The 9th meeting of the Housing Partnership took place in Geneva on 9 and 10 November, 2017 and revolved around three main axes:
- International links of the Partnership’s work
The meeting was organised as a side event to the celebration of the 70 years of the UNECE Committee on Housing and Land Management. Members of the Housing Partnership had the opportunity to join in the anniversary programme of this important regional structure of the United Nations. Elena Szolgayová, Ministry of Housing of Slovakia, said that “the meeting of the EU Housing Partnership in the frame of the UNECE and moreover its Committee on Housing and Land management was an important step further to inform a broader community about the work of the Housing Partnership, even beyond the EU´s borders.” Thus, the Partnership carried out a full analysis of their contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda of the UN. The meeting also offered a good occasion to reiterate the necessity to revive the format of the Housing Focal Points on Member State level.
In a joint working session on Friday, the Partnership on Housing and the Housing Focal Point Meeting of EU Member States met to discuss the ongoing implementation of approved UN and EU documents. Dr. Orna Rosenfeld, scientific expert of the Housing Partnership, carried out the analysis and assessed the potential of the EU Urban Agenda Partnership on Housing to contribute to the implementation of the EU international commitments noted in the Pact of Amsterdam, including the UN Sustainable Development Goals (Agenda 2030), New Urban Agenda (Habitat III) and Paris Climate Agreement among other important UN documents. During the presentation of the results, she highlighted that the Partnership on Housing has a significant capacity to contribute to the implementation of the EU international commitments through its work. Her findings show that the Partnership has the potential to advance achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal 11 (Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable) focusing on cities in general and its target 11.1 addressing housing in particular (Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable). Furthermore, it can help advance two articles of Paris climate agreement. Clearly, the most important point of reference is the New Urban Agenda decided in Quito at the Habitat III conference in 2016. Significantly, Dr. Rosenfeld pointed out: “the Housing Partnership has the potential to help achieve19 out of 24 New Urban Agenda articles dedicated to housing through its work', one of the most exemplary being article 107. “We will encourage developing policies, tools, mechanisms, and financing models that promote access to a wide range of affordable, sustainable housing options including rental and other tenure options, as well as cooperative solutions such as co-housing, community land trust, and other forms of collective tenure, that would address the evolving needs of persons and communities, in order to improve the supply of housing […]” (for further information please click here to access Dr. Orna Rosenfeld’s presentation).
- Linkage between the Partnership on Housing and EU Member States
Members of the Partnership on Housing and the Housing Focal Points also took note of the information on the report “The State of Housing in the EU 2017” of Housing Europe by Alice Pittini, which gives an excellent overview about the situation of housing and affordability of housing in Europe. Interactive discussion groups of the Partnership members and representatives of the Member States followed this agenda point, with a focus on the past and future work of the Partnership and its subgroups on State Aid, Finances & Funding and General Housing Policy. Both sides felt this exchange to be fruitful and important. It offered a good occasion to reiterate the necessity to revive the format of the Housing Focal Points on MS level.
- The progress made in the Action Plan of the Partnership
Subgroups were able to further pursue their issues. The subgroup on state aid developed a draft programme for a capacity building workshop on state aid and started a discussion about VAT related issues, initiated by Poznan. Subgroup on general housing policy discussed several issues, amongst them the next steps of the “toolkit for affordable housing” and a possible testing opportunity in a “policy lab”, to be followed in the months to come. The subgroup on finances worked on the recommendations to improve housing conditions in old and new Member States.
The meeting in Geneva prepared the implementation of existing and saw the emergence of new actions, and generated important findings in the field of governance and international links, said coordinator Michaela Kauer, City of Vienna. The Partnership took note of the workplan for 2018, with upcoming working sessions in Lisbon, Luxemburg, Ljubljana and Vienna. Members were informed about important feedback from the public presentation of the first deliveries of the Partnership, as well as from remarks received from the MS at UDG and DGUM level and the internal consultation of the Commission services. “Our action plan will continue to be fed in by the works of our subgroups until the second half of 2018” informed Szolgayová and Kauer, the two coordinators. “A final result will be published officially after approval of all our members by the end of next year, as foreseen in the Pact of Amsterdam”.
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