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UNECE member States endorse Charter on Sustainable Housing

Countries in the region are facing enormous challenges in providing adequate housing to all, especially to vulnerable groups such as the young and the elderly. Uncontrolled urbanization has expanded informal settlements, where residents often lack security of tenure, infrastructure, water, sanitation, and other public services. 

According to UNECE studies, housing is the least affordable human right. 100 million people in the UNECE region spend more than 40 per cent of their disposable income on housing. High housing costs leave limited resources for low-income households to cover other basic needs, such as food, health, clothing and transportation, making other human rights increasingly unaffordable.

To help countries address these problems, member States in UNECE developed the Geneva UN Charter on Sustainable Housing which was endorsed at the 66th session of the Commission.

UNECE Executive Secretary Christian Friis Bach stressed that the Charter will be an important tool to support the implementation of the expected Sustainable Development Goal on cities and human settlements. “The Charter is the expression of the political will of our 56 member States to ensure a high quality life to their citizens through the provision of adequate, safe, healthy housing and sustainable cities.   We will make it available to all UN member States at the HABITAT III Conference”, he said.  

The main purpose of this historical document on sustainable housing is to ensure the access to decent, affordable and healthy housing in the UNECE region. The charter is based on 4 key principles: environmental protection, economic effectiveness, social inclusion and participation, and cultural adequacy.

The implementation of the Charter will be assisted through the preparation of country profiles on housing and land management, the organisation of national urban policy dialogues in economies in transition and bi-annual regional reports on housing and urban development, which will allow benchmarking the achievements of countries in the region in implementing the Charter principles.

The Charter will be forwarded to the Third Global Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development – HABITAT III, (Quito, Ecuador, October 2016), which will adopt the “New Urban Agenda”.
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or contact:

Gulnara Roll
Head, Housing and Land Management Unit
Email: [email protected]
Telephone: +41 (0)22 917 22 57

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United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

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