The current model of urbanisation will not change unless there is social and political change. The annual UEF examines cities that are moving toward more just, equitable, resilient and sustainable models and provides a platform for cities and urban settlements to share and learn from each other so that no one is left behind.

The 3rd Urban Economy Forum, UEF 2021, will have a systematic focus on how to deliver adequate and affordable housing and healthy environments as core pillars for urban economic recovery to deliver sustainable cities and achieve the SDGs. UEF 2021 will focus on housing as one of the key elements for urban equality, and as a practical arena for shifting societal behaviour in a world affected by climate change and pandemics. There are a number of good practices for effective and scalable solutions being adopted by the people most impacted by COVID-19, who are least likely to have a steady place to call home and most affected by the damage to our climate.

“Every global crisis teaches us many lessons that we learn the hard way. One of the easiest lessons of this pandemic is that a safe shelter from danger must also be a healthy one” —- Sarah Elizabeth & Antosluis Triveno. The reason billions can’t safely shelter at home?, Housing, World Bank Blog

In the process of realizing SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities) and the New Urban Agenda signed in Quito (2016), UEF 2021 will work to initiate dialogues related to the concept of housing and the economy, understanding that many targets, such as the SDGs and the Paris Agreement, are covered by housing solutions. The forum will make critical connections between housing and the real estate markets from social, economic and ecological perspectives and will work toward an urban transformation for urban sustainability and shared prosperity. The forum will examine the role of housing for urban recovery and for building resilient urban economies in a post-covid-19 world. The importance of investing in housing as a tool for recovery cannot be understated. The Third Urban Economy Forum will expound the whole spectrum of solutions ranging from purely market-oriented approaches to community organizations’ initiatives focusing on durable, affordable housing for under-resourced communities, the most vulnerable to the vagaries of climate change.

To achieve this, urban stakeholders, including local and national governments, non-governmental organisations, private sector and civil society have an important role to play in exploring how to achieve higher inclusion and sustainability. This new paradigm will inevitably need to challenge existing norms, legislative systems, practices and alliances. New foundations and frameworks will be needed, such as more democratic economic models that allow for wealth creation that is retained locally and invested back into local community facilities such as housing. Housing policies need to be based on the principle of housing as a human right rather than a commodity. Consequences resulting from the pandemic has pronounced the importance of this perspective. For example, the high unemployment rates, due to COVID-19, has caused many households to not meet their mortgage liabilities. This is increasingly challenging the financial stability of housing loans. More than anything the role of affordable housing strategies and financing instruments become critical in the post pandemic urban world. As well, in the context of the economy, having a better knowledge on the best way to interact with financial institutions and to work with them is required for cities and financial institutions to work together in harmony.

“While relatively affluent households have been able to retreat to their homes and work remotely during this crisis, millions of low-income households have lost their jobs and fallen behind on their rent or mortgage payments. Many of these households had housing cost burdens even before the crisis hit and are now facing the potential loss of their homes.” —- The State of the Nation’s Housing 2020, Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies

Exploring the relationship of housing and urban transition to healthy, equal and net zero cities is crucial to maximize the benefits of urbanization, protect the built environment, preserve cultural heritage, give value to tangible and intangible assets, produce local jobs, and integrate inclusive solutions with higher levels of prosperity and local development. UEF 2021 will be an open arena to share a needed vision for a paradigm shift to instill an understanding that housing is essential to public goods like clean air, clean water, health and education.



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