The Advisory Council positively commented the work programme of UN-HABITAT in the region and discussed key issues such as the impact of the financial crisis on the property market and housing and the emerging framework for urban policies of the European Union.
The Council particularly welcomed UN-HABITAT’s existing regional initiatives such as the Global Land Tool Network Conference on land and property taxation and the Regional Capacity Strengthening Programme related to the Vienna Declaration on Informal Settlements as well as the preparation of a report on the State of Central and East European Cities.
The Council also called upon UN-HABITAT “to intensify its activities with regard to identifying new solutions for increasing resources dedicated to the provision of affordable housing for the poor, low and middle income groups (…) and further developing projects aimed at raising the awareness of present challenges for urban policy in line with the provisions of the Leipzig Charter [on Sustainable European Cities]”.
The statement on housing finance calls for greater incentives for the expansion of the rental sector, the promotion of household savings as a means for co-financing the purchase of homes and ensuring that down-payments are a standard part of good practice for financial institutions engaged in lending for property purchase. It also calls for policies which combine measures which ease access to land for construction and discourage speculation, while increasing the incentives for revitalization of existing housing stock.
According to the Council there is also a need for the European Union to give greater priority to its efforts on urban development as key to improving territorial cohesion across the EU and neighbouring states. This prioritization should be reflected in EU regional policies and also in its neighbourhood initiatives such as the EU Partnership for the East.
The Council is a high-level advisory body of UN-HABITAT and its Warsaw Office on programme and policy matters. Eleven countries of Central, East and South East European region participated in the Third Session.