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Study Visit and Expert Meeting: report from the Budapest meeting

Energy prices and energy poverty in Eastern Europe: Realities and Perspectives

Metropolitan Research Institute, Habitat for Humanity Hungary, FEANTSA and Habitat for Humanity International joined powers to organize a study visit and expert meeting in Budapest
to better understand the state of play of the possible adverse effects of energy efficiency measures and the energy poverty problems in Central and Eastern Europe in 2022,
and how likely it is to be impacted by current European legislation plans and energy prices increase.

 

Study Visit

The event started on July 6 with an extensive study visit mostly in the 8th district of Budapest city. The group first visited an EU-funded (Horizon 2020) RenoPont, a one-stop-shop service for residents planning energy renovation, further continued with a tour of a social housing building renovated by the 8th district of Budapest, and with a presentation and discussion at the Family and Child Welfare Service Debt Management and Housing Group of the 8th district of Budapest followed by the meeting with the housing manager from the 8th district. The program ended with another presentation and discussion led by Fanni Tóth and Gergely Schum on social housing and energy projects at the district level.

 

Expert meeting: Exchange of views on energy prices & energy poverty in Eastern Europe

On July 7, the program continued in the format of an expert meeting consisting of two presentation sessions and one panel discussion:

Session 1: European perspectives

In session 1, Ludmila Perunska and Veronika Kiss presented the context of the residential building stock in Central and Eastern Europe and presented the two project, implemented by Habitat for Humanity International - Europe and the Middle East, tackling energy poverty in this region - REELIH and ComAct.

Session 2: The social impact of energy prices increases

Panel discussion: What policies to mitigate the social impact?

The event was concluded by a closing session on key takeaways, with a promising message that

“Through establishing combination of building regulations and pricing mechanisms, and through providing the right type and scale of support, the EU can include low-income households in the energy transition, empowering them to deploy effective and structural solutions that will improve their quality of life and help them move away from dependence on imported fossil fuels while contributing to reducing GHG emissions from their homes”

 

Check out the full report with discussion summaries and event outcomes here.

The International Social Housing Festival (ISHF) 2022 took place in Helsinki, Finland, on June 14–17, and it was organized by The Housing Finance and Development Centre of Finland (ARA), the City of Helsinki and Housing Europe.

The 2022 edition of ISHF explored housing as the foundation of good life, highlighted the role of social, public, and co-operative housing in achieving socially and ecologically sustainable living in our cities now and in the future. It welcomed the international housing community – housing practitioners, policymakers, architects, researchers, and tenants – to take part in this critical conversation, ask questions and find answers together. A wide range of international and Finnish partners came together to provide a variety of seminars, site visits and workshops exploring both policy and practice of putting people first.

Topics discussed

The Festival had 3 main topics: People first: quality of housing as quality of living; Achieving affordability and sustainability in housing; The right to housing: getting rid of the excuses not to guarantee it. The session organized by Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) focused on owner-occupied multi-apartment building stock in Central and Eastern Europe, as a special case for the second topic with some connection to the first topic too. Owner occupiers of multi-apartment buildings are very often at risk of energy poverty, due to rising energy prices and lacking home insulation, among other factors. For this reason, HFHI was proud to talk bring out this issue and open a conversation about this specific regional challenge.

Renovation wave and energy poverty: a special case of owner-occupiers in multi-apartment buildings

On the 15th of June 2022, HFHI presented two sessions at the National Museum in Helsinki. These sessions aimed to bring together a network of practitioners from public, private, and NGO sectors to discuss energy poverty, EU policies and their implementation at the national level, community mobilization, and scaling up the financing for the renovation of multi-apartment buildings.

The event specifically addressed the question of tenure structure and renovation of multi-apartment building stock in Central and Eastern Europe, countries of the Eastern Neighborhood and the Western Balkans and Southern Europe in the EU. Being one of the very few regional affordable housing advocates focusing on this specific region, organizing this event helped HFHI to build a stronger voice for specific challenges this region shares when it comes to affordable housing and energy poverty. Moreover, HFHI aims to widen this dialogue network by including Southern Europe into discussion as this part of Europe also shares some of the challenges, like low level of social housing and high rates of owner-occupied multi-apartment buildings.

 

Session 1: Energy poverty in owner-occupied multi-apartment buildings in Central and Eastern Europe. How to scale up energy efficiency renovations?

