The first day of the MENA Housing Forum kicked off covered a wide range of issues, from climate change and housings, ways out of informality, data and the partnerships needed to create more affordable housing.
On November 21st, 2022, the first edition of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Housing Forum (MHF) kicked off with opening words by the Day 1 MC, Ibrahim El-Kerdany, who welcomed the participants and highlighted the importance of the topic of and inclusive and sustainable housing sector within the MENA region.
The forum then featured introductory remarks by Jonathan Reckford (Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Habitat for Humanity International), Maimunah Mohd Sharif (Executive Director of UN-Habitat), and Patrick Canagasingham (Chief Operating Officer (COO), Habitat for Humanity International). These remarks discussed the importance of adequate housing that is affordable to even the most vulnerable groups, setting the tone for the rest of the event.
The opening remarks were then followed with six sessions covering a wide range of issues including climate change and strategies towards increasing housing affordability.
The first plenary session of the day addressed the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27), which had just taken place during the week prior to the forum, and featured a prominent group of housing experts who had attended and/or been engaged with COP27. The interventions and discussion by the speakers focused on the key takeaways from COP27 that can inform housing policy and programming moving forward.
Following this important session, the forum held a virtual session that focused on the role that the private sector plays within the realm of affordable and resilient housing. This virtual panel featured speakers from the private and financial sectors whose work includes the promotion of low-income housing or disaster-risk reduction, as well experts on public-private-people partnerships (P4).
Afterwards, representatives from Habitat for Humanity Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon shared their learnings from the National Housing Forums which concluded a month prior in their respective countries. During this in-person session, the different National Office representatives were able to exchange experiences and feedback from the three country-level conversations.
The conversation then turned to informal housing through a panel discussion on how to move from the mere upgrading of informal settlements to the revitalization of these neighbourhoods. This in-person session took place in parallel with a virtual session on the use of data in city-planning to help build more inclusive and resilient cities.
The last session focused on the lack of affordable housing in the region, analysing the wide range of policies introduced to try and bridge the affordable housing gap, which is currently exacerbated by demographic pressure, the rising cost of housing, and stagnant wages.
The last session focused on the lack of affordable housing in the region, analysing the wide range of policies introduced to try and bridge the affordable housing gap. A gap currently exacerbated by demographic pressure, the rising cost of housing and stagnant wages.