Minister Sasi : Policies leading to insufficient housing should be evaluated internationally

According to Minister Kimmo Sasi, housing conditions in many areas of the world are insufficient and the direction in which conditions are developing is not necessarily positive, despite enormous investments in urban development. Many cities, with equal resource bases, have turned out very differently due to varying development policies. “We should evaluate the positive and negative features of various policies and approaches.Existing international cooperation, and The United Nations Centre for Human Settlements, can play an important role in this field”, Sasi said.
Minister Sasi opened the Special Session of the General Assembly for an Overall Review and Appraisal of the Implementation of the Habitat Agenda

“The challenges set forth in the Habitat Agenda, the plan of action for human settlements adopted in Istanbul in 1996, are of immense importance in the world today. We are witnesses to rapidly increasing urbanisation, a phenomenon that has moulded our living environment as has no other man-made development in the history of mankind. Due to rapid urbanisation irreversible changes are taking place that will have a decisive effect on our cities and other human settlements, Sasi pointed out in his opening statement.

He told that, In line with the spirit of the Habitat Agenda, Finland has promoted the right to adequate housing in legislation.An 1995 amendment to the constitution passed in 1995 and other legislation require that the authorities promote the development of housing conditions. The legislation mentions especially the homeless and those whose housing conditions are inadequate.The right to housing is not guaranteed, apart from specific exceptions, as a justiciable right. “

A key problem worldwide is the division of cities into high- and low-income areas. According to Sasi Finland has, as a central issue in housing policy, made concerted efforts to ensure a social mix of inhabitants in all residential areas. Various measures have been applied to achieve this, for example, by locating social and other housing in the same areas.

“Local authorities are central to success in meeting many of the challenges set by the Habitat Agenda. In Finland, municipalities have played a key role. The decentralisation of administration and decision-making has given local authorities more financial and operational independence.and increasing possibilities for individuals to take part in the development of their community. “

In Istanbul, five years ago, Finland underlined the significance of regional and community structure in diminishing emissions of greenhouse gases. Sasi described how Finland is working to curb urban sprawl through integrating new development within the existing city structure, and promoting an environmentally friendly transportation system. “We are also working hard to decrease air pollution and increase the efficiency of our energy production systems. For example, during the last two decades, nitrogen and sulphur dioxide emissions have been reduced by 70 - 80% in Helsinki, yet energy production has increased steadily. Highly developed technology has brought the efficiency of our combined heat and energy production to over 90%. Finland’s experience shows that air quality can be improved, without negative effects on production.”