This session focused on best practices, followed by a moderated discussion on the wider applicability of the presented best practices and joint action towards influencing EU policy-making.

Present during the session were Elena Milanovska from the Terwilliger Center for Shelter and Innovation of Habitat for Humanity International who delivered a presentation about best practices in North Macedonia originally prepared by Liljana Alceva from HFH Macedonia, Vidas Lekavicius from the Lithuanian Energy Institute, Aniko Palffy from MEHI, the Hungarian Energy Efficiency Institute, and Petra Cakovska from the Consumer Protection Society in Slovakia.

Discussing the renovation without talking about the government’s role is impossible, which is why perhaps most speakers highlighted how there is a need for the national governments to support low-income households and the renovations, as they might be caught unaware by the incoming energy transition and its changes. Because both multi-apartment buildings and older houses are often occupied by families with mixed social status and backgrounds, it is imperative that a solution would not be one-size-fits-all, but rather directly tailored to specific needs. Likewise, as communicated by Aniko Palffy and Elena Milanovska, very often the associations or owners either do not know how, or do not care about the renovations, be it because of costs, limited technical skills, lacking bank financing, administrative requirements, or a simple lack of knowledge, which one-stop-shops can often help with.

The key takeaways from this session are that financial mechanisms are very important to support the renovations, with proper planning, implementation, and collective action to incentivize lower energy consumption required to tackle energy poverty on a full scale. Furthermore, mobilizing the homeowners and associations is perhaps the most relevant part of a successful solution to this particular challenge.

Session 2: Dialogue between housing practitioners from Southern Europe and Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). What can we learn from each other about the renovation of owner-occupied multi-apartment buildings?

This moderated panel discussion dwelt on the similarities and differences between Southern Europe and CEE, seeking to discuss the key topics such as how to address bottlenecks in the regulation of home-owner associations, what kind of social facilitation is needed to support HOAs, who should do the social facilitation and how this should be funded.

This time, the array of speakers was also very interesting, as this session aimed to bring together the representatives from different regions. From the CEE part by Knut Hoeller from IWO – The Housing Initiative for Eastern Europe and  Elena Szolgayova from #Housing2030 were sharing best practices from the Baltic states and Slovakia. The Southern ideas and solutions were presented by Alice Corovessi from INZEB in Greece and by Andoni Hidalgo from the Basque Urban Agenda of the Basque Autonomous Community in Spain.

Alice Corovessi highlighted that in Greece, the multi-apartment buildings face many issues, from a lack of funds to renovate (echoed by all participants), through considering even the smallest of buildings as multi-apartment, despite housing “only” four owners. This experience was also felt by Andoni Hidalgo from the Basque region in Spain, which also experiences bottlenecks in the administration of these buildings. However, they boast some good practices such as one-stop-shops and neighborhood renovations, something like the ideas of the EU’s New European Bauhaus initiative.

The main takeaways from this session are that without proper financing for a long-term period, supported by qualified administration, renovations will not happen. As Elena Szolgayova said, stable financing and correct conditions are what helped to renovate 75% of the multi-apartment stock in Slovakia. It is also imperative that the state sets a proper financial and policy environment for these renovations to happen so that even the local communities could take it upon themselves to partner up with potential investors to make the lives of their citizens more livable.

We thank the organizers for the opportunity to contribute to the festival with own session and for putting together a rich program encouraging for further actions in the housing sector.


Find more information about the ISHF here.

Find more information about The European Responsible Housing Initiative (ERHIN) and its awards here.

On April 28, 2022, Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) organised its last in-person event of the REELIH Project, which is approaching its end on August 30, 2022.

 

The REELIH Impact Workshop, titled "Sectorial approach to scale up residential energy efficiency in Central and Eastern Europe" and organised by HFHI, took place in Falkensteiner Hotel in Bratislava, Slovakia and included various speakers, panelists, and participants from different countries.

Andrew Popelka, Senior Energy Advisor at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), who partnered with HFHI and the local implementing partners - Habitat for Humanity Macedonia, Habitat for Humanity Armenia, and ENOVA (Bosnia and Herzegovina), opened the workshop with Zita Kakalejcikova, Manager of Residential Energy Projects at HFHI early in the morning.

REELIH Impact Workshop: opening speech by Andrew Popelka and Zita Kakalejcikova.

