Building Sustainable Cities & Communities:

The New Urban Agenda

Housing, in particular building sustainable cities and communities, is at the centre of key issues such as:

  • Poverty reduction
  • Employment opportunities
  • Education
  • Crime reduction
  • Health

Housing is also a key factor contributing to economic growth, addressing energy consumption and fostering resilience.

Getting ready for an urbanised world

Habitat for Humanity believes in the importance of Housing at the Center of the New Urban Agenda (NUA).  If we are to tackle the challenges brought on by a rapidly urbanising global population, housing should be a high priority for all levels of governments.

Housing should be addressed holistically, as both an integral and integrating element of sound urban development practice and urban policies. Housing also relies on a broader enabling environment, investments and resources to fully foster strength, stability and self-reliance.

Housing needs to be recognised as process rather than a product. House builders and urban planners need to do more than simply build large quantities of housing, and focus as well on addressing the 7 elements of the Right to Adequate Housing:

  • Security of tenure
  • Availability of services
  • Affordability
  • Accessibility
  • Location
  • Cultural adequacy.

secure land rights for sustainable communities

We need to look at housing broadly, unpacking and addressing the elements that make a home a home. We need to recognise that addressing housing addresses the three dimensions of sustainable urban development:

  • Social

Housing is key to poverty reduction and supports the attaining of the Sustainable Development Goals, a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. Housing is the site of social and cultural production and reproduction, familial and childhood development.  Housing affordability and location are key. Also, mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhoods contribute to developing communal and neighborhood bonds; promote street life and interaction through focus on human, rather than vehicle, scale development.

  • Economic

Investment in housing has an economic multiplier effect, generating jobs, stimulating productivity in other economic sectors, and contributing to capital formation, asset creation, labor productivity, income, employment generation and savings.  From this perspective it is important to recognise the roles that multiple actors play in the different ways through which families and communities access housing, including the informal economy.

  • Environmental

Housing close to employment/transport hub reduces vehicle dependence, reduces pollution; promotes housing designs with low embodied energy and low energy consumption.  It is important to recognise, however, that buildings are also contributors to CO2 emissions, and as such they are also a key part of the solution.

Solid Ground Global Advocacy Campaign

After identifying access to land for shelter as the greatest obstacle to realising our vision of world in which everyone has a decent place to live, Habitat launched Solid Ground, a global advocacy campaign to address the issue of land for shelter.

Access to land lies at the heart of ending poverty – without land, there can be no housing and housing is the key to stability and opportunity.

The Solid Ground campaign is a set of advocacy, communications and mobilisation activities that will influence norms, policies and practices to achieve lasting change. There are four sub-themes:

  • Secure tenure is the ability to live without fear of eviction. 75% of land worldwide is not legally documented. With security of tenure, people invest more in their homes and their futures.
  • Gender equality is vital because women are disproportionately affected by land access issues, routinely and systematically denied their rights to land.
  • Slum upgrading is critical as the world urbanises. By 2030, nearly 1 in every 4 people will live in a slum.
  • Disaster resilience is essential, as nearly 200 million people per year are affected by disasters. Without proper land laws in place, people lose their homes and their ability to recover.

Through Solid Ground, we are mobilising existing supporters and new allies to motivate policymakers at all levels of government to change land policies and systems, inclusive of the four subthemes, to ensure that more people around the world will have a decent place to live.

gender equality women's right to property land

Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter

Habitat for Humanity is launching the Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter to grow and expand its work with housing market systems by supporting local firms and expanding innovative and client-responsive services, products and financing to enable over 8 million people to access improved shelter solutions by 2020.

This announcement will represent one of Habitat’s key commitments toward the implementation of the New Urban Agenda. CEO Jonathan Reckford will describe how by enhancing the supply and demand side of housing market systems by mobilising flows of capital to the housing sector and serving as facilitators and advisors to market actors, we can catalyse a market response for affordable and adequate housing.

Our approach of catalysing markets has shown extremely positive results. Only in the last three years, the numerous market-driven programs that Habitat had implemented, had tripled the number of families that have been able to improve their shelter more effectively and efficiently.

The Terwilliger Center exists to work with housing market systems by supporting local firms and expanding innovative and client-responsive services, products and financing so that households can improve their shelter conditions more effectively and efficiently.

The centre works to enhance the supply and demand sides of housing market systems through a two-pronged approach: mobilise the flow of capital to the housing sector and serve as facilitator and adviser to market actors.

It also advances the knowledge around housing markets by conducting research studies, creating publications, developing tool kits, and scheduling public appearances that foster impact in the sector.

Take Action

Sign up

Sign up to our newsletter to be the first to know when we publish new stories and appeals
Read more



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *