Build Solid Ground

Build Solid Ground is a global campaign for access to homes and housing rights of the NGO Habitat for Humanity International. It builds upon the previous campaign Solid Ground, a pilot campaign implemented by habitat Bulgaria between 2015 – 2017. It is funded by Development Education and Awareness Raising (DEAR) as part of the Directorate-General for International Corporation and Development (DG DEVCO).

The 3 year project (1.11.2017 – 31.01.2021) was implemented by 14 partners from 7 European Countries including Bulgaria. The aim of the project is to increase critical understanding and active engagement of European citizens within the global goals for sustainable development, in particular SDG 11 Sustainable cities and Communities. The project is also in relation to the new urban agenda adopted by the global conference of the United Nations, “Habitat III”, for initiating the global housing development and the right to access land for housing needs.

On 28 and 29 may 2018 Habitat Bulgaria hosted the international conference “Sustainable cities – new opportunities and challenges that the municipalities face”. Experts from more than 10 countries took part, presenting various practices and aspects for sustainable development of the cities to 120 participants. The main topics of the conference corresponded to those already adopted in September 2015, at the UN Sustainable Development “transforming the world”. They also corresponded to the policies adopted in October 2015 in Quito, Ecuador during the UN Third Global Conference on Housing Policies and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), New Urban Agenda. The international conference was supported by the President of the Republic of Bulgaria, the embassy of the Netherlands in Bulgaria, the National Association of the Municipalities in Bulgaria, the Municipal network for energy efficiency EcoEnergy, the National Coalition for improvement of the housing conditions “Decent Home”, institutions, municipalities and NGO’s. Click below to view the conference highlights.

On 9th April 2019, Habitat Bulgaria organised the Third National Housing Forum “Access to home and renovating the poor neighbourhoods”. With the previous housing forums, Habitat Bulgaria raised the awareness of institutions and the public on the necessity for improving living conditions within the country. In 2019, the organisation focused on the increasing need for the right to access a home, and renovating poorer neighbourhoods both nationally and internationally. The main focus of the forum were topics related to “Agenda 2030”, the Global Goals for Sustainable Development of the United Nations and Goal 11 in particular: Access to Home for everyone, and renovating the poor neighbourhood’s by 2030; initiatives of the Non-Governmental sector for improving the living conditions and partnerships with municipalities for implementing housing policies; good practices of Bulgarian municipalities for improving housing conditions for poor neighbourhood’s. The third national housing forum was instigated within the framework of project Build Solid Ground and was supported by the French Institute of Bulgaria and Wienerberger Group.

With the National Housing Forums held in 2013, 2016 and 2019, Habitat Bulgaria has put a strong emphasis on the growing need to secure access to housing and renovation of the poor neighbourhoods. In 2021, the organization builds up these issues by organizing the Fourth National Housing Forum “Overcoming the housing and energy poverty – a prerequisite for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals”. The UN Agenda 2030, called “Transforming the World: Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development”, lays out the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Bulgaria’s first Voluntary National Review (2020) of the implementation of the SDGs has presented a valuable opportunity to take stock of the progress made, to identify challenges and to map out future steps for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. It covers all 17 Goals. Bulgaria shares the main message of the 2030 Agenda for “leaving no one behind” and strongly advocates the link between the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the protection of human rights. Several goals are directly related to the right to adequate housing and the right to energy: Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere; Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all; Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

These urgent global goals determined the main highlights of the forum agenda. A total of 90 participants united in their position that Bulgaria, as a Party to several international agreements, has committed itself to achieve the set goals, but five years after the adoption of the UN Agenda 2030, the level of implementation is unsatisfactory. Key challenges to SDG implementation persist. One of the most important tasks ahead is the creation of a national mechanism for coordination and implementation of the SDGs. Such a mechanism should be located within the executive power. Among its main objectives will be monitoring SDG implementation, ensuring coordinated dialogue and designing sustainable development policies. All recommendations prioritised by participants will be issued in a formal statement to help developing sound and pragmatic long-term national policies. The forum is implemented within the Build Solid Ground project, approved and funded by the Development Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO) under the Development Education and Awareness Raising (DEAR) strand. Watch the recording of the event below.

Habitat Bulgaria has successfully implemented a series of informative events in thirty Bulgarian municipalities and four universities, dedicated to the challenges and opportunities of urbanization. Volunteer initiatives to improve the urban environment were also held in support of the events in these cities. In 2018, 2019 and 2020, the campaign involved the municipalities of Smyadovo, Targovishte, Antonovo, Gabrovo, Kyustendil, Dupnitsa, Nessebar, Burgas, Sungurlare, Sofia – Nadezhda District, Simitli, Pavlikeni, Lyaskovets, Gorna Oryahovitsa, Botevgrad, Samokov, Mezdra, Stara Zagora, Lom, Pravets, Troyan, Pleven, Svilengrad, Kardzhali, Dobrich, Provadiya, Vratsa, Oryahovo, Varna – Asparuhovo District and Sofia – Sredets District, as well as the following universities – University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy (UACEG), New Bulgarian University (NBU), Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski ”(Sofia University) and University of Forestry (LTU). More than 2500 participants, including representatives of the municipal administration, youth and non-governmental organizations, citizens and the media, actively participated in the initiatives.

About Solid Ground:
Habitat for Humanity launched Solid Ground, a global advocacy campaign to improve access to land for shelter. The four-year campaign, which committed to influencing land policies and systems, resulted in more than 3 million people with increased access to safe and secure land in over 40 countries around the world.