A shift towards increasing sustainability of affordable housing and buildings has huge potential environmental benefits. The housing sector consumes significant amounts of energy with the overall building stock being responsible for more than 40 percent of global energy use[i] and representing the single largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions[ii].


Considering that 50% of the building stock that will exist in 2050 is yet to be built[iii], and that the housing sector represents in average 60% of the surface of cities; new housing construction is an opportunity for innovative solutions to mitigate environmental pressures and change in building practices to generate economic growth while providing adequate, attractive and affordable housing to a growing middle-class.


[i] UNEP (2009) Buildings and Climate Change: Summary for Policy Makers. Available online at:

http://www.unep.org/sbci/pdfs/SBCI-BCCSummary.pdf and European Commission (2011) Roadmap to a Resource-Efficient Europe.  COM (2011) 571 final. Brussels, 20.9.2011. Available online: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/resource_efficiency/pdf/com2011_571.pdf

[ii] Ruuska (2014) 'Material Efficiency of Building Construction'. Buildings 2014 (4), pp. 266-294. Available online at:


[iii] While in Europe it is expected that, by the year 2050, some 25-30% of the building stock will have been built, in developing countries that figure can be estimated at close to 75%. UN-Habitat (2015) Handbook for Sustainable Building Design for Tropical Climates. Page 5



Development of
new innovative materials geared for affordable housing.
Development of
Housing Studio Workshops to design affordable and sustainable housing solutions for vulnerable groups

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Leaving no one and no place behind

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Hover over or touch the icons to learn about UN-Habitat's work on social inclusion here.

The Global Platform for Sustainable Housing places housing at the centre of sustainable urbanisation and is therefore essential to the achievement of SDG Target 11.1. In the implementation of Agenda 2030 and the NUA, countries, and cities, at last, have the unique opportunity to integrate housing in concerted efforts to develop human rights-based, strategic and globally-aligned approaches towards inclusive and sustainable urban development.

The Global Platform for Sustainable Housing advocates for strong recognition of women, and gender groups in a vulnerable situation such as LGBT, in housing-related issues, as in many countries, such groups are also disproportionately affected by the challenges of affordability, land tenure, and thus sustainable and inclusive housing. These groups often have their housing rights violated, and often lack access to land titles and inheritance rights. This contributes to gender inequalities and to a power imbalance, leaving women and other groups with little independence or financial means.

Innovations in the housing sector, linked to sustainability, are directly related to employment generation for youth.

Sherpa, for instance, has strong considerations for the elderly, as one of the main components of the design tool is “accessibility criteria” enshrined in the Right to an Adequate Housing. This takes into account the need for all housing solutions to consider people that have reduced accessibility and mobility so that design is made in a universal manner, allowing all to utilize the designs in an efficient and safe manner.

All work promoted by the Platform considers universal access as stated above: the “accessibility criteria” enshrined in the Right to an Adequate Housing, which takes into account the need for all housing solutions to consider people that have reduced accessibility and mobility so that design is made in a universal manner, allowing all to utilise the designs in an efficient and safe manner.

Donors and partners

Active collaboration, communication, and sharing of knowledge between UN-Habitat and the members of the Global Platform for Sustainable Housing have been key in keeping the programme active and relevant in international for a, and in the development of impactful projects.

Our Experts

Christophe Lalande & Jesus Salcedo Villanueva
Housing Unit, Housing and Slum Upgrading Branch
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