Program of the day

REELIH team prepared a set of three sessions with refreshing breaks to keep participants fully engaged. The first session tackled financing models for residential energy efficiency by introducing good practices and discussing existing bottlenecks. This session, moderated by Elena Milanovska, Associate Director of Capital Markets & Financial Inclusion at HFHI EME and Africa Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter, included speakers such as:

REELIH Impact Workshop: speakers for the first session from left to right: Dragomir Tzanev, Liljana Alceva, Yulia Pushko, Andrew Popelka, Elena Milanovska.

The next session discussed how National Building Renovation Strategies impact the renovation of the multi-apartment buildings. Moderated by Kestutis Kupsys, Member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and Vice-president of Lithuanian Consumers Alliance (LVOA-ALCO), the session provided experience from multiple countries from the region of Central and Eastern Europe and Western Balkans, such as North Macedonia, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Estonia, and Lithuania in developing National Building Renovation Strategies and the successes and failures in its implementation. The speakers were:

REELIH Impact Workshop: audience

The last session of the REELIH Impact Workshop was a bit more interactive as it asked participants to split into three breakout sessions. This allowed the participants to learn about good practices from the three implementing countries of the REELIH project, namely Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and North Macedonia in an original setting, through story-telling of project contributors from the three implementing countries.

REELIH Impact Workshop: participants, organizers, speakers

This in-person meeting was a great refreshment after all the online meetings and gatherings this group of people had attended over the last two years. Even though the REELIH project is ending, we hope this group of experts will continue the established practices and meetings and secure a continuation of REELIH's core aim and mission.


For more pictures, visit our resources photo gallery.

Between January 24-28, 2022, the annual Right to Energy Forum took place, an event organized by the Right to Energy Coalition.

This year's event took place online, which meant that it was very accessible and reached a lot of interested parties.  The focus was on the issues of energy poverty, from the present state of affairs, with people paying disproportionally high sums for energy, to the green prospects of the future, the main message being that clean and affordable energy is a human right.

What is the Right to Energy Coalition?

Right to Energy Coalition unites relevant stakeholders such as social housing providers, NGOs, environmental campaigners, energy cooperatives and others across Europe. They campaign to tackle energy poverty at an EU, national and local level.

The Coalition aims for an energy system that puts people and planet first. The Coalition was formed in 2017 to advocate for energy poverty in the 2030 EU Clean Energy package. Since then, coalition members have successfully campaigned to ban disconnections, implement free of charge renovations for energy poor households and include the energy poor as key players in the EU Green Deal

Current work includes working with the EU Green Deal and other energy efficiency legislation, as well as advocacy in member states, like local community campaigns to secure the right to energy for energy poor households during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Right to Energy Forum

The Forum took place during five days, each day dealing with a different aspect of how energy related issues should be tackled. We could here from number of speakers from all sorts of institutions, not just the members of The Coalition, but also from MEPs from the European Parliament, national decision-makers, European Commission representatives and others, showcasing how relevant both the event and the discussions taking place within it were.

We would like to highlight some sessions that really pushed the envelope.

End indecent housing: how to deliver renovations to energy poor households

Clotilde Clark-Foulquier from FEANTSA, hosted this panel with Julien Dijol from Housing Europe, Social housing sector, Eva Suba representing ENPOR, Energy poor households in the private rented sector, Louise Sunderland speaking on behalf of the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP), Mincho Benov from our national office Habitat for Humanity Bulgaria, Sarah Coupechoux of the Abbe Pierre Foundation, and lastly Martha Myers from Friends of the Earth Europe.

This session dealt with the specific definitions of energy poverty and indecent housing, highlighting the best practices as well as new ideas in tackling energy poverty and indecent housing, such as FEANTSA’s publications50 out of the box solutionsandStaying on top of the wave”, both of which feature the REELIH project as a good example.

There were many ideas also on how to renovate the housing stock. The Regulatory Assistance Project for example, recommends renovating the worst performing buildings first.

Mincho Benov from Habitat for Humanity Bulgaria argued that the main issues in Bulgaria, highly corresponding with those of whole region of Central and Eastern Europe, are the high numbers of prefabricated multi-apartment buildings, extreme energy poverty and low incomes. The challenges have solutions in combining access to interest-free microfinancing for home improvements with life-skills training deliveries, tech advice and housing mediation and community support, advocacy work and campaigning to raise the awareness of the need of differentiated support focused on the poor households and secure the proper design of the residential energy efficiency programs, among others.

