Habitat III Event: No Time to Waste: An Inter-active Dialogue Applying the Lessons from Latin America’s 50 Years of Housing Policies to Rapidly Urbanizing Countries

During the Habitat III conference in Quito, IHC Global celebrated the official release of a new publication entitled “No Time to Waste: Applying the Lessons from Latin America’s 50 Years of Housing Policies to Rapidly Urbanizing Countries” by Eduardo Rojas, former lead urban specialist at the Inter-American Development Bank. At an event at the Next City World Stage on Tuesday morning, Rojas discussed two key findings of his paper.

Eduardo Rojas shares key findings from his paper.

First, that housing policy matters, but that not all policies and programs are equally effective.Many strategies that have been employed often, such as isolated low-income housing programs, are ineffective, while others that may have been looked on disfavorably, such as incremental approaches to housing, can actually be part of the solution. Second, Rojas noted that housing cannot be approached in an isolated manner, but must go hand in hand with urban planning in order to be effective.  Following his presentation, four respondents reacted to the report and conversed about how its findings can be applied to other country contexts. Margartia Greene from Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile applauded the paper for highlighting the importance of conceiving of housing and planning efforts together, but noted that the paper could have done more to discuss the effects of climate change and the housing lessons that can be learned after climate-related disasters.

Panelists Kirtee Shah, Catalina Marulanda, Margarita Greene, and Hayder Ali respond to Rojas’ paper.

Catalina Marulanda from the World Bank stressed the importance of community engagement in housing projects, and affirmed the need to recognize the social dimensions of housing developments, as they facilitate the development of neighborhoods and communities. Kirtee Shah from KSA Design Planning Services shared the Indian perspective, noting the urgency of housing efforts in the Indian context due to the country’s rapid urbanization. Finally, Hayder Ali from the International Union of Architects and a practicing architect from Sudan, shared that the Sudanese government uses land as a commodity, and noted that civil society in Sudan can learn much from the Latin American example. The event led to a rich discussion about the importance of consistent, integrated, and practical housing policy that recognizes that housing is fundamentally about people.


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