Habitat for Humanity calls for sustainable approaches in adequate housing for informal settlements in Asia-Pacific region 

Taking place in South Korea for the first time, the ninth Asia-Pacific Housing Forum from Oct. 26-27 will focus on people-centered, inclusive housing solutions

SEOUL (Oct. 6, 2023) — Addressing the affordable housing crisis in Asia and the Pacific, Habitat for Humanity urged stakeholders to adopt sustainable approaches for adequate housing in informal settlements. At a press conference today in South Korea’s capital city of Seoul, Habitat also highlighted its efforts to improve the residential environment in the country.

The ninth Asia-Pacific Housing Forum, which will be held in South Korea for the first time since its 2007 inception, was also unveiled. Taking place at Ibis Ambassador Hotel in Suwon City from October 26-27, the conference gathers major stakeholders engaged in seeking solutions to affordable housing issues and promoting decent housing as a driver of economic growth. This year’s housing forum is expected to draw over 300 participants to discuss and present diverse views through two insightful plenaries and four engaging tracks:

  • Adequate Housing in Informal Settlements;
  • Climate Change and Affordable Housing;
  • Financing and Affordable Housing; and
  • Addressing the Rising Challenges in Housing.

For the first time, the 2023 Asia-Pacific Housing Forum will be held in cooperation with the Asia-Pacific Urban Forum organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

Other than stakeholder assemblies for youth and business — side events of the housing forum — participants can look forward to the Innovation Awards that feature creative and sustainable solutions. During the housing forum, the awards’ finalists including government housing representatives and entrepreneurs will pitch their outstanding initiatives, technologies, and programs to a live audience.

At the press conference, Luis Noda, vice president, Asia-Pacific, Habitat for Humanity International, remarked, “There is an immense and urgent need for adequate housing solutions in the Asia-Pacific region, as a rapid shift towards urbanization has caused urban populations to surpass rural populations. Furthermore, the housing problems are exacerbated by migration, raising inequality, aging and the effects of climate change and natural disasters.”

Luis Noda Habitat for Humanity's Vice President of Asia-Pacific

Rapid urbanization, migration, rising inequality and the effects of climate change and disasters worsen housing problems in the region, said Luis Noda, vice president, Asia-Pacific, Habitat for Humanity International.

Currently, more than 1 billion people around the world live in informal settlements, such as slums or favelas, and their homes often lack basic services, land tenure security and climate resilience. In addition, according to a United Nations study, the number of Asia-Pacific urban dwellers will rise to more than 2.8 billion by 2030 and reach nearly 3.5 billion in 2050. Worldwide, climate change mitigation and adaptation measures should be meaningfully addressed while tackling the growing housing gap faced by millions of people. In recent years, Habitat for Humanity has tested and implemented climate-adaptable housing.

“We need to strengthen the preparedness, response and resilience of cities through disaster-resilient infrastructure and improved access to basic services by upgrading the living conditions of slums and informal settlements, while improving the systems that affect access to affordable housing,” Noda emphasized. “For this reason, at the ninth Asia-Pacific Housing Forum themed ‘Enabling Sustainable and Affordable Housing in Informal Settlements,’ engaged stakeholders are going to discuss the need to develop people-centered and inclusive cities that provide social services, and safe and healthy environments, and to seek solutions to solve these matters.”

Kwang-Hoi Lee, national director, Habitat for Humanity Korea, also spoke at the press conference. “Habitat Korea has been advocating for housing rights both domestically and internationally to address housing issues since our founding.” He shared, “In addition to campaigns to support descendants of independent fighters and veterans of the Korean War, we are engaged in a variety of domestic projects, including housing improvements for vulnerable children’s households, wildfire and disaster response projects and other facility and environmental improvement projects. We also dispatch volunteers overseas to work on projects aimed at resolving housing and hygiene issues.”

Habitat for Humanity Korea advocates for housing rights and addresses housing issues domestically and internationally, said its national director Kwang-Hoi Lee.

Since 1994, Habitat Korea has partnered with more than 26,000 families to build homes in South Korea and overseas. Domestically, the organization works with seniors living alone, multicultural families and other socially neglected individuals to re-establish their self-reliance and improve their living conditions. With the launch of a campaign a few years ago, Habitat Korea has helped over 110 households who are descendants of independence patriots to build or improve their homes.

In regions such as Asia, Africa, and Latin America, Habitat Korea works with families in 25 countries to lay the foundation for a stable life. To promote sustainable development of local communities, the organization supports sector-specific approaches such as improving access to water and sanitation, bettering the educational environment, and reducing disaster risks.

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The Asia-Pacific Housing Forum is part of a Global Housing Forum series organized by Habitat for Humanity in collaboration with sector organizations and institutions.