Discussion of Members of the European Parliament: Is Fit for 55 fit to tackle energy poverty?

This panel dealt with a policy package that has been thoroughly discussed across Europe, Fit for 55, which is a part of the EU Green Deal.

This session was moderated by Clotidle Clark-Foulquier (FEANTSA) with 3 distinguished Members of the European Parliament, namely Michael Bloss (Greens, Germany) Radan Kanev (EPP, Bulgaria) and Cornelia Ernst (The Left, Germany), who brought their breadth of experience and idea onto the table.

Some of the key takeaways:

The European Commission's commitments: from words to action for Europe's energy poor

As always, it is important to know what direction the EU wants to go when it comes to policy-making, which is why this particular session was relevant.

This session was moderated by Colin Roche from Friends of the Earth Europe, a partner to the Right to Energy Coalition. Present was the EU Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit, who welcomed all attendees and said that the green transition should be fair for all.

Present were also the president of the Transport, Energy and infrastructure of the European Economic and Cocial Committee, Baiba Miltovica, Jeppe Jansen from the Energy Poverty Advsory Hub, and representing DG ENER, one of the top EU DGs that directly deals with energy related issues, Serena Pontoglio, a team leader of the Renovation Wave implementation from DG ENER and Nikolaos Kontinakis, a policy officer at DG ENER dealing with energy efficiency, bringing their accrued experience and ideas to the panel.

The key topic discussed in this panel was how energy poverty is no longer an issue concerning only the poorest ones as even the average consumers suffer a lot in paying bills for energy heating, fuel and more.

The European Green Deal is not only about economic but also about social and environmental impact. We need to figure out how to use these tools for the people to really live better, by committing to improving isolation of their homes, finding alternative sources of energy, and becoming less dependent on fossil fuels.

Many tools within the legislative framework of Fit for 55 (such as Social Climate Fund) can really help the consumers. Many of these funds are not close to the citizens, and do not reflect the fact how difficult it is to renovate for example the multi-apartment buildings. At the same time, you must go through many formalities which slow down the process of opening up the market, understanding its importance and technical aspects for renovation of multi-apartment buildings.

Local level actions tailored to the citizens are the most important when it comes to tackling energy poverty.

Why energy poverty and overall affordability in energy and housing matter

Energy poverty is more than just a buzzword, it is a reality for many people living in Europe and around the world, a reality which should not be tolerated in the developed world.

This reality has now been heavily acknowledged by the European Union, and it, together with partners, is trying to tackle energy poverty head-on with new policy packages and initiatives.

However, it is all easier said than done. As written before, there are still many dimensions of the new policies, and further technical difficulties that need concentrated effort to solve them, especially within the context of multi-family apartment buildings and their renovations.

 

 

The conference organised by the European Commission took place between November 15-17, 2021, as a hybrid event with an in-person part in Brussels. Zita Kakalejcikova, Manager of Residential Energy Efficiency programs, spoke about the ComAct project and energy performance in residential buildings in the context of the New European Bauhaus initiative.

The New European Bauhaus (NEB) is an initiative targeting the incorporation of the core principles of the new European Green Deal into the construction sector while focusing on three main criteria: sustainability, aesthetics, and inclusion. The NEB's High-level Roundtable consists of 18 experts in architecture, design, engineering, but also activists who believe Europeans should live in connection with the surroundings.

 

 

Fueled by the vision of response to climate change, the NEB initiative decided to reframe the original European Bauhaus from the 1920s so that the new one is based on the restoration of connection between humans and nature, the healthy relationship with our planet and focus on communities. As the NEB's slogan says, they aim to build a beautiful, sustainable, and inclusive society.

ComAct (Community Tailored Actions for Energy Poverty Mitigation) is Habitat for Humanity's led project of all together 10 organization financed by the European Commission's Horizon2020 funding program targeting Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and the regions of the former Soviet Union republics (CIS). As these regions have the most energy-poor people, ComAct is, in fact, extending the work on the issues that are already tackled by the REELIH project.

