|Housing and Environment - Report of the Vienna Workshop (HABITAT, 1999, 394 p.)|
Promoting housing development and sustainable construction practices has always been central to the work of the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat) over the past two decades. We are aware that the prevailing limitations of the housing sector and the environmental implications of the construction industry cannot be tackled universally, even though there are quite a number of common problems everywhere. Besides the commonality of the problems, the solution to the housing issues in most central and eastern European countries must be taken from different perspectives than elsewhere in the world.
The Regional Workshop on Housing and Environment took place at the right time and at the right place. At the right time because 1999 marked the tenth anniversary of the start of political and economic reforms in these countries. The Workshop offered an opportunity to make an assessment of the housing conditions and by taking stock of successes and failures over the past ten years, provided an insight into policies and courses of future actions required to tackle the current problems.
The Workshop took place at the right place, because Vienna, on the one hand is the bridge between eastern and western Europe and, on the other hand, has achieved enormous success in providing adequate housing for all segments of society and has undertaken considerable work in promoting environmentally sound construction. It is hoped, that following this Workshop, a basis is established for a meaningful dialogue and cooperation between professionals as well as policy makers of that region with their counterparts from Austria and other western European countries.
Following the adoption of the Habitat Agenda by the second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (HABITAT II) in Istanbul in June 1996, it has become obvious that nowhere in the world can the Governments take the sole responsibility for providing housing and social services to their people. It is the private sector and other non-governmental bodies that must take the initiative of providing adequate housing. Indeed, the enabling approach advocated by HABITAT II underscores the need to empower the private sector and other partners of the civil society to work together and with their Governments in addressing housing, construction and urban environmental problems.
I wish to express my appreciation to all key participants for their valuable contribution towards the Workshop. I am, specifically, thankful to the City of Vienna for co-financing the Workshop and the printing costs of this publication. The efforts of Mr. Baris Der-Petrossian of UNCHS (Habitat) in coordinating the preparations of the event and producing this publication are thankfully acknowledged. It is hoped that this publication will be useful and that it will stimulate further contacts and cooperation among all stakeholders at national, regional and international levels.
Acting Executive Director, UNCHS (Habitat)