The housing sector has a critical role to play in ensuring the success of economic and social development in the UNECE region and the reform process in countries in transition. At the same time, the process of transition to a market economy has had a profound impact on housing policy implementation and management.
The Committee on Housing and Land Management initiated the Country Profiles project in 1994 (Pilot project proposal, September 1994). This project represents a tool for Governments to analyse their housing policies, strategies, institutional and financial frameworks for the housing sector and to compare the progress made internationally. The project is a high priority for the Committee.
At its 62nd session the Committee reviewed the implementation of the recommendations of the Country Profiles, discussed the usefulness of the study and possible future follow-up activities (Report on the 62nd Session, ECE/HBP/122 para IV B).
The country profile is a process-oriented exercise. At its core is an analytical study on the housing sector, drafted by independent international experts. Recommendations for improving policies and practices are an essential part of the programme. It also aims to provide information to potential investors.
The Profiles constitute a strategic analysis of a country's entire housing sector. The study covers five major areas: (i) the framework for the housing sector transition; (ii) the existing housing stock and new housing construction; (iii) the institutional framework; (iv) the legal framework; and (v) the financial framework.
As a voluntary exercise, the Country Profile study is undertaken only at the request of the country itself. The Committee or its Bureau then selects a country from the list of applicants. The project starts with a compilation of relevant data on the housing sector of the country to be reviewed. An international team of experts from all over Europe, including countries in transition, is then formed.
The conduct of the country profile exercise is enabled by an extra budgetary fund, to which a number of UNECE member countries contribute. Some member countries have also provided experts as a contribution in kind to the project.
The project involves a preparatory mission and a research mission of the team of international experts to the country under review. In the host country, the team also interviews officials, experts, NGOs, international organizations and their project personnel, and visits development sites.
The study is published in English and translated to the national languages for distribution to interested parties.
The Country Profiles on the housing sector were prepared and published for Bulgaria (1996), Poland (1998), Slovakia (1999), Lithuania (2000), Romania (2001), the Republic of Moldova (2002), Albania (2002), Armenia and the Russian Federation (2004), Serbia and Montenegro (2006), Georgia (2007), Belarus (2008), Kyrgyzstan (2010), Azerbaijan (2010) and Tajikistan (2011).