 

LIFE in the New European Bauhaus

The project manager of ComAct, Zita Kakalejcikova, spoke during an event organized by the EC called LIFE in the New European Bauhaus. Zita stressed the need to focus on energy poor households in multi apartment buildings in CEE and CIS region.  Her session tackled the energy performance in buildings emphasizing the need to decarbonize the building stock, which is essential to reduce emissions and meet 2030 and 2050 climate targets. As the event states, this session focused on how to scale up renovation rates while protecting cultural heritage, fighting energy poverty and harnessing the power of the community.

 

Speakers of the panel were:

You can watch the fruitful discussion recorded and shared on YouTube (session time: 1:32:44 – 3:04:42).


Find out more about the New European Bauhaus here and the event here.

More information about ComAct can be found on this link.


This year's European Sustainable Energy Week will take place online starting October 25 to October 29, 2021. As a part of its Extended Program happening between October 11 - 22, 2021, we are pleased to announce that Habitat for Humanity International will be hosting an online session on HOW TO MAKE THE RENOVATION WAVE A SUCCESS IN CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE IN ADDRESSING ENERGY POVERTY? on

October 14, 2021, from 15:00 to 16:30 CET.

 

The session targets practitioners, government and municipality representatives, and consumer organizations and introduces specific challenges of the CEE region by providing an EU policy background for building renovation.

The session will be moderated by Elena Milanovska, Associate Director, Housing Finance Systems, Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter, Habitat for Humanity International.

 

 

Speakers:

Our speakers will present best practices from the region that successfully tackle energy poverty and lead renovation of residential buildings financial and technical assistance to homeowner associations.

A discussion with the audience will follow presentations, and several rounds of interactive exercises will accompany the session.

Register for the event here.

 

To register, please write an email to residential.mgt@habitat.org, and we will notify you about the dedicated registration page once it is available.


Find out more about the session here.

Stay in touch with the EUSEW community by signing up to the EUSEW mailing list, visiting the EUSEW website and following #EUSEW2021 on Twitter.

The Eleventh International Forum on Energy for Sustainable Development organized by UNECE aims to bring together professionals from its member states to tackle the issue of access to affordable and clean energy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprint. The Forum acknowledges the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for resolutions, but it also calls for focus on the need for a more sustainable environment. Therefore, the UNECE Forum will look into topics such as fossil fuels, achievement of Sustainable Development Goals, enhancing integration of the energy markets and the transition to a sustainable energy system.

 

This year, the UNECE Forum will be organized in a hybrid form with the majority of the events held online, through numerous workshops on sustainable energy and its role in achieving Sustainable Development Goals, mainly SDG 7. The UNECE Forum will be attended by international energy experts, government officials, and representatives from academia, businesses, and civil society.

We are happy to announce that also the second REELIH regional conference is featured among the events under the scope of the Forum.

The UNECE Forum will start with its first session - the Eight session of the Group of Experts on Energy Efficiency - already on September 20, 2021.

The group of experts will discuss the possibilities to improve energy efficiency in industry and buildings through the process and use of digitalization. Furthermore, the existing regulatory and policy barriers which disable the improvement of energy efficiency will be discussed.

The session is especially significant for the REELIH project as Andrew Popelka, a representative of the USAID, will contribute to the discussion with a short presentation about our in-depth comparative study Gap Analysis of the Housing Sector In Western Balkan Countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, and Serbia VS. Slovak Republic. The study analyses the gaps in the housing sector in the Western Balkans from different perspectives, including housing legal and regulatory structures, energy efficiency of residential building stock, and finance.

As a matter of fact, the Gap analysis highlighted the REELIH project and the impact it has in the implementing countries - mainly by establishing new mechanisms that help people to find consensus and get capital for the renovation of multi-apartment buildings. To learn more about the analysis, see the full report here.

We invite everyone to join all the interesting sessions of the upcoming UNECE Forum that will start off with a discussion including also our contribution.


Read the Gap analysis here.

Find more information about the UNECE 11th International Forum on Energy for Sustainable Development here.

 

HFHI proudly announces 2 upcoming housing conferences this autumn.

The Europe Housing Forum (EHF) will be a four-day conference taking place between November 16 - 19, 2021.

The second REELIH Regional Conference, Scaling up energy efficiency renovations of multi-apartment buildings: Energy poverty alleviation in Eastern Europe, will be a part of the EHF 2021.


