The seventieth session of the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Committee on Housing and Land Management (CHLM) convened in Geneva, Switzerland, from 23-25 September 2009. Around 140 participants attended the meeting, including country representatives as well as representatives from non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations, academia and the private sector.
The meeting was opened by a one-day seminar on climate neutral cities, which discussed: approaches to sustainable land management and the mitigation of climate change in cities; and green building and reduction of emissions in buildings.
During the remaining two days, the CHLM discussed: matters arising from the sixty-third UNECE session; the work of the CHLM Bureau; the report of the Housing and Urban Management Advisory Network (HUMAN); outcomes of the seminar on climate neutral cities; implementation of the programme of work for 2008-2009 and the draft programme of work for 2010-2011; building and construction safety; and cross-sectoral activities. Delegates elected a new Chair and Bureau, and agreed that the next session of the CHLM, to be held in Geneva, Switzerland, in 2010, will include a high-level ministerial segment to address emerging issues such as climate change and the financial crisis.
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, and 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. The CHLM 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.
The CHLM 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, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 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 the multi-family housing estates and to support the 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.
REPORT OF THE CHLM SEMINAR ON CLIMATE NEUTRAL CITIES AND THE 70TH SESSION OF THE UNECE COMMITTEE ON HOUSING AND LAND MANAGEMENT
On Wednesday, 23 September 2009, participants met for a one-day seminar on climate neutral cities, prior to the 70th session of the Commission on Housing and Land Management (CHLM).
Jan Kubiš, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), opened the seminar by video message, noting increasing UNECE activity on, inter alia, renewable energy sources, energy efficient housing, green habitat, and sustainable production and consumption. He called for a stronger focus on the housing sector in the post-Kyoto agreement, to be discussed at the December 2009 Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Doris Andoni, CHLM Chair, welcomed participants to the meeting. Highlighting that the building sector accounts for 40% of energy use, she noted its potential to help reduce energy consumption and emissions, and called for energy efficient housing, regulatory policies, legal and financial instruments, and appropriate planning tools. She stressed the need to consider the local level in the climate change agenda.
Marco Keiner, Director of the UNECE Environment, Housing and Land Management Division (EHLM), underscored city production zones, transportation, green spaces, and urban agriculture, all of which contribute either to climate change or to mitigation, and the multiple levels of stakeholders who make decisions on these.
Paola Deda, CHLM Secretariat, stressed that although climate change is a major challenge, it represents an opportunity to make cities sustainable, noting that the Kyoto Protocol provides a clear framework and measurable targets in this regard. She highlighted the important role of the UNECE region in meeting these targets.
CITY PLANNING AND LAND USE MANAGEMENT
This session was chaired by Corrado Clini, Italian Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea. He outlined projects that Italy is undertaking to reduce carbon emissions in the areas of building, urban planning and land management, and identified the potential major role of such reductions in combating climate change. Clini identified the upgrading of existing buildings as the main challenge ahead.
Luis Pais Correia, Dalkia International, delivered a keynote presentation on the role of the private sector in fighting climate change. Presenting statistics on urbanization and energy efficiency, he noted that “cities are the future carbon battleground.” Introducing different models for involvement of private enterprises, including energy services companies, Correia outlined various initiatives undertaken by the Clinton Climate Initiative and the C40 City Climate Leadership Group. He also addressed inefficiency in energy production and recent investments in new bioenergy initiatives. Correia stressed that since “the ideas, the ingenuity, the expertise, the technology, and even the money are already there,” the challenge lies in communication and cooperation between the public and private sectors. Chair Clini said the current meeting should increase understanding of barriers to these actions.
Juha Hulkkonen, Global Business Services (Finland), reported on multi-modality assessments in promoting sustainable urban traffic. He cited high effectiveness in integrating city transportation modes through the management of demand. He stressed inclusive and iterative inter-agency approaches to set goals, derive action plans and generate action.
Michael Denkel, Albert Speer and Partner GmbH (Germany), spoke on the “Frankfurt for Everyone” project, which aims to develop a set of strategic guidelines for sustainable city development. He said the guidelines focus on five areas: quality of life, science and education, economic power, environmental efficiency and metropolitan regions. He recommended that all huge conurbations develop efficient settlement structures with polycentric concentrations that reduce the need for mobility and increase environmental quality, social stability, and economic success.
