forum will take place in Budapest, Hungary, from 4-6 April, 2011.

CROSS-SECTORAL ACTIVITIES

Energy efficiency: On Tuesday, Oleg Dzioubinski, UNECE Sustainable Energy Division, reported on the outcome of the meeting of the Steering Committee of the Energy Efficiency 21 Project. He highlighted the role of the project for enhancing regional cooperation on: energy efficiency; market formation; and investment in projects aimed at reducing GHG emissions in economies in transition. He supported continued collaboration between his division and CHLM, and highlighted the upcoming International Energy Efficiency Forum to be held from 28-30 September in Astana, Kazakhstan, which will be run in parallel with the sixth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific (MCED-6).

Land-use planning around high-risk industrial sites: On Tuesday Lukasz Wyrowski, UNECE Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents, discussed preparations for the joint seminar with CHLM on land-use planning around high-risk industrial sites to be held in The Hague, The Netherlands, on 11-12 November 2010. He said the seminar would: examine the interests and priorities of different stakeholders; consider potential conflicts of interests; consider examples of good practice; and look at possible policy instruments and recommendations. Chair Förster urged delegates to attend the seminar, underscoring the importance of supporting joint ventures such as this.

ELECTION OF THE BUREAU

On Tuesday, delegates elected the following members to the Bureau: Wolfgang Förster (Austria); Doris Andoni (Albania); Azer Khanlarov (Azerbaijan); Daniela Grabmüllerova (Czech Republic); Damir Pahič (Croatia); Natia Jokhadze (Georgia); Elena Bejenaru (Republic of Moldova); Svetlana Ristic (Serbia); Elena Szolgayova (Slovakia); and Ernst Hauri (Switzerland).

OTHER BUSINESS

On Tuesday, Secretary Yampolskyi discussed the process for the renewal of the mandates of CHLM’s subsidiary body, WLPA, as well as REM and HUMAN. He stated that by the end of 2010 the Secretariat will distribute questionnaires to delegates for them to assess the work of these groups. The responses will be presented to the UNECE Executive Committee for its consideration.

Von Schweinichen, EHLM, drew attention to the Trust Fund, noting, in particular, contributions from Switzerland, Slovenia and Czech Rep and additional support from the Netherlands. She expressed concern about the current state of the fund and, whilst acknowledging the current economic climate, suggested that delegates consider contributing their “leftover” unspent funds at the end of their Ministry’s budget year.

CLOSING OF THE MEETING

On Tuesday afternoon, prior to closing the session, Chair Förster expressed the gratitude of the Committee and Bureau to Christina von Schweinichen, who is retiring, for her many years of service to CHLM. Chair Förster then closed the meeting at 5:35.

Green Buildings Workshop: This workshop, part of a larger International Energy Efficiency Forum event organized by UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), will examine the role of buildings for climate change mitigation and Green Growth, and the experience and lessons learned in improving energy efficiency in buildings as part of the UN Development Programme (UNDP)/Global Environment Facility (GEF) Climate Change Mitigation portfolio in Europe and Central Asia. date: 29 September location: Astana, Kazakhstan contact: Oleg Dzioubinski phone: +4122-917-2360 fax: +4122-917-0038 email: oleg.dzioubinski@unece.org internet: http://www.unece.org/energy/se/docs/eneff_AstanaEEForum_Sept10.html

International Workshop on Housing, Health and Climate Change: This workshop, organized by the World Health Organization (WHO), intends to bring a health perspective and practical guidance to proposed improvements in the built environment to be enacted in response to climate change, including mitigation and adaptation measures such as energy efficiency. It is expected to lead to the development of science-based advice on how measures to reduce climate change in housing and construction can avoid risks to health, and produce health improvements. The meeting will also consider and make recommendations about the need and opportunity for a wider set of science-based guidance for healthy housing and buildings to be led by WHO. dates: 13-15 October location: Geneva, Switzerland contact: Ruth Etzel email: etzelr@who.int internet: http://www.who.int/phe/news/events/13_11_10/en/index.html