 

"The time has come for key decision-makers and stakeholders in the housing industry to cooperate to build a sustainable future for all and to bring the issue of decent housing to the forefront of the agenda in Europe"

Rick Hathaway, Vice President of Habitat for Humanity International EMEA 


 

The second REELIH Regional Conference, organized by Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is focused on the energy efficiency of multi-apartment buildings and its further renovation with the goal to alleviate energy poverty of homeowners in the region of Central and Eastern Europe. The conversation about energy efficiency and housing equity built on its strength and relevance after the European Commission introduced its new initiative - the European Green Deal. Even though the implementing countries of the REELIH project are not part of the European Union, they are impacted, apart from the EU initiatives, through the Energy Community and its policies. Research initiatives, EU policies, community participation, financing models, and proper legislation will form 5 individual sessions hosted by HFHI and USAID. These topics are overlapping with those of the Energy and Sustainability track of EHF so we are going to have additional sessions during the Europe Housing Forum.

 

The Europe Housing Forum 2021 intends to create a space for housing experts from various NGOs, academia, technology companies, donor agencies, advocacy, urban planning, and architectural institutions to learn and collaborate to reach our common goal - to position housing as a key driver of sustainable cities as well as economic growth and to seek innovative solutions to the challenges of affordable housing.

The main objectives of the EHF are to connect leaders and experts to collaborate, inspire future projects and advocate for policies that promote inclusive, equitable, affordable, and sustainable housing.

Through the following tracks

 

we hope to reach

Europe Housing Innovation Awards

Thanks to Hilti Foundation, Whirlpool Corporation, and Somfy Foundation, we have the opportunity to reward enterprises that contribute to affordable housing solutions in Europe. The winners will be announced in three categories: best public policies, best practices, and best technologies. Entries can be submitted online until September 12, 2021. Everyone is welcomed to participate and in case you know about a policy, practice, or technology that would be eligible for the award, please, do not hesitate to share this opportunity with them.

The Europe Housing Forum is bringing together housing experts to learn, collaborate and spotlight affordable and inclusive housing as the key factor of a sustainable future. We believe our Awards can motivate others to come up with innovative solutions to one of the most basic human needs - the need for shelter.

Help us share the word and stay tuned for more details!


Find out more about the event here,

about the REELIH Conference here,

Or follow the event on our Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn

The Renovation Summit was a two-day event introduced by Housing Europe – the European Federation of Public, Cooperative and Social Housing. It is a network of 46 national and regional federations in 25 countries, including 19 EU member states.

This online event took place on the 10th and 11th of May 2021. Both days, two sessions took place, focusing on different housing and renovation-related topics, such as the EU Renovation Wave Strategy, public drivers of energy transition, financing and policies as well as relevant examples from partner organizations and the public.

The Renovation Summit brought together relevant stakeholders to discuss and promote new approaches towards the EU’s decarbonization project, to preserve social fairness and affordability in housing. The aim was to promote people-centered measures, a low-carbon culture throughout the supply chain of renovation, and an eventual search for financial resources from all levels, especially from the EU, and all kinds of institutions to achieve the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.

Housing Europe was not the only relevant actor present during the summit, as there managed to invite several personalities from the branches of the EU’s framework of institutions, such as Elisa Ferreira, the European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, or Kadri Simson, the European Commissioner for Energy, Ciaran Cuffe, an MEP from the European Parliament, and the Rapporteur of the recent EP resolution on “Maximising the energy efficiency potential of the EU building stock” and various other representatives of the DG’s, such as DG REFORM, ECFIN or ENERGY or the European Investment Bank. All the representatives highlighted the need for an effective implementation of the Renovation Wave Strategy as well as the EU policies, which should make the application of policies towards housing easier, like the RRF structure or the European Green Deal initiative.

A great deal of concern was given to the state of social housing in Europe, which requires expansion and renovation, best done in accordance with the principles of affordability, sustainability, and innovation. Likewise, a few sessions placed importance upon the idea that housing and renovation should not be inaccessible, for example in less developed regions of Europe, where specific challenges have to be addressed, as many people live in relatively lesser conditions due to the abundance of badly isolated and low-quality multi-apartment buildings, which tend to trap people in the cycle of energy poverty.