Brigitte Dufour-Fallot, City Energy Counselor in Lausanne, Switzerland, elaborated on the Energy City Award, a European initiative aiming to promote energy efficiency in cities. She said the programme encompasses quality management and certification, and allows municipalities to share their experiences and identify strengths, weaknesses and potential for improvement in six areas: planning, communal buildings, waste management, mobility, internal organization and external communication.
During the ensuing discussion, the World Health Organization stressed the health benefits of energy efficiency strategies, such as those relating to improved air quality, and suggested using these as an argument to persuade and motivate citizens. She also highlighted the potential for greening the health sector itself. Participants also discussed ways to include the poor in energy efficiency measures and to increase the affordability of relevant social services, including social housing.
Cecil Konijnendijk, University of Copenhagen (Denmark), addressed the role of urban forests and trees. He equated the importance of green infrastructure to that of transport and waste infrastructure, noting it makes cities healthier but is damaged by climate change. He stressed that trees play an important role in adaptation through cooling cities, reducing flooding and air pollution, and buffering extreme winds, and noted the symbolic awareness-raising role of tree planting.
Nikolai Bobylev, Technical University of Berlin (Germany), spoke on urban underground infrastructure (UUI) and climate change. Noting that life in cities depends on critical infrastructure for transportation, resource supply, waste management, and communications, he recommended: use of UUI to increase city density, reduce energy use and combat sprawl; non-motorized public transportation to enhance energy efficiency and reduce emissions; energy efficient public facilities and service industries; and convergence of infrastructures.
Peter Droege, Hochschule Liechtenstein, stressed the need for a global energy transition, noting that in the UNECE region health costs resulting from fossil fuel use amount to 90 billion euros annually. He addressed global scenarios for greenhouse gas reduction, emphasizing the need for: a long-term target below the current atmospheric concentration of carbon; shorter deadlines than 2050 for reaching those targets; and a rapid phase-in of alternative energy sources. Droege also described various city greening initiatives worldwide.
Mathieu Laperelle, K’nL Architecture (France), elaborated on a project aiming to build houses for settled nomads in the Alsace region, France. He said these houses ensure high energy efficiency and low energy use, making optimal use of renewable materials and energy. Noting that the project meets social, environmental as well as economic criteria, he said it may serve as an example for projects worldwide.
During a brief discussion, participants addressed the need to collect and disseminate information on best practices related to maintaining the quality of urban green spaces, and noted national legislation and public-private partnerships as useful tools. One participant expressed concern about the impact of UUI on quality of life and urban green spaces. Konijnenberg noted that the size of a tree’s canopy is roughly the size of its root system, arguing that this should be taken into account when planning underground infrastructures. Participants also discussed: the energy-saving benefits of collecting and recycling water locally; the need to include health impact assessments in the process of urban planning; the health benefits of green spaces; and the need to involve women’s organizations in urban planning, given the importance of urban green spaces for family life.
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
Zdravko Genchev, EnEffect Centre for Energy Efficiency (Bulgaria), chaired this session, noting the reacceptance of the concept of planning since the immediate post-communist era. He queried which is worse: “wrong housing policy” or no “housing policy.”
In his keynote address, Wolfgang Feist, Passive House Institute (Germany), said “passive house” technology may reduce energy consumption by 90%, through, inter alia, good insulation, “superwindows” and heat recovery, and that it can be used in either new or refurbished buildings. He stressed that with a “passive house” standard the energy supply available in Germany can meet the overall energy reduction requirement expected for 2050. He highlighted the benefits of installing “superwindows” for saving energy costs and promoting local production rather than fossil fuel imports.
Paul Rode, Johnson Controls Inc. (US), presented on the renovation of the Empire State Building in New York, US. Underscoring the need to take a whole-system, integrated approach when making existing buildings more energy efficient, he described the large potential of measures such as: putting controls in buildings to actively schedule lighting, ventilation, heating and air-conditioning; and putting meters in buildings to make people aware of their energy use.
Charles Magnier, Prioriterre (France), introduced his organization’s activities in the field of environmental sustainability. Presenting the “House of the Planet” project, a pilot sustainable building project, he outlined lessons learned with regard to optimal management of light, noise, indoor air quality, energy use, use of renewable construction materials and ease of dismantling.
Andrew Waugh, Waugh Thistleton Architects Ltd. (UK), reported on a project to build a nine-story cross-laminated timber building in London, UK. He noted timber’s potential to replace concrete and steel as a carbon storing material, as well as other advantages, including fast, accurate, light and relatively inexpensive construction, and health and safety benefits. He noted that the building has passed tall-building tests on movement, stability, acoustics, and fire, and stressed that it is not a revolutionary process only suitable for “green warriors.”
