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Asia-Pacific Housing Forum discusses innovative, sustainable solutions to affordable homes

Sep 23. 2019
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By THE NATION

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With the theme “Powering collaboration for housing impact”, industry leaders and a host of others in the sector gathered at the Asia-Pacific Housing Forum in Bangkok last week to find innovative and sustainable solutions to the massive issues confronting millions of low-income families and communities in the climate-vulnerable Asia-Pacific region.

“The reality is housing is far too complex,” Habitat for Humanity CEO Jonathan Reckford said in the opening speech. “Confronted by the housing crisis, we have a collective responsibility to raise awareness that there are solutions and to engage people in many ways. We need to raise the bar and make connections between housing and health, housing and education, housing and livelihoods. Housing is not the only need for families, but a requisite and a foundation that allows a child to stay healthy, get educated, and become self-sufficient over time.”

The Asia-Pacific Housing Forum has served as a platform to amplify why housing matters. 

“We need a strong community of organisations and individuals from across the region in order to initiate solutions for the housing shortage in the Asia Pacific,” Hilti Foundation president Egbert Appel said. “Networks represent the power of collaboration.

“Working in networks might be challenging because you have to coordinate organisations, different cultures, different ideas, different objectives and people. In this approach, everyone contributes their own strength, excellence, and competence,” he added. 

Ananda Development CEO Chanond Ruangkritya recognised the importance of understanding the link between solving the construction and land equation by having conversations on the use of exponential technology, and using platforms for innovators at the local level.

“When we talk about urban solutions, we look at urbanisation in the next decades when two-thirds of humanity will be living in cities. It is the biggest migration of humanity that we will see in the next 30 years, and most of that will be around Asia. This problem is also the world’s biggest opportunity. We look at how we solve this problem with organisations such as Habitat for Humanity, looking at demand and supply, scarcity of these resources, and see how you turn scarcity into abundance,” Chanond said. 

Forum participants discussed key issues around the housing ecosystem – impact investing, market systems, social inclusion, disaster resilience, people-centered innovation and technology – with experts, industry leaders and other stakeholders in the region and around the world.

The four-day forum, held from September 16 to 19, included the Innovation Awards, a training course on Strengthening Land Tenure Security for Disaster Resilience, and two Urban Thinkers Campus events – the Youth Congress and the Urban Housing Practitioners Hub. These are in support of the World Urban Campaign that promotes the New Urban Agenda and United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

Organised by global housing non-profit Habitat for Humanity, the forum taps into the extensive network of expertise brought by partners from the private, public and social sectors. 

The forum had the strong support of Ananda Development, Hilti Foundation, Aditya Birla Group, HMTX Industries, Cities Alliance, Global Land Tool Network, USG Boral and Ayala Corporation. It had a host of partners including UN-Habitat as a strategic partner, ITC-University of Twente as a knowledge partner and media partners Devex, Asian NGO and Place of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

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