Similarly, both Stefan Moser (DG ENERGY) and Ciaran Cuffe (Member of the European Parliament, talked about how the EU’s strategy towards renovation must be more comprehensive and understand that multi-apartment buildings contrast significantly with social housing in the West due to organizational differences and must be given a specific attention and approach.

Likewise, sessions such as Neighborhood renovation for people, presented various measures on tackling energy efficiency and poverty related issues. One of the examples was the fight for multi- apartment building renovation in Estonia, presented by Anu Sarnet from EKYL, which showcased how Estonia ambitiously plans to renovate all of their badly built and energy inefficient building blocks from the 70s by 2050, in close co-operation with homeowner associations and homeowners, which is very reminiscent of REELIH project’s goals and ideas.

Moreover, the EU will introduce new legislation, which will try to underline the priorities of the Energy Efficiency Directive, with a focus on a bottom-up approach towards achieving climate obligations, whether by 2030 or 2050. Considerable attention will also be paid to whole neighborhood enhancement, as per the New European Bauhaus initiative of the Commission.

In conclusion, the Renovation Summit achieved what it set out to do, to gather relevant stakeholders from a multi-faceted network of representatives that come from all levels of housing, from the tenants to the EU’s structures. It was a very comprehensive event as it provided much needed insight into how a successful implementation of the Renovation Wave and the recovery in Europe should work, in times of dire distress and an intensifying degree of energy poverty.


Find more information about the Renovation Summit and the initiative Our homes, our deal here.

"Housing governance to support housing affordability"

is a Regional Online Workshop that took place during the last week of February 2021. It was co-organized by the Ministry of Environment and Spatial planning of Slovenia and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), together with the support of Housing Europe, the Union for the Mediterranean and UN-Habitat. The event opened up for a discussion about the undersupply of affordable housing, homelessness, rising urban rents, low quality of housing and urban infrastructure, limited access to land for housing construction and renovation, and mounting urban poverty in the UNECE region. These challenges has been long on rise, however, the Covid-19 pandemic situation made the need of sustainable and affordable housing one of the most important policy challenges of current days.

Affordable and adequate housing is far from being a standard within the UNECE region and is especially important for vulnerable groups which at the same time suffer also from limited access to healthcare, fuel poverty and price inflation. Moreover, mounting unemployment connected with Covid-19 pandemic widens the number of people in the need of housing and other basic services even more. The UNECE, representing a diverse region with ranging national and local contexts of housing sector and its legal frameworks, decided to organize this online workshop to share knowledge and good practice for inspiration and allowing others to formulate viable and sustainable solutions to long-standing housing issues in this region together with responding to the world pandemic crisis.

Workshop

The workshop was organized as a two days event. The first day of the workshop was dedicated to the theme of key international initiatives on affordable housing in Europe and on governance for affordable, adequate and healthy housing for all.

The morning of the second day was reserved for discussion of #Housing2030: Improving Housing Affordability in the UNECE Region. It is a new UNECE study under development with a goal of improving capacities of national and local governments to formulate policies that improve housing affordability and sustainability in the UNECE region. As one of the topics of this study addresses housing governance and regulation, the UNECE reserved this time for workshop session with a focus on the preparation of this chapter of the #Housing2030 study.

The final session of the two-day workshop called "Governance of the housing sector: Focus on South-East Europe" was oriented towards housing policies in countries of the South-Eastern Europe.

Andrew Popelka, a representative of the USAID which provides funding for REELIH project, contributed to the session with a comprehensive presentation of a new comparative study Gap Analysis of the Housing Sector In Western Balkan Countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, and Serbia VS. Slovak Republic. The study identifies and analyses the gaps in housing regulations in the Western Balkans.

REELIH project is mentioned in this study to manifest its impact on establishing mechanisms that help people in REELIH implementing countries to find consensus and get finances for renovation of the multi-owner apartment buildings.

Andrew Popelka admits that the multi-owned apartment buildings lack the attention of the donors since the multi-ownership of the building complicates the overall decision making prior and also during the renovation works. That is another reason why REELIH works on creating more financing possibilities for these buildings, providing technical assistance and serving as a mediator in the complex environment of many stakeholders included.

We would like to thank the UNECE for organizing this workshop and to Andrew Popelka from USAID for his contribution to this workshop, again showcasing REELIH as a good practice in the region of Central and Eastern Europe.


Find more information about the UNECE workshop here. 

Find a new comparative study by USAID here.

 

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