An ensuing question and answer session highlighted: payback rate versus life cycle analysis as a measure of investment viability; comparisons between energy consumption and emissions during the building process versus during building use; the need to use renewable materials sustainably; the need to prioritize energy efficiency over efficiency in materials used; the need for measures to protect timber buildings from earthquakes, seismic activity and temperature differentials in some regions; and the need for windows that open for good indoor air quality.
Susan Roaf, author of Adapting Buildings and Cities to Climate Change, described the paradox of modern buildings being less energy efficient and climate resilient despite the increasing threat of climate change. Advocating “passive” low-energy architecture, she argued that the models used for energy certification are often based on false assumptions or particularistic interests. She called for improved social equality, capacity planning and resource allocation.
Erkin Boronbaev, Kyrgyz State University of Construction, Transportation and Architecture (Kyrgyzstan), identified a key role for motivation and involvement of the public. Noting that climate neutral building is best suited for small settlements, and individual buildings in particular, he called for transfer of finances and technology to developing countries, relevant organizations and businesses, and individual families.
Tzveta Naniova, UN Development Programme (UNDP) (Bulgaria), addressed energy efficiency improvement in multi-family houses as part of urban development plans in Bulgaria. Among problems encountered, she noted that: 96% of buildings are privately owned; there are technical, legal, financial, and organizational barriers; experience and initiative are lacking; and responsibilities are unclear. She highlighted the results of a national pilot project, noting its financial, environmental and socioeconomic successes.
Edmundo Werna, International Labour Organization, spoke on green jobs for climate neutral cities. He queried the skills needed for creating and managing carbon neutral cities and stressed the importance of including labor in the equation in order to avoid socially derelict cities through combating inequalities in livelihoods. Werna called for investment in various elements of green jobs, such as training and awareness raising, to help workers be promoters of change. He stressed combining new opportunities with the needs of specific niches of workers, combining green technologies with secure working conditions, and combining technology with job creation.
Wolfgang Förster, Vienna Regional Housing Department (Austria), underscored the contribution of the UNECE to energy efficiency in housing, including in defining concepts, considering examples and lessons learned, and providing policy advice to the European region. He noted an ongoing process to develop an action plan for UNECE consideration and UNECE contributions towards integrating energy efficiency in housing into the post-Kyoto framework.
In the ensuing discussion, participants highlighted: the need to ensure social equality between rich and poor countries within the European region; the inappropriate privatization of utilities in the UK without reinvestment of profits into housing; the usefulness of public subsidization of pilot housing projects; and government and insurance industry efforts to decrease vulnerability in small and medium enterprises and the public sector and to foster planning for business continuity in preparation for disaster.
Meeting rapporteur Martti Lujanen, Finnish Environment Ministry, reflected on the day’s discussions, stressing the importance of exchange of information and experiences between countries.
THE 70TH SESSION OF THE UNECE COMMITTEE ON HOUSING AND LAND MANAGEMENT
On Thursday and Friday, 24 and 25 September 2009, the CHLM convened for its 70th session, which was opened and chaired by Doris Andoni, CHLM Chair. Marco Keiner, Director of the UNECE Environment, Housing and Land Management Division (EHLM), expressed his appreciation for the quality of the discussions during Wednesday’s seminar on climate neutral cities.
ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA: On Thursday, delegates adopted the meeting’s agenda (ECE/HBP/151) without amendment.
MATTERS ARISING FROM THE 63RD UNECE SESSION: Paola Deda, CHLM Secretariat, reported on this session, which was held from 30 March to 1 April 2009 in Geneva, Switzerland, and comprised two thematic sessions: economic integration within the UNECE region, with particular reference to the financial crisis; and mitigation and adaptation to climate change. She said expert reports were heard on the impact of the financial sector on the real estate sector and on the CHLM’s activities on energy efficiency and housing. She noted the UNECE’s decision to develop an action plan on energy efficiency in housing for the UNECE region.
WORK OF THE BUREAU AND OF THE HOUSING AND URBAN MANAGEMENT ADVISORY NETWORK (HUMAN): Chair Andoni reported on the outcomes of the CHLM Bureau meeting held in Sofia, Bulgaria, on 22 April 2009 (ECE/HBP/2009/3), noting that the Bureau had evaluated the CHLM programme of work for 2008-2009. She then gave an update on country profiles, noting that: the profiles for Belarus and Kyrgyzstan have been completed (ECE/HBP/150 and 154); the one for Georgia has been officially launched; a profile for Azerbaijan is being prepared; contacts have been made to initiate profiles for Tajikistan and Turkmenistan; and discussion continues on a process that will allow countries to update their existing profiles.
