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Sustainable, People-centered Solutions For Affordable Housing To Take Center Stage At Eighth Asia-Pacific Housing Forum

The Asia-Pacific Housing Forum taking place from December 7 to 9 highlights the urgent need to build sustainable, inclusive, and affordable housing, in a region where millions of people live in extreme poverty below the threshold of US$1.90 a day and where communities continue to grapple with the health and economic impact of COVID-19.

Even before the pandemic, there were 1.6 billion people in need of adequate shelter. The global health crisis has put a spotlight on the critical importance of having a home to stay safe and healthy. However, it remains that vulnerable populations, those unable to cope amid the pandemic, are the ones most impacted by the economic shocks, the threat of natural and manmade disasters, and the negative effects of climate change.

"The Asia-Pacific Housing Forum's main theme of 'building forward better through inclusive housing' means that each one of us, especially the most vulnerable families we serve through housing solutions, has a voice in the process and a role to play in increasing access to a decent place to live," said Luis Noda, Habitat for Humanity's Asia-Pacific vice president. "We must center our actions on the needs of the people to truly build in a greener, safer, more resilient way."

The virtual conference will be attended by various stakeholders and actors across the housing ecosystem and serves as a platform for the exchange and sharing of, experiences, technologies, innovations, and solutions.

The forum's four tracks are Build resilient cities and communities; Innovative housing solutions and technologies; Advance sustainability in the housing sector; and Finance affordable housing. Economic growth, and climate change adaptation remain cross-cutting themes through the tracks.

The resilient cities and communities track looks at how governments and sectoral stakeholders can work together towards a more sustainable urban future. The track on innovative housing solutions and technologies explores the various ways we can achieve affordable housing through innovation and technology.

The track on sustainability in the housing sector looks at the different approaches to advance and harmonize the environmental, social, cultural, and economic dimensions of housing to ensure equitable cities and communities. The last track --finance affordable housing -- will focus on the financing instruments of different actors in both public and private sectors that fund affordable housing.

Recently, Habitat for Humanity released a report titled "A Ladder Up: The construction sector's role in creating jobs and rebuilding emerging market economies" authored by economists at the Universities of Pennsylvania, Southern California, and Washington. The report states that every $1 million in construction output creates an average of 97 jobs across the countries studied, with 165 jobs per $1 million in the Philippines, and 182 jobs per $1 million in India. These findings are relevant for low- and middle-income countries deciding on areas to prioritize as they work to build back economies weakened by the pandemic.

Thailand, being a fast emerging economy, investing in residential construction may represent a potential win because of possible large number of jobs it can create locally. From 2018 to 2019, the poverty rate in Thailand dropped to 6.2%, according to the World Bank. However, in 2020, the poverty rate increased to 8.8% due to the impact of COVID-19.

The Asia-Pacific Housing Forum is organized by Habitat for Humanity, in collaboration with the European Union-funded SWITCH-Asia Sustainable Consumption and Production Facility.

Register for the virtual Asia-Pacific Housing Forum from December 7 to 9 at aphousingforum.org/registration/.

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