Habitat for Humanity Thailand organized a panel discussion for the media prior to the seventh Asia-Pacific Housing Forum, which will be held on 16-19 September 2019 at the Grand Hyatt Erawan, Bangkok, Thailand. The panel members were experts in the housing sector and are key participants in the upcoming Housing Forum.
The Asia-Pacific forum is one among Habitat’s many initiatives in leading the way in growing awareness of housing as a critical foundation for eliminating barriers to a better, healthier, more financially stable life. It is a sector-wide platform for advocates of affordable housing who seek to craft innovative solutions through cooperation across different spheres.
Along with panel discussions and training courses, the forum will be holding the Innovation Awards. Elaborating more on the awards, Jennifer Oomen, the Associate Director of Market Systems and Entrepreneurship of the Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter-Habitat for Humanity International, said that, ‘Through this forum, Habitat for Humanity wants to celebrate the innovation and transformation that have taken place in the industry which will allow us to build sustainable cities in the future.’
Expanding on the Innovation Awards Jennifer added, “The Innovation Awards will take place on the 17th of September 2019, and will be joined by various civil society organizations, government organizations, as well as young innovative entrepreneurs who will give their presentations in TED style”
One of the panelists who spoke to media, Kotchakorn Voraakhom, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Porous City Network, mentioned how the overall forum will help the housing sector in Thailand. She emphasized that adding green areas into the city should be a ‘basic infrastructure’ when building a resilient home or a city. It is necessary to enable balanced and sustainable housing. That’s why this forum can be used to bring together different stakeholders to promote good living conditions. “Through the exchange of best practices and experiences from Asia-Pacific, we would be able to create an enabling environment and develop innovative solutions to improve the housing sector, including building cities that are resilient to climate change” she added.
Dr. Poon Thiengburanathum, Deputy Director – Chiang Mai University School of Public Policy, said this is now the time where all sectors should unite to help address the problems and act on the importance of shelter as a driver of inclusion, resilience and sustainability in human settlements.
While Pornwarit Chounchaisit, president of the Thai Real Estate Association, shared his views on the situation of affordable housing, “We all should understand that affordable housing in the cities is equally needed as in the municipalities. The current problem is that 70 percent of the budget goes to big cities and there is not enough left for local communities. Moreover, resilient and affordable housing should be treated as a basic necessity for human beings. This is why it is not only the responsibility of the public sector but must be a collaboration between organizations, both public and private, to positively affect the low-cost housing sector.”
Tim Loke, Chief Executive Officer of Habitat for Humanity Thailand, shed light on the main challenges in the affordable housing sector. He indicated that the issues stem from the lack of access to affordable, sustainable housing products and services. Moreover, low-income households do not have easy access to financial institutions that are willing to loan them the amount needed for home improvements and repairs.
Habitat for Humanity believes that the knowledge and partnerships gained from this forum will be a positive step towards achieving decent, affordable housing for lower-income and vulnerable families, whether it be through improved construction practices, sustainable materials, and innovative approaches.
The Asia-Pacific forum is one among Habitat’s many initiatives that aims at leading the way in growing awareness of housing as a critical foundation for eliminating barriers to a better, healthier, more financially stable life for Thailand, and the rest of Asia and the Pacific.