On urban environmental performance, Chair Andoni said the Bureau had endorsed the study on informal settlements, “Self-made Cities: In Search of Sustainable Solutions for Informal Settlements in the UNECE Region,” which was launched in June 2009 during the sixth session of the Working Party on Land Administration (WPLA). She said this joint effort between the CHLM and the WPLA serves as an example of cooperation between the two bodies, showing the linkages between housing and land administration issues.
On land registration and land markets, Chair Andoni highlighted the work plans of the WPLA and the Real Estate Market Advisory Group (REM), and the WPLA workshop on transparency in land markets, to be held on 1-2 October 2009 in Baku, Azerbaijan.
On housing modernization and management, Chair Andoni said the workshop on energy efficiency in housing, held in Sofia, Bulgaria, on 21-22 April 2009, would constitute the basis for a second workshop, to be held in Vienna, Austria, on 23-25 November 2009. She announced that the main topics will include: building and urban planning in the context of climate change; involvement of all relevant stakeholders; and integration of energy efficiency with refurbishment of existing housing, especially in countries with economies in transition. She said the CHLM had agreed to prepare guidelines on management of multi-family housing.
On monitoring of implementation, Chair Andoni drew attention to guidelines issued by the CHLM, including on social housing and housing financing and on urban planning. She also stressed the importance of cross-sectoral activities and of linkages with relevant organizations.
Stephanie Bamford, Chair of HUMAN, reported on the Network’s activities and membership changes. Discussion focused on efficient ways to implement the action plan on energy efficiency and on a process to facilitate experience sharing among UNECE countries.
CLIMATE NEUTRAL CITIES: Meeting rapporteur Martti Lujanen summarized the outcomes of Wednesday’s seminar on climate neutral cities (ECE/HBP/2009/2), noting that the meeting had highlighted the need for: a target-oriented system approach that recognizes all inter-sectoral linkages; consideration of the cost recovery issue; net zero energy consumption in buildings; energy prices that reflect true scarcity rather than subsidies which distort demand; government-led research centers and dissemination of information in the absence of private sector willingness to do this; and organization of training for the construction industry and developers who must take the lead on climate neutral cities.
Chair Andoni invited proposals for integrating the results of the seminar into the CHLM’s work. Wolfgang Förster proposed a study to further elaborate the ideas and expertise presented at this seminar and to make those available for wider dissemination. His proposal received wide support.
Serbia, supported by the Czech Republic, called for inclusion of rules or guidance for self-builders, at a non-governmental level of complexity, in such a study. Finland suggested using demonstration buildings in progressive stages of construction, with information provided on costs, investments needed, and savings. Slovenia, supported by the European Environmental Agency (EEA), noted the need to include reductions of emissions from buildings in national emissions reductions plans.
The EEA noted difficulties in recasting policy directives, particularly for the residential sector, and called for work on the meaning of energy standards in different countries. She supported the whole-system approach on inter-sectoral linkages. Finland highlighted co-generation of heat and power and queried how to make inter-sectoral linkages, given that they are covered by different UNECE committees.
The Netherlands noted the problems of shifting populations, both for areas losing population and thus their tax base and for growing cities that have overpopulation or underemployment problems. He queried how affected local governments can pay for new plans since manual labor jobs are moving abroad because they are too expensive to pay for in Europe.
The Czech Republic noted newly available European funding for increasing energy efficiency in housing and underscored the importance of architecture and urban design. The Secretariat reminded participants of the equal importance of land management in the CHLM program of work and suggested broadening the study to address improvement of urban environmental performance. Chair Andoni suggested including an element on this at the upcoming workshop on informal settlements to be held in Antalya, Turkey, in 2010.
A comment from Portugal called for developing guidelines on climate change at the urban level. The International Council of Women called for increased emphasis on the cost-saving aspect of energy efficiency. There was also a call for translating theory into practice by modeling the calculations needed to take account of differences in financial incentives, tax structures and other realities in different national contexts.
