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Towards a UNECE-wide policy framework on affordable, healthy and ecological housing


Urban areas in the UNECE region are increasingly facing challenges of ensuring access to affordable housing and improving energy efficiency and environmental soundness of dwellings. Housing shortages are experienced in many countries in the region; carbon footprints from dwellings remain too high, with buildings being responsible for over a third of total final energy consumption; and homes are often unhealthy environment to live in. These challenges are amplified by other severe problems faced by the world, in particular climate change and limited energy supplies. Such problems, if not properly addressed, endanger social cohesion and have a potential negative impact on economic productivity, political stability and the sustainability of our environment. They also require much more coordination between the sovereign states, than we have it today.

Meeting in Geneva for its seventy-first session (20–21 September 2010), the Committee on Housing and Land Management discussed the document “Principles and Goals for Affordable, Healthy and Ecological Housing” and decided to set up a Working Group to explore possible options for a legally binding instrument on affordable, healthy and ecological housing in the UNECE region. As outlined in this document, a UNECE-wide policy framework could increase the legitimacy and visibility of the housing sector as a key component of a country’s sustainable development.

To provide guidance for attaining the goals of ecological housing, member States also adopted an “Action Plan for Energy-efficient Housing in the UNECE Region”. The Action Plan outlines policy areas for action and contains a range of targets and measures that member States can adapt and implement right now with a view to removing barriers to energy efficiency and moving towards a low-energy and carbon-neutral housing sector.

Urban areas are not only the main contributor to climate change; they are also themselves vulnerable to its adverse effects. Therefore, reducing CO2 emissions in cities and helping them to become more resilient to climatic challenges should be an integral part of climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts. A study on “Climate Neutral Cities” to be prepared by the end of 2010 will promote an integrated cross-sectoral approach to urban development that includes housing, land use management, energy efficiency, transportation, waste management and green areas. The discussion of the outline of this study showcased a number of advanced planning strategies and urban management practices focused on achieving the goals of low-energy, low-carbon and highly resilient cities.

The Committee also decided to undertake a country profile on the housing sector of Ukraine, which would include land administration issues.

For more information on the seventy-first session of the CHLM, please see: http://www.iisd.ca/ymb/unece/hlm71/

The official report of the session will be released shortly on the UNECE website.  

For more information, please contact:

Mr. Serhii Yampolskyi

Secretary to the Committee on Housing and Land Management

UNECE Environment, Housing and Land Management Division

Tel: +41 (0)22 917 3663

Ref: ECE/ENV/10/P27