Sustainable Urban Development in Latin American Megacities: This is the final stakeholders conference of the Risk Habitat Megacity Project, an initiative conducted by Germany’s Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and partner organizations, including the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), that aims to provide strategies for sustainable urban development by overcoming the ecological, social and economic risks of mega-urbanization. dates: 27-28 October location: Santiago, Chile contact: Ricardo Jordán phone: +562 210 2364 email:ricardo.jordan@cepal.orginternet: http://www.risk-habitat-megacity.ufz.de

Joint Seminar on Land-use Planning Around High-risk Industrial Sites: UNECE Committee on Housing and Land Management (CHLM) and the governing body of the UNECE Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents will co-host a seminar on balancing the sometimes conflicting needs of land-use planning and industrial safety. dates: 11-12 November 2010 location: The Hague, The Netherlands contact: phone: +41 (0) 22 917 1357 fax: +41 22 917 0107 email:housing.landmanagement@unece.orginternet: http://www.unece.org/hlm/prgm/hmm/construction%20safety/baku/welcome.htm

International Forum on Natural Disasters and Building and Construction Safety: UNECE CHLM will hold this workshop to address the two dimensions of building safety in relation to natural disasters: prevention and post-disaster reconstruction. dates: 16-17 November 2010 location: Baku, Azerbaijan contact: phone: +41 (0) 22 917 1357 fax: +41 22 917 0107 email:housing.landmanagement@unece.org internet: http://www.unece.org/hlm/prgm/hmm/construction%20safety/baku/welcome.htm

International Forum on “Greening Real Estate Markets – A Multi-Stakeholder Perspective”: The UNECE’s Real Estate Market Advisory Group (REM) and the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA) will co-host a forum to discuss ways governments, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and the private sector can contribute to the transition towards a green real estate sector, including existing challenges, obstacles and potential benefits. dates: 29-30 November location: Dessau-Roßlau, Germany email: housing.landmanagement@unece.orginternet: http://www.umweltbundesamt.de/umweltoekonomie-e/veranstaltungen/greening/index.php

Seminar on Cities’ Response to Climate Change: This seminar is hosted by ECLAC. dates: 29 November - 3 December 2010 location: Santiago, Chile contact: Ricardo Jordán phone: +56-2-210-2364 e-mail:ricardo.jordan@cepal.org internet: http://www.eclac.org/default.asp?idioma=IN

Housing Forum for Europe and Central Asia: Habitat for Humanity, UNECE, UNDP, UN-HABITAT and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies will launch the Forum as a collaborative effort to bring the issue of decent housing to the forefront of the agenda in the Europe-Central Asia region. dates: 4-6 April 2011 location: Budapest, Hungary contact: Martina Babvlova phone: +421-2-3366-9000 e-mail:ecahousingforum@habitat.org

^ up to top
Back to IISD coverage

The UNECE Committee on Housing and Land Management Bulletin is a publication of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) <info@iisd.ca>, publishers of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin © <enb@iisd.org>. This issue was written and edited by Alice Miller and Keith Ripley. The Digital Editor is Francis Dejon. The Editor is Leonie Gordon <leonie@iisd.org>. The Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI <kimo@iisd.org>. Funding for coverage of this meeting has been provided by the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). IISD can be contacted at 161 Portage Avenue East, 6th Floor, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 0Y4, Canada; tel: +1-204-958-7700; fax: +1-204-958-7710. The opinions expressed in the Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD. Excerpts from the Bulletin may be used in other publications with appropriate academic citation. Electronic versions of the Bulletin are sent to e-mail distribution lists (in HTML and PDF format) and can be found on the Linkages WWW-server at <http://www.iisd.ca/>. For information on the Bulletin, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services at <kimo@iisd.org>, +1-646-536-7556 or 300 East 56th St., 11A, New York, New York 10022, United States of America.

| Back to IISD RS "Linkages" | Visit IISDnet | Send e-mail to IISD RS |
© 2010, IISD. All rights reserved.