Habitat III Event: Triple Win: People, Public, and Private Partnerships for More Livable Cities and Communities

IHC Global hosted a session at the Habitat III conference called “Triple Win:  People, Public, and Private Partnerships for More Livable Cities and Communities”, where 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.  IHC Global President and CEO Judith Hermanson served as Moderator, introducing the topic by noting the importance of conceiving partnerships that are “PPPPs”—where the community is an equal and important stakeholder–rather than just “public-private” partnerships. She also noted that even if the physical and financial elements of a specific project vary from case to case, the principles can apply more generally.

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Speakers Gyuri Sumeghy, Judith Hermanson, Claudio Bernardes, and David Wluka at the Triple Win Event

David Wluka, a Realtor representing the National Realtor Association, and also an IHC Global board member, noted that in order for PPPPs to be successful, each partner must gain something from the partnership. Specifically, it is important that the private sector have a motivation for the partnership, as partnerships based on “charity” are not sustainable.  Gyorgy Sumeghy from Habitat for Humanity International in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa region, spoke about a PPPP his organization is involved in to improve residential energy efficiency for low-income households in Eastern Europe, specifically noting both the importance of and the difficulty in building trust between all partners. Claudio Bernardes, former President of Secovi-SP, the São Paulo Housing Syndicate, discussed examples of successful housing partnerships to improve cities in Brazil. A robust discussion with the audience followed, and the panelists noted that the examples they provided are only a few of many successful strategies for engaging in people-public-private-partnerships, and that successful examples should continue to build off of and learn from other successful examples.

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Habitat III Event: No Time to Waste: An Inter-active Dialogue Applying the Lessons from Latin America’s 50 Years of Housing Policies to Rapidly Urbanizing Countries

During the Habitat III conference in Quito, IHC Global celebrated the official release of a new publication entitled “No Time to Waste: Applying the Lessons from Latin America’s 50 Years of Housing Policies to Rapidly Urbanizing Countries” by Eduardo Rojas, former lead urban specialist at the Inter-American Development Bank. At an event at the Next City World Stage on Tuesday morning, Rojas discussed two key findings of his paper.

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Eduardo Rojas shares key findings from his paper.

First, that housing policy matters, but that not all policies and programs are equally effective.Many strategies that have been employed often, such as isolated low-income housing programs, are ineffective, while others that may have been looked on disfavorably, such as incremental approaches to housing, can actually be part of the solution. Second, Rojas noted that housing cannot be approached in an isolated manner, but must go hand in hand with urban planning in order to be effective.  Following his presentation, four respondents reacted to the report and conversed about how its findings can be applied to other country contexts. Margartia Greene from Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile applauded the paper for highlighting the importance of conceiving of housing and planning efforts together, but noted that the paper could have done more to discuss the effects of climate change and the housing lessons that can be learned after climate-related disasters.

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Panelists Kirtee Shah, Catalina Marulanda, Margarita Greene, and Hayder Ali respond to Rojas’ paper.

Catalina Marulanda from the World Bank stressed the importance of community engagement in housing projects, and affirmed the need to recognize the social dimensions of housing developments, as they facilitate the development of neighborhoods and communities. Kirtee Shah from KSA Design Planning Services shared the Indian perspective, noting the urgency of housing efforts in the Indian context due to the country’s rapid urbanization. Finally, Hayder Ali from the International Union of Architects and a practicing architect from Sudan, shared that the Sudanese government uses land as a commodity, and noted that civil society in Sudan can learn much from the Latin American example. The event led to a rich discussion about the importance of consistent, integrated, and practical housing policy that recognizes that housing is fundamentally about people.

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Public Private Partnerships for More Inclusive Cities

by Judith Hermanson

In order for cities to develop in a more equitable and sustainable way, forming a shared vision among the residents and stakeholders is a key starting point. In that way, everyone can have a “place at the table” and bring their issues and priorities to the fore. As these are adjudicated and compromises are reached, the result is a common vision of what is “do-able” and likely to succeed based on the particularity of that city (its social, economic and physical attributes) and to what it aspires. Often a city will be inspired by the “power of its place” – its geographic location, for example, supporting the development of tourism in the case of its history or environment or its availability of natural resources supporting the investment of certain industries.

In almost all cases, the availability of public resources may be insufficient. But if the private sector is part of the conversation and private investment is incentivized, there is a real possibility of a “win-win-win” situation for all involved. IHC Global believes that as focus turns to how cities are going to achieve the SDG 11 goal of becoming inclusive, resilient, safe and sustainable, the issue of financial resources will increasingly come to the fore. We believe further public private partnerships (PPPs) should be a key element in maximizing those resources.

There are many examples of successful PPPs, ranging from reclaiming waterfronts to new town development to affordable housing. There are also pitfalls in PPPs to be sure, and one of the easiest is surely insufficient inclusion and engagement of those who are going to be affected in shaping the vision and agreeing on any trade-offs. Criticisms that have been made of PPPs for sustainable communities and smart growth include excessive use eminent domain; “mixed use resulting in high end condos and low end jobs”; and the interface between major developments (e.g., transport hubs) and established communities.

However, none of these is inevitable. We have been inspired by many examples given in the recent articles in The Atlantic Monthly by James Fallows recounting his trip to small towns throughout the USA and the many different strategies that towns and cities are using to become more vibrant, economically sound and inclusive places. Particularly encouraging is the almost universal recognition of the need of greater inclusiveness for the city as a whole to prosper.

While circumstances among cities in the US vary widely and those among cities in other parts of the globe vary even more widely still, there is promise in finding examples and new ways in which all elements of a society can work together to achieve results that benefit them all. When trust is built, a shared vision achieved and leadership with integrity is present, then, we are indeed able to bring about fundamental positive change. This premise can apply equally to situations as diverse as the upgrading of informal settlements in low income countries to the revitalization of cities in high income countries that have lost their industrial anchors.

In the lead up to Habitat III, IHC Global believes that with this type of shared vision of a city based on trust and meaningful participation of those most affected, public-private partnerships, in their myriad forms, can be a key instrument used by cities to bring about local change for greater inclusiveness, resilience, safety and sustainability as envisioned under SDG 11, the Global Goal for cities.