National Housing Forum

In 2013, with the financial support of Wienerberger Group, Habitat for Humanity Bulgaria founded the National Housing Forum, for discussing local and national housing policies, strategies and issues. The forum is a representative platform for communication and the sharing of good practices between the relevant Bulgarian institutions and stakeholders – local authorities, business sectors, non-government organisations and academic institutions.

On 31.10.2013, Habitat Bulgaria organized the First National Housing Forum, with the support of Wienerberger Group and the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works (MRDPW). Over 50 representatives of various organisations, municipalities, businesses and NGO’s attended the forum. The main topics were: national housing policy and its legal framework; mechanisms for improving housing conditions with the support of operational programme “Regional Development 2007-2013”, and the new operational programme “Regions in Growth 2014-2020”; good practices and examples of partnerships for resolving housing issues of Habitat for Humanity Bulgaria and the policy and corporative social responsibility of Wienerberger Group. The forum ended with a ceremony to award the keys from the two newly built houses in Kostinbrod to families raising underage children with low incomes.

On 26.04.2016, Habitat Bulgaria organized the Second National Housing Forum, again supported by Wienerberger Group and the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works (MRDPW). Over 80 representatives of various organisations, municipalities, businesses and NGO’s attended the forum. The main topics were: the necessity of new National Housing Strategy; the opportunities for implementing municipal housing strategies; energy efficiency of the buildings; the improvement of the programmes for energy efficiency and recommendations for their optimisation; challenges faced by municipalities; the living conditions of vulnerable and marginalised groups; good practices in the field of social housing; sustainable planning of areas with compact Roma populations; social housing.

On 09.04.2019, Habitat Bulgaria organized 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 with a focus to the 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 a housing policy; 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 the 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 HERE.