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Housing Policy and Development Section (HPDS)

Mandate: The Housing Policy and Development Section (HPDS) was created in May 1999 as one of the organizational units of the Shelter Branch. The main mandate of the Branch is to support the world-wide implementation of the Habitat Agenda, with specific focus on one of its two main goals: "adequate shelter for all". For this purpose, the Branch works towards improving access to shelter for the world’s poor and other vulnerable groups, particularly in developing countries and countries with economies in transition. Within this broad mandate the activities of HPDS focus on three areas, namely: housing policies and programmes; housing rights; and building materials and construction technologies. The work is undertaken in support of the Global Campaign for Secure Tenure, which is one of the main instruments of UN-HABITAT contributing to the implementation of the Habitat Agenda. The activities of the Section focus on the needs and promotion of participatory approaches that can involve and mobilize the aspirations and capacities of the poor, other vulnerable groups and people with special needs.

HPDS focus areasMain substantive mandatesUN-HABITAT main organizational mandates
Housing policies and programmesHabitat Agenda, paragraphs 60, 62-74Habitat Agenda, paragraphs 228.a-g
Housing rightsHabitat Agenda, paragraph 61Commission on Human Settlements resolution 16/7
Building materials and construction technologiesHabitat Agenda, paragraphs 88-92Habitat Agenda, paragraph 228.d

Objective: The primary objective of HPDS is to assist States and other stakeholders to achieve the Habitat Agenda goal of adequate shelter for all, through improved housing policies and programmes, focusing on the commitment to the full and progressive realisation of the right to adequate housing as elaborated in international instruments.

Activities: The main thrust of the Section's current activities is the elaboration and implementation, together with OHCHR, of the United Nations Housing Rights Programme. This Programme was launched in April 2002, on the basis of resolutions adopted by the United Nations Commission on Human Settlements in 1997 and by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in 2001. Other activities are related to supporting governments and other stakeholders in housing development -- such as contributing to the development of co-operatives in the housing sector -- and policy advice for increasing effectiveness of enabling shelter strategies and programmes.

Flagship Products: UN-HABITAT has produced a wide range of publications, reports and documents within the three substantive areas covered by the Section. Several of these outputs were produced by the Shelter and Community Services Section (the predecessor of the Housing Policy Section) before the organisational restructuring in 1999. A number of publications on housing policy issues -- such as "Shelter for all: the potential of housing policy in the implementation of the Habitat Agenda" (1997), "Strategies to combat homelessness" (1999), "Shelter provision and employment generation" (1995), "Rental housing: An essential option for the urban poor in developing countries" (2003), "Housing rights legislation: Review of international and national legal instruments" (2002), and many others -- are available in electronic format. Other publications are currently available only in print.