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Warsaw, 14 Sept 09

Mr. Biau, left, with Mr. Dziekonski, and Mr. Krzysztof Mularczyk, Director of the Warsaw office.

Facing financial turmoil, countries of central, eastern and southeast Europe have asked UN-HABITAT’s support for innovative funding solutions for affordable housing.

The request was made at a meeting of members of the Advisory Council to the UN-HABITAT Warsaw Office gathered in Warsaw, Poland for its Third Session on 7 September 2009. The meeting was an opportunity to analyze the Office’s programme of work for the biennium 2009-2010 and share opinions on the global economic crisis and its consequences in the housing sector as well as on statements concerning important issues of territorial cohesion, European Union (EU) urban policy and the EU Eastern Partnership.

In his opening address, Mr. Olgierd Dziekonski, Undersecretary of State at the Ministry of Infrastructure, Republic of Poland, and Chairman of the Advisory Council, emphasized that “urban development actions require greater engagement on the part of the European Union”.

“Urbanization is a key to attaining territorial cohesion within the EU and with neighbouring countries. The prioritization of these issues should also be reflected in regional policy, as well as related neighbourhood initiatives such as the Partnership for the East”, he said.

Mr. Dziekonski also recalled the significance of the Council as a platform for dialogue and exchange among countries in Europe and also for formulation of recommendations on the working programme of UN-HABITAT in the region.

Mr. Daniel Biau, Director of the Regional and Technical Cooperation Division of UN-HABITAT, highlighted the need for governments to find ways of promoting cheaper housing options for poor and low income households.

“Clearly you cannot have a harmonious society if people are not secure in their homes,” he said. “The effect of the financial crisis will in the short term be the reduction in the supply of affordable housing.” If the issue is ignored social tensions could rise.

Mr. Biau, citing the International Guidelines on Decentralisation and the Strengthening of Local Authorities and the International Guidelines on Access to Basic Services for All, said that UN-HABITAT could act as a catalyst to collect and analyze the lessons learned from the successful decentralization processes in Poland and other countries of this region and disseminate the examples of good practice.

He also thanked the Polish government for its generous support in giving a home to the UN-HABITAT Warsaw Office in its quest to serve countries in the region. For details, click here.

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