Get Housing Finance on the New Urban Agenda

Next week, governments from around the world will meet in Surabaya, Indonesia, to discuss the current draft of the New Urban Agenda – the main document that will emerge from Habitat III, to be held in Quito, Equador, in October this year.  The current version of the document, “Zero Draft Revision 18 July 2016” has evolved from a first draft prepared by UN Habitat and debated in informal consultations in New York. The revised draft will be formally discussed by governments at the Habitat III Preparatory Committee meeting in Surabaya, Indonesia next week, 25 – 27 July. If it is sufficiently complete, then it will be sent directly to the conference in Quito for final debate and approval. If there is a need for further engagement, then it may go back for more discussion in New York.

According to UN Habitat, “the New Urban Agenda aims to be a concise, action-oriented, forward-looking, and universal framework of actions for housing and sustainable urban development. The publication of this draft opens the next chapter of the Habitat III roadmap.”  It is a very important document.

As such, we are concerned that the New Urban Agenda makes no reference to housing finance – neither mortgages, mini-mortgages nor housing microfinance, nor construction finance, nor the need to mobilise this type of finance from development agencies, DFIs, banks, peoples savings organisations, credit unions, and so on. While there are references to finance for sustainable urbanisation, infrastructure, local government and so on, there is no specific reference to housing finance. This is in serious contrast to the Habitat Agenda 1996 and must be rectified before the document gets to Quito.

To ensure that the issues critical to each of us in promoting housing finance globally, in Africa, and in each of our countries are addressed, we urge each of you to please contact your governments, and specifically the delegations from your countries that are participating next week in Surabaya, and encourage them to put housing finance on the New Urban Agenda. 

Specifically, we encourage you to note the following, which is drawn from the “Durban Declaration” resolved by the members of the African Union for Housing Finance at their Annual General Meeting in Durban, South Africa, on 28 October 2015:

As members of the AUHF we understand:

  • Housing finance is a critical link in the housing delivery value chain
  • Housing affordability is a fundamental challenge that cannot be overlooked
  • The mortgage instrument is a useful tool for making housing affordable, but it will not serve the housing needs of the majority.
  • There is a desperate need for the scale delivery of housing solutions.
  • Policy is fundamental to efficient housing finance systems
  • Private investors, lenders and DFIs are powerful players.
  • The complexity of the housing process makes partnerships a necessity.

As the AUHF members, we urge governments to address the following critical challenges

  • Transparent land management systems
  • Investment in infrastructure and serviced land for housing
  • Attention to the housing impact of macro-economic and monetary policy
  • Accommodation of non-mortgage, housing microfinance as a viable and central component of a national housing finance framework
  • Consistent national housing policy and regulatory framework

As the AUHF members, we commit ourselves to:

  • The development of appropriate housing and housing finance products that are affordable to our populations, that respond appropriately to the reality of informality, and that contribute effectively towards adequate housing for all, across our nations.
  • The mobilisation of capital resources, long term and in local currencies, debt and equity, with the appropriate risk underpins and supportive frameworks to encourage the participation of a diverse range of investors across the range of housing solutions, and to enable developers to grow their capacity to operate at scale.
  • The realisation of scale delivery that meets the growing demands for housing with realistic, affordable products, including the delivery of affordable, well-managed rental housing at scale.
  • The establishment, and consolidation, of sustainable and robust institutions throughout the housing supply chain, and the provision of capacity support, technical assistance and professional development.
  • The collection, analysis and dissemination of evidence based information on effective housing finance practice and the performance of the housing market. In this, we are committed to sharing best practice and building track records that can be monitored on an ongoing basis, setting benchmarks for our peers and one another, in support of more effective housing markets across the continent.
  • Increased dialogue and engagement between the public and private sectors, at a local, national, regional, continental and international level.
  • Working in collaboration with each other, and other stakeholders, whether in the public or private sectors, to promote the realisation of sustainable human settlements across Africa.

The commitments of AUHF members set out in the Durban Declaration are not insubstantial, and would go a long way in supporting governments in their efforts to realise their commitments in the New Urban Agenda, if the challenges raised in the declaration were also addressed.  The AUHF will continue to input into the Habitat III preparatory process in the hopes that a productive collaboration between the public and private sectors in realising the New Urban Agenda is realised.  We hope you will help us in this effort.

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