Volunteers removing rubble after Nepal earthquake

Asia-Pacific forum turns focus on disaster resilience

Habitat for Humanity convenes housing experts in ramped-up Asia-Pacific forum

HONG KONG (May 24, 2017) – When Nepal was struck by two massive earthquakes in 2015, not only was there a tremendous loss of life, homes and livelihoods were destroyed as well. Two years on, national efforts and international partnerships are helping the country get back on its feet. Alongside other organizations, Habitat for Humanity has helped affected families rebuild their homes through the provision of materials, technical services, volunteer labor and local capacity building.

Community resilience initiatives, including Nepal’s national rebuilding program and others in the region, will be in focus when experts and stakeholders from the housing industry meet at the sixth Asia-Pacific Housing Forum in Hong Kong this September.

“It is a great and urgent need to provide affordable housing in the Asia-Pacific region. While natural disasters are stark reminders of this pressing concern, the lack of decent housing is a daily reality for many people in the region,” said Rajib Shaw, a professor at Keio University in Japan. Shaw is a Forum moderator and previously served as the executive director of the Integrated Research on Disaster Risk program in China.

5th Asia-Pacific Housing Forum in Hong Kong
Engaging participants at the fifth Asia-Pacific Housing Forum in Hong Kong in 2015.

“This year’s forum is the most extensive thus far—in content and global impact,” said Rick Hathaway, Asia-Pacific vice president of Habitat for Humanity International. “The forum is introducing outreach activities that highlight the multi-sectorial initiatives advancing the discussions toward decent housing solutions. An Asia-Pacific Youth Congress will explore the role of the youth in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals—building from the experiences of Habitat for Humanity and other organizations in developing the next generation of leaders.”

A first for the forum is an outreach activity called the INNOVATE.SHELTER competition, which offers civil society or grassroots organizations a platform to showcase their innovative ideas and how these ideas are helping solve housing issues in their local communities.

Additionally, preliminary housing forum events are happening in Indonesia, Cambodia, Philippines, and India in the months leading up to the main forum in September. These national-level conversations will advance the agenda for shelter and sustainable development by tackling local housing challenges and solutions. Key takeaways from the preliminary events will be presented at the regional Hong Kong Housing Forum in September.

In an unprecedented collaboration, key sector organizations are working together to develop the Forum’s theme “Housing at the Center” and agenda. Over 300 speakers, moderators and delegates will exchange ideas and best practices on:

  • Resilience and social development
  • Technology for affordable housing
  • Innovative partnerships and
  • Sustainable urbanization and housing

Specifically, discussions will cover the latest technologies ranging from satellite mapping methodologies, web applications and construction materials; and potential and critical multilevel partnerships to help advance the Sustainable Development Goals. Other sessions will look at creating a shared commitment among stakeholders to collaborate in solving different aspects of poverty and advance inclusive and long-term local and national housing policies.

The forum will also help articulate practical ways forward to combine the concept of resilience with housing, including the implementation of the New Urban Agenda and other initiatives that focus on housing as a central