Summarizing this discussion, the Secretariat said the programme of work item on urban environmental performance will include a study emanating from the results of the seminar on climate neutral cities. She noted it will: cover the whole “urban system” of housing, buildings, and land management (transport, green spaces, and waste); address mitigation and adaptation strategies for climate change in urban areas; and include practical guidelines for policy-makers, local authorities, practitioners and individual households.
Chair Andoni confirmed that this consensus conclusion will be included in the session’s documentation as a decision taken and will be reflected in the Committee’s programme of work.
REVIEW OF IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PROGRAMME OF WORK FOR 2008–2009 AND DRAFT PROGRAMME OF WORK FOR 2010-2011: Chair Andoni introduced this agenda item (ECE/HBP/2009/4).
Country profiles: Georgia reported on the launching of its country profile (ECE/HBP/143) and on progress in the country, under a government actively interested in housing issues. She noted recent difficulties in implementation due to political unrest. Azerbaijan presented the results of the fact-finding mission to his country, noting that work remains to be done, such as on the establishment of legal informal settlements and on building safety. Belarus reported on progress since the finalization of the country profile (ECE/HBP/150). Kyrgyzstan highlighted the completion of its country profile (ECE/HBP/154) and elaborated on steps taken by the government with regard to housing and land management, including establishing linkages with the private sector. Tajikistan elaborated on the state of his country’s housing sector, noting geophysical challenges and large differences between cities and mountainous areas, and identified access to housing and safe living conditions as main priorities for action.
During discussion, Finland stressed the importance of locally produced materials, skills training, and efforts to address corruption in the building process. Christina von Schweinichen, EHLM, noted the need to consider cooperatives and social housing also. Chair Andoni, supported by Romania, called for additional review and follow-up on past country profiles and for revised country profiles to incorporate more review of land administration. Romania asked the Secretariat to develop a schedule of additional information to be sought from countries for the updates. The Secretariat explained how information is provided to international experts for country profiles and how the modular approach (ECE/HBP/2009/5) is used to identify topics to be covered within them.
Finland stressed the need to recognize interlinkages such as those between financing and the legal environment and queried how rural development should be included. Von Schweinichen said rural issues should be addressed in the context of land administration in country profiles, with separate but cross-referenced chapters on rural issues and urban planning. The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, supported by Serbia, called for work on climate neutral “settlements” rather than “cities.”
Responding to a query from the Huairou Commission, Chair Andoni noted that stakeholder involvement in the process is pursued and documented within country profiles. HUMAN, supported by Denmark, cautioned against including housing affordability analysis only in the context of social housing. Chair Andoni responded that it is included in all country profiles. Denmark called for making energy efficiency a mandatory theme in all country profiles.
Improvement of urban environment performance: Chair Andoni announced publication of the study on “self-made cities” in the UNECE region (ECE/HBP/155) and invited members of the CHLM to propose follow-up activities. The Secretariat underscored the 2010 workshop in Antalya, Turkey, which will consider informal settlement-related land tenure issues.
Land registration and land markets: Damir Pahič, Chair of the 6th session of the WPLA, reported on WPLA activities, including an ongoing study on preventing fraud in land administration institutions. He highlighted WPLA work on land administration policies, including on: experiences with fees for data for financing land administration organizations; improved data management (ECE/HBP/2009/8); and transparency and public access to information on land and real estate. On trends characterizing land administration, he noted: work on informal settlements, including the study on “Self-made Cities” in the UNECE region (ECE/HBP/155); approval of proposals for workshops in 2010 and 2011 on the role of spatial planning to improve security of tenure in the UNECE region and on examining the advantages of promoting integrated approaches to data management through inter-agency cooperation, respectively; and work on harmonization of land and real estate data. On land administration reviews (LARs), he noted LAR work done for Bulgaria, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan, with an upcoming LAR in Tajikistan in 2010, and WPLA approval of the modular approach in future LARs and country housing sector profiles. He called for harmonization of standards for measuring the quality and efficiency of existing public institutions and advocated cooperation between international organizations for avoiding overlaps between their work programmes.
Enrico Campagnoli, Chair of the REM, reported on a REM meeting on the global financial crisis and real estate in 2008, at which a decision was taken to formulate a “legal framework” to help countries to: develop real estate markets to benefit everyone; survive the current crisis; and consider how to avoid similar crises. He noted that the framework includes information on which elements should be required in financial products backed by real estate assets and on greening the real estate market to have positive impacts on gross domestic product.
During discussion, it was clarified that this legal framework is an open, “living” document that can be amended following comments and suggestions by its users, but that this should not keep countries from implementing it, given the urgency of the issue.
