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Albania, Estonia and the United Kingdom push the sustainable housing agenda through the establishment of Geneva UN Charter Centres

Published: 13 September 2016

The 2008 global financial and economic crisis underscored the vital role that stable and transparent housing markets play in a country’s economy. As a result of the crisis, some countries have experienced disturbing imbalances in their housing markets with foreclosures, homelessness, excess housing stock and a lack of affordable housing. There are more than 100 million people in the UNECE region currently spending more than 40% of their income on housing. Especially vulnerable to the current housing situation are young people with 48% of people aged 18-29 still living with their parents.

Albania, Estonia and the United Kingdom are announcing an initiative to tackle this problem with the creation of Geneva UN Charter Centres in Tirana, Tallinn and Glasgow. The Geneva UN Charter on Sustainable Housing, endorsed by the UNECE Committee of Housing and Land Management in 2014, supports countries in their efforts to ensure access to decent, adequate, affordable and healthy housing for all.

These three Centres will play a crucial role in promoting the four principles of the Charter: environmental protection, economic effectiveness, social inclusion and participation, and cultural adequacy, depending on their specialization and available expertise at host institutions, the Centres will work at national and/or international level and on topics covered by the Charter.

The first Geneva UN Charter Centre was established earlier this year in Estonia in cooperation with the Estonian Union of Co-operative Housing Associations (EKYL). EKYL is specialized in the development of training programs for housing management in individual ownership and provides expertise to adapt solutions specifically in regions where housing has been largely privatized. According to the EKYL Chairman Mr. Andres Jaadla, with the establishment of the centre, EKYL will have even greater opportunities to provide trainings to experts from other countries, especially those with economies in transition.

As a next step, a network of Geneva UN Charter Centres (Centres) will be established under the coordination of UNECE, to allow for the exchange of experience and best practices, and to promote cooperation and knowledge-sharing within the network.

The range of activities of the Centres will include: active dissemination of information on the Charter and its principles through publications, mass media, and national and local events, advisory services, capacity-building at international. national and local levels (organization of training, implementation of pilot projects, etc.), networking, including with cities, regions, homeowner associations and other stakeholders; studies on the implementation of the Charter and best practices of the implementation of non-legally binding conventions; research on topics which will contribute to the better implementation of the Charter; and collection and exchange of information on best practice on Charter implementation.

For more information on the project, contact:

Gulnara Roll
Head, Housing and Land Management Unit
Forests, Land and Housing Division
United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

Email: gulnara.roll@unece.org
Tel:  +41 (0) 22 917 22 57
Fax: +41 (0) 22 917 00 41

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

Information Unit

Palais des Nations, 

CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Tel.: +41 (0) 22 917 44 44

Fax: +41 (0) 22 917 05 05