Habitat for Humanity’s #APHousingForum underscores the need to strengthen collaboration for housing and climate action ahead of World Habitat Day
Oct 04, 2019

Manila, 04 October 2019 --( ASIA TODAY )-- Held in the lead up to World Habitat Day on October 7, the Asia-Pacific Housing Forum emphasized the importance of collaboration in the areas of land tenure, disaster resilience, social inclusion, people-centered technologies, market systems, public-private partnerships, and impact investing. These are all essential in advancing decent and adequate housing in a fast-urbanizing but climate-vulnerable Asia-Pacific region, home to millions of people living in slums and substandard housing.

Rick Hathaway, Habitat for Humanity Asia-Pacific vice president said, "As we move forward, let's leave everyone stronger -- let's keep the people-centered spirit of the housing forum alive – connecting and building relationships between and among the people we serve and the people who can influence. We are capable of doing many amazing things in collaboration so we can serve more families together through housing."

The 4-day Asia-Pacific Housing Forum, brought together more than 600 delegates comprised of youth, advocates, housing leaders and industry experts to discuss the future of housing -- identifying pressing challenges and opportunities to create impact with the power of collaboration and innovation. This purpose aligns to the intent of World Habitat Day to remind people that they have the power and the responsibility to shape the future of their cities and communities.

Thailand’s Than Phu Ying Sirikitiya Jensen, daughter of Her Royal Highness Princess Ubol Ratana Rajakanya, welcomed the participants, sharing that housing builds identity, culture and heritage that are closely linked to the improved quality of life. “The housing structures, the tangible and intangible go together. These homes exist because people built them. People have to feel ownership over their heritage and over the structures they have. This is an important connection that we should not forget.”

Moreover, the Asia-Pacific Housing Forum Innovation Awards recognized emerging work in the categories of construction innovation, community initiatives and spatial planning, partnerships and policies. The three winners: Pounamu Bamboo Construction from Myanmar, GreenAntz, and Primary Skills Educational Foundation, Inc. both from the Philippines, were among 60 submissions received from startup enterprises, civil society organizations, private institutions, and government units.

Innovation Award winner and PSEFI-SKILLS President and COO Paulette Liu shared the importance of building the construction skills of low-income families and communities: “To build disaster-resilient homes, we need to address the urgent need for multi-skilled construction professionals in disaster-prone Philippines,” in a country with a housing backlog of 6 million.

A Land Training Course and an Urban Thinkers Campus, both side events at the Forum, brought urban housing practitioners together to plant the seeds for a regional network to promote sustained actions and creative solutions that contribute to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 11 - building sustainable cities and communities.

Puja Sawhney, Key Expert for South Asia at the EU-funded SWITCH-Asia Sustainable Consumption and Production Facility shared some UTC outcomes: “We want to explore the possibility of accelerating housing innovations through collaborative sub-regional and cross-sectoral networks, initiatives and mechanisms for sharing products, processes and data to shape and drive regional policy agenda for housing and strengthen stakeholders’ capacity in the Asia-Pacific region."

The Forum also showcased strong voices from women leaders advocating for climate action and housing solutions.

Landscape architect and Asia-Pacific Housing Forum speaker, Kotchakorn Voraakhom shared her key takeaways: “Understanding the landscape on how we can make housing more resilient, I met so many players in the industry with similar aims and it's good to find integrated solutions, either in terms of policy and technology. Learning from other countries, we can both share problems and come up with better solutions for housing."

Voraakhom was recently recognized by TIME magazine in their “2050: The Fight for Earth” issue as one of 15 women leading the fight against climate change.

Tongan youth leader Ana Malia Falemaka shared about their concern as climate crisis and extreme weather continue to threaten their island communities. “Now, people in the Pacific are living in constant fear – wondering if their houses will survive the next storm, wondering if the storm will take the whole island. The youth are taking action; they are bringing the fight to our world leaders.” Falemaka was among the 95 delegates of the Youth Congress that saw the soft launch of the Participatory Approach for Safe Shelter and Settlement Awareness - PASSA - Youth digital platform, a tool that can be used to build community resilience together with the youth.

“The key to collaboration is in our hearts. The home is the starting place of love and hope. We should set aside our differences and focus our energy in creating a safe environment,” Falemaka added.

Organized by global housing non-profit Habitat for Humanity, the Forum taps on the extensive network of expertise brought by partners from the private, public and social sectors including Ananda Development, Hilti Foundation, Aditya Birla Group, HMTX Industries, UN-Habitat, Cities Alliance, and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

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About the Asia-Pacific Housing Forum
The Asia-Pacific Housing Forum is a biennial conference organized by Habitat for Humanity, connecting stakeholders engaged in finding solutions for inadequate shelter issues and promoting affordable housing as a driver of economic growth. Since 2007, the event has brought together close to 5,000 participants, and is supported by UN-Habitat, Cities Alliance, IFRC, Arup, World Bank, Hilti Foundation, the University of New South Wales and other sector organizations. The seventh Asia-Pacific Housing Forum with the theme “Powering collaboration for housing impact” will be held from September 16 to 19 in Bangkok, Thailand. Lead in country events will take place in Bangladesh, New Zealand, Cambodia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia and the Philippines from April to July. Visit aphousingforum.org for more details.

About Habitat for Humanity
Driven by the vision that everyone needs a decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity began in 1976 as a grassroots effort. The Christian housing organization has since grown to become a leading global nonprofit working in more than 70 countries. In the Asia-Pacific region since 1983, Habitat for Humanity has supported millions of people to build or improve a place they can call home. Through financial support, volunteering or adding a voice to support affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves. Through shelter, we empower. To learn more, donate or volunteer, visit habitat.org/asiapacific.

Senior Specialist, Media Relations and Disaster Communications, Asia-Pacific, Habitat for Humanity International
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