Inauguration of the thirty-first meeting of the General Assembly of MINURVI
On December 5 and 6, the XXXI MINURVI Assembly was held at ECLAC headquarters, a regional meeting aimed at promoting adequate and decent housing, sustainable urban development, urban resilience and adaptation to climate change.
The meeting was inaugurated by Carlos Montes, Minister of Housing and Urbanism of Chile, country that holds the Presidency of the Minurvi Forum (2021-2022) together with Ecuador in the vice-presidency, and was attended by José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, Executive Secretary of ECLAC; Elkin Velázquez, Regional Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean of UN-Habitat; Georgiana Bragaz-Orillard, Regional Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean of UN-Habitat; Georgiana Braga-Orillard, Regional Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean of UN-Habitat; and Georgiana Braga-Orillard, Regional Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean of UN-Habitat; Georgiana Braga-Orillard, Representative in Chile of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP); Reina Irene Mejía, President (interim) of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and Emil Rodríguez, Director of Habitat and Sustainable Mobility of CAF-Development Bank of Latin America.
During the inauguration, Minister Montes emphasized that the main value of spaces such as the Minurvi Forum "is to build the capacity to question the city in order to transform it, to rethink how we want to live it and also to be able to allow other ways of making a city".
José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, Executive Secretary of ECLAC, recalled that Latin America is the most urbanized developing region on the planet, with 82% of its population living in cities, with 8 cities with more than 5 million people and 45 with more than 1 million inhabitants. Despite its importance, he warned, the resources allocated by the Central Government to the housing sector decreased on average in the region to represent 0.61% of GDP, a lower level than that recorded a decade ago.
The highest representative of the United Nations regional Commission also stressed that housing can generate reactivation and dynamism for economic activity and employment, within a framework of sustainability. He pointed out that ECLAC has estimated that a 1% increase in the growth of the construction sector leads to an expansion of 0.07% in the per capita GDP growth rate. José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs pointed out that the cost of construction per square meter has risen 23% between June 2021 and January 2022, a rise that has a serious regressive effect that conspires against the possibility of acquiring, building or improving housing solutions.
"If we add to this the high levels of poverty, labor informality and the slowdown in mortgage financing, we conclude that the likely scenario for the coming years is of an expansion of precarious settlements in our region, beyond the 17.7% of urban population that in 2020 lived in slums," he said.
The senior United Nations official stressed that land is a society's greatest asset, which is why it is essential that increases in its value -mainly resulting from public investment and regulation- be shared with society, as established in the New Urban Agenda. "Cities must become instruments of redistribution and inclusion, guaranteeing access to quality and safe public services and spaces. The location of housing and the role of sustainable mobility is fundamental," concluded Salazar-Xirinachs.
During the day, presentations were made by authorities on the different topics of the meeting, such as the role of the State in the coordination and planning of urban-housing policies with a gender perspective and climate change criteria, as well as the land market and financing, in the presence of guests from academia, civil society and local authorities.