REELIH Project Presented at Habitat III Conference

Written by Gyorgy Sumeghy, Advocacy Manager, Habitat for Humanity Europe, Middle East and Africa

Habitat III is a United Nations conference on housing and sustainable urban development that took place in Ecuador on 17-21 October 2016. At the end of the conference a comprehensive document called New Urban Agenda was adopted by UN member states. Habitat III has become an historic gathering of 30,000 global delegates (governments, NGOs, academia, urbanists, corporate, housing activists) who discussed the future of cities in light of rapid urbanization. Housing was a key topic of numerous discussions, with multi-stakeholder partnerships appearing as a crucial factor to ensure implementation of the New Urban Agenda. György Sümeghy, Habitat for Humanity EMEA Advocacy Manager, has also spoken on this matter at the conference.

As a part of a huge HFHI delegation to the Habitat III Conference I participated in a panel discussion Triple Win:  People, Public, and Private Partnerships for More Livable Cities and Communities. In this session, practitioners and participants in successful People Public Private Partnerships (PPPPs) diagnosed and presented practical advice on how this approach works by bringing public and private resources into alignment with community priorities through active collaboration among stakeholders. In this framework I was invited to present our project Residential Energy Efficiency for Low Income Households (REELIH) in Eastern Europe.

The presentation was based on HFHI’s and USAIS's experience in Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Armenia. All these countries have an underdeveloped market for residential energy efficiency and a complex tenure structure which often becomes a barrier to effective community decision making and proper building maintenance. There is also lack of awareness among home-owners about the relevance of energy efficiency investments. Therefore, what is really needed in order to improve the situation is, first of all, the empowerment of the local community of home-owners so that they can pro-actively engage in energy efficiency projects. Second, facilitation among home-owners, local government, financing institutions, national government, and construction companies is required to make the “eco-system of stakeholders” work.

We regard our work with USAID's REELIH as a specific example of a PPPP, as through our project we bring together all the stakeholders representing the four different ‘P’s in order to scale up investment in residential energy efficiency in Eastern Europe.

The presentation was well-received and was complemented by interesting case-studies by real estate developers from the United States and Brazil. A lively discussion afterwards was focused on questions like:

-  How important is trust in PPPP's?

- What are the key reasons that PPPP's work?

- Does the size of the project matter?

- What role does the public sector play in setting the stage?

- Are PPPP's "equal partnerships"?

Residential Energy Efficiency for Low-income Households project is one of the many assistance projects supported by the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Since 1992, the American people through USAID have provided a broad range of development programs in Armenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, shifting from an initial humanitarian emphasis to assistance for economic, political and social transition.

György Sümeghy received his MA in English and Hungarian Literature in 1995 in Budapest. He spent ten years in public education and later at a private business college. Based on his management experience in education and volunteerism and interest in social development he joined Habitat for Humanity Hungary as National Director in 2005. Under his leadership, Habitat for Humanity Hungary has become an advocacy led organization where field projects support strong awareness raising and advocacy initiatives to change housing policies in the country. Gyorgy joined HFHI EMEA in 2013 to lead regional advocacy initiatives and support national advocacy programs in the EMEA region. He represents HFHI in Brussels and all over Europe at regional conferences and meetings.


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