Housing modernization and management: Homelessness: Norway reported on a workshop on homelessness held on 18-19 May 2009 in Oslo, Norway (ECE/HBP/2009/9). Presenting the results of a questionnaire on national policies and strategies that was prepared in the context of this workshop, he drew attention to difficulties emanating from the cross-sectoral nature of the issue and the lack of a common definition of, and national data on, homelessness. He said the workshop had concluded that European cooperation can play an important role in the design and implementation of homelessness policies and that the UNECE should continue to cooperate with other relevant European organizations in this regard.
Energy efficiency in housing: The Secretariat, on behalf of Bulgaria, reported on a workshop on this issue held in Sofia, Bulgaria, on 21-22 April 2009, noting the workshop’s focus on institutional, financial, legal and technical challenges. She said the conclusions would be reflected in the publication Green Homes on energy efficiency in housing in the UNECE region, and further elaborated during the workshop to be held in Vienna, Austria, on 23-25 November 2009. She stressed that this workshop will focus on solutions and elaborate a draft action plan on this issue. Austria added that this draft will be presented to the next session of the CHLM and should serve to help build energy efficient housing more strongly into the post-Kyoto framework, as well as to showcase the CHLM’s work to a larger audience.
Multi-family housing:In the context of the CHLM’s ongoing work on multi-family housing (ECE/HBP/2009/7), Slovakia reported on the pilot project that has been in progress in Slovakia since 1999, when the Slovak country profile was finalized. Noting that the country’s economic transition was characterized by rapid privatization, she identified housing management as a crucial issue, given the fact that passive, inexperienced tenants suddenly became owners of the dilapidated housing stock. Herbert Pfeiffer, HUMAN, identified the project as a prime example of public-private partnership. He said it had resulted in concrete policy recommendations and in a template for the management of multi-family housing to be used by other countries. He said the recommendations addressed, among other things, stakeholder involvement, market research, legal framework analysis and education.
Finland expressed concern about the complexity of the presented template, particularly with regard to the organizational structure proposed for individual countries. Pfeiffer argued that this detailed structure facilitates matters, rather than complicating them.
Moldova and Ukraine elaborated on national experiences and activities in the area of multi-family housing. Slovakia suggested that a workshop be organized for interested countries and the private sector to further discuss the practicalities of implementing these recommendations, with a focus on energy efficiency.
Monitoring of implementation: Chair Andoni opened discussion with a presentation on progress in new approaches to housing in Albania. She noted Albania’s country profile (ECE/HBP/130), formulation of new guidelines for housing policies in 2002, new law on social housing in 2004 and implementation of its first social housing project (SHP) in 2008. She detailed the SHP, calling it a model for implementation of CHLM recommendations on local government “ownership” of and participation in financing, which ideally can be replicated by other municipalities without foreign loans. She noted lessons learned on: the need to keep such projects from becoming politicized between different political parties in power at different levels; the need to distinguish between a national government’s sovereign guarantee of repayment and local municipalities’ responsibility for loan repayment; and the unlikelihood of solving all problems with just one project. She also highlighted challenges, particularly for local government, including: management of different financial sources, procurement, reporting, allocation of housing units, the setting of rents and subsidy levels, and operation and management of the units themselves.
She then invited comments on monitoring implementation of the recommendations of the CHLM, particularly on monitoring methodologies. Supported by Austria, she suggested that countries could volunteer to make presentations at CHLM sessions on their experiences with implementation.
After some discussion on the absence of a global definition of “social housing,” Slovakia offered to make a presentation on its implementation activities at the 2010 CHLM session. Serbia noted its new law on social housing that includes a definition based on the CHLM guidelines; Serbia was then also listed to present on its implementation at the 2010 session. Austria suggested that the CHLM provide countries with lists of CHLM activities and recommendations and ask for information on their use of any of them.
The Secretariat noted the requirement for more formal monitoring of implementation, which includes mandatory reporting on progress in certain areas by the Secretariat to UN Headquarters. She requested that participants return questionnaires on implementation of CHLM recommendations and guidance as soon as possible. She also noted Bureau acceptance of the UNECE Strategic Framework for 2012 and 2013, which is very broad and keeps the same targets and tools as earlier ones.
BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION SAFETY: Introducing this agenda item on Friday, Chair Andoni said institutional, legal, financial and awareness issues often hinder the correct application of building technologies. She stressed the need for the CHLM to address this issue more directly.
Recalling the major earthquake in his country in 2000, Azerbaijan highlighted his country’s national strategy for renovation and construction, and proposed that a scientific conference on building safety be held in Baku, Azerbaijan, in 2010. The Netherlands stressed the need for the CHLM to take into account the harmonized European standards for building safety, with the Republic of Moldova calling for discussion on this issue and on safety at construction sites. Tajikistan noted the need to develop harmonized criteria for building resilience.
Several delegates suggested that all natural hazards, not just earthquakes, be taken into account in the CHLM’s work, with some mentioning sea level rise, wildfires and the melting of permafrost. A representative from academia drew attention to the work undertaken by other organizations in relation to disaster reduction and building resilience. The Huairou Commission stressed that building safety is as much a social issue as a technical one, and recommended that governments involve local organizations in monitoring safety issues.
CROSS-SECTORAL ACTIVITIES: The Secretariat elaborated on the CHLM’s cooperation with the UNECE Timber Committee, which addresses green building as part of its agenda. She stressed the limitations of that Committee’s approach as it focuses solely on timber as a construction material. Noting that the UN Environment Programme and the UN Programme for Human Settlements (UN-HABITAT) are also addressing this issue, she called upon the CHLM to send out a coherent and consistent message on a broader interpretation of green building.
The Secretariat highlighted several other cross-sectoral activities, including joint projects with UN-HABITAT, UNECE cooperation with UN-HABITAT’s regional offices, and cooperation between the UNECE, UN-HABITAT and the UNDP in Uzbekistan to prepare a policy brief on the impact of the financial crisis on the housing sector.
UN-HABITAT reiterated its dedication to cooperation with the CHLM. The Huairou Commission stressed the importance of liaising with other relevant organizations, such as the UN International Strategy on Disaster Reduction and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent. Finland called for cooperation to integrate statistics on homelessness and living conditions into national housing strategies. The International Council of Women highlighted the usefulness of celebrations such as World Habitat Day.
ELECTION OF THE BUREAU: Delegates elected Wolfgang Förster (Austria) as the new Chair of the CHLM, and the following new Bureau members: Doris Andoni (Albania); Azer Khanlarov (Azerbaijan); Daniela Grabmüllerova (Czech Republic); Damir Pahič (Croatia); Martti Lujanen (Finland); Natia Jokhadze (Georgia); Martina Hauser (Italy); Elena Bejenaru (Republic of Moldova); Sergey Barino (Russian Federation); Svetlana Ristic (Serbia); Elena Szolgayova (Slovakia); and Ernst Hauri (Switzerland). Chair Andoni noted the gender balance of seven women and six men on the new Bureau.
Christina von Schweinichen, EHLM, thanked Chair Andoni for her excellent chairpersonship, not only in the meetings of the CHLM but also in her efforts to follow the work of the Committee and put it into practice in her home country of Albania. She noted that this has been very valuable in demonstrating the usefulness of the work of the CHLM.
Chair Andoni thanked delegates for their participation and assistance, and presented the incoming Chair to the Committee. Wolfgang Förster, incoming Chair, noted the challenges that lie ahead for the CHLM, including the start of a number of important projects which will give the CHLM a significant role within the UN. He thanked Chair Andoni for her service and welcomed the fact that she will remain active within the Bureau.
OTHER BUSINESS: Chair Andoni highlighted the Bureau’s proposal to organize a ministerial meeting in September 2010, in conjunction with the 71st session of the CHLM. She underlined the timeliness of high-level involvement, considering that some major emerging issues, including climate change and the financial crisis, are not covered in the CHLM’s current strategic planning. She noted the need to discuss how these issues can be integrated into the CHLM’s programme of work and to showcase the role of the CHLM in relation to these emerging issues. Several delegates expressed support for this proposal, which was then accepted.
Von Schweinichen provided information about the Trust Fund on Human Settlements, noting, in particular, contributions from Switzerland, from the Netherlands for country profiles, and from Italy for communications activities and information dissemination. She requested that countries provide assistance for activities they find valuable, as the regular CHLM budget does not include any funding for activities. She noted that the Trust Fund provides for, inter alia, consultants’ fees and travel, experts’ travel, individual contractors, travel for seminar participants, and data processing equipment. The Czech Republic highlighted its contribution as well as its recent conference on housing, held during its EU presidency earlier this year, and noted that the conference proceedings are now available.
CLOSING OF THE MEETING: Von Schweinichen thanked the participants as well as the Secretariat for their roles in making the meeting a success. Chair Andoni then closed the meeting.
WPLA WORKSHOP ON TRANSPARENCY IN LAND MARKETS: This workshop of the Working Party on Land Administration will be held from 1-2 October 2009, in Baku, Azerbaijan. For more information, contact: Paola Deda, UNECE Secretariat; tel: +41 22 917 2553; fax: +41 22 917 0107; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Internet: http://www.unece.org/hlm/
FINANCING AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND INFRASTRUCTURE IN CITIES: This conference will take place from 16-17 October 2009, in Warsaw, Poland, and will focus on innovative tools for land and property taxation and sustainable urban development in countries with economies in transition. For more information, contact: UN-HABITAT Secretariat; tel: +254 20 7621234; fax: +254 20 7624266; e-mail: email@example.com; Internet: http://www.gltn.net/en/view-in-calendar-mode/view_detail-472.html
PROMOTING ENERGY ACCESS FOR THE URBAN POOR IN AFRICA - SLUM ELECTRIFICATION: CHALLENGES TO BE ADDRESSED: This workshop will be held from 26-28 October 2009, in Nairobi, Kenya, to launch the Global Energy Network for the Urban Settlements (GENUS) and its programme of work on Slum Electrification in Africa. For more information, contact: UN-HABITAT Secretariat; tel: +254 20 7621234; fax: +254 20 7624266; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Internet: http://mirror.unhabitat.org/content.asp?cid=7256&catid=26&typeid=11&subMenuId=0&AllContent=1
TOWARDS AN ACTION PLAN FOR ENERGY EFFICIENT HOUSING IN THE UNECE REGION: This international forum will take place from 23-25 November 2009, in Vienna, Austria, and will contribute towards development of an action plan for energy efficient housing under the UNECE. For more information, contact: Paola Deda, UNECE Secretariat; tel: +41 22 917 2553; fax: +41 22 917 0107; e-mail: email@example.com; Internet: http://www.energy-housing.net/
LAUNCHING OF THE BELARUS COUNTRY PROFILE ON THE HOUSING SECTOR: This UNECE-supported event will take place on 9-10 December 2009, in Minsk, Belarus. It will include expert discussions on technical and policy challenges, and will be open to interested national and international stakeholders and organizations. For more information, contact: Alena Rakava, Belarus Ministry of Architecture and Construction; tel: +375 17 200 3253; fax: +375 17 200 5689; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Internet: http://www.unece.org/hlm/ or http://www.main.gov.by/ru/www_arh/
GENDER EQUALITY ACTION ASSEMBLY OF THE FIFTH WORLD URBAN FORUM: This assembly will take place immediately prior to the 5th World Urban Forum, from 19-20 March 2010, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It will bring together partners to discuss progress and challenges relating to the implementation of the Gender Equality Action. For more information, contact: UN-HABITAT Secretariat; tel: +254 20 7621234; fax: +254 20 7624266; e-mail: email@example.com; Internet: http://mirror.unhabitat.org/content.asp?cid=7178&catid=26&typeid=11&subMenuId=0&AllContent=1
FIFTH WORLD URBAN FORUM: THE RIGHT TO THE CITY – BRIDGING THE URBAN DIVIDE: This event will take place from 22-26 March 2010, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and will focus on numerous issues including urban income gaps, inequality and poverty, participatory democracy, cultural diversity in cities, and women-friendly cities. For more information, contact: UN-HABITAT Secretariat; tel: +254 20 7621234; fax: +254 20 7624266; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Internet: http://www.unhabitat.org/categories.asp?catid=584
INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF NATIONAL HOUSING POLICIES: This meeting will be held in September 2010 in Minsk, Belarus (dates and venue to be determined). The conference will address challenges regarding the implementation of housing policies in countries for which country profiles have already been compiled. For more information, contact: Alena Rakava, Belarus Ministry of Architecture and Construction; tel: +375 17 200 3253; fax: +375 17 200 5689; e-mail: email@example.com; Internet: http://www.unece.org/hlm/ or http://www.main.gov.by/ru/www_arh/
ROLE OF SPATIAL PLANNING TO PROMOTE SECURITY OF TENURE: This WPLA workshop will be held in Antalya, Turkey, in the autumn of 2010 (dates to be confirmed). For more information, contact: Ariel Ivanier, UNECE Secretariat; +41 22 917 1357; fax: +41 22 917 0107; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Internet: http://www.unece.org/hlm/