On October 17, 2016, in Quito, Ecuador, representatives of the chair of OLACEFS Working Group for the Audit of Public Works (GTOP) presented the results for, and released the executive summary of, the Coordinated Audit on Social Housing at the Third World Conference of the United Nations on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, Habitat III.

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Every 20 years, the United Nations convenes conferences to discuss matters relating to housing and urban development. The first conference, Habitat I, took place in 1976 in Vancouver, Canada, against a backdrop of governments starting to recognize the need for sustainable human settlements and the consequences of rapid urbanization, especially in the developing world.

Twenty years later, in 1996, the United Nations General Assembly convened Habitat II in Istanbul, Turkey. On this occasion the commitments signed in Vancouver were ratified and world leaders also agreed to adopt the “Habitat Agenda” as a global action plan for housing and urban development.

This year, another 20 years on, the UN’s General Assembly convened Habitat III with the following aims: to renew the political commitment of member states for sustainable urban development, to evaluate initiatives already implemented, to combat poverty and to identify and address new and emerging challenges.

In this context, the Secretariat of Habitat III selected initiatives put forward relating to the theme. The presentation of the joint project carried out in the ambit of GTOP looked at the findings of the audit, at good practices and the opportunities for improvement identified amongst the social housing programs assessed in nine countries from our region: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, Paraguay and the Dominican Republic.

It was emphasized that if the opportunities for improvement identified were acted upon, they would benefit the families being helped by the social programs, increase the transparency of government activities and contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the participating countries.

Stakeholders from various nations attended the presentation which included a Q&A session at the end. In general they welcomed the OLACEFS initiative to carry out an audit of such value and reinforced the importance of SAIs following through the opportunities for improvement identified in order to ensure effective results. The need for similar work in other countries in the region was also highlighted.

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The conference was attended by about 30,000 participants from 167 United Nations member states, including presidents, ministers, regional and local governments, civil society organizations and experts. At the end, a document entitled the “New Urban Agenda” was drawn up, containing guidelines for governments for their public housing policies and urban development for the next 20 years.

As such, GTOP’s participation in the Habitat III Conference provided substance for promoting discussion of the UN’s New Urban Agenda for the 2016-2036 period. More than that, the coordinated audit carried out by GTOP promoted contact between OLACEFS and UN-HABITAT, the UN agency responsible for matters relating to housing and urban development, which participated in planning and development work, and showed interest in using the results for the agency’s future initiatives.

Please click on the link to see the picture gallery for the event:

Habitat III Conference