UN-HABITAT and the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe signed a co-operation agreement this week paving the way for improving urban development and social housing in southeast Europe.
Officials said the new Regional Capacity Strengthening Programme for Urban Development and Housing in South Eastern Europe (RCSP), signed by the two parties came into being primarily because economically motivated rural-urban migration flows was putting enormous pressure on urban housing markets. Given the scale growing urbanization and socio-economic challenges such as access to affordable shelter and social infrastructure, and environmental risks ranging from landslides to water pollution, they said the implementation of responsive housing policies and tools for sustainable urban development is of paramount importance.
The Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe was adopted by European Union initiative in 1999 with the aim of strengthening the countries in southeastern Europe “in their efforts to foster peace, democracy, respect for human rights and economic prosperity in order to achieve stability in the whole region”.
“The RCSP will support SEE countries in furthering essential reforms in the area of social housing and urban development in general and thus contribute to economic growth, a more equitable distribution of social and economic opportunities and environmental sustainability,” said the Special Coordinator of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe, Mr. Erhard Busek. He said the idea was to help countries in the region meet European standards in human settlements development and improve their ability to secure investments in social housing and urban renewal.
The new UN-HABITAT agreement with the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe was given the green light last October by countries and international agencies. It will be supported by the Council of Europe Development Bank (Norwegian Trust Account) and the Swiss Development Cooperation.
The countries involved have each appointed a national coordinator who will work closely with the RCSP team on pilot projects in coming months, with the formal programme scheduled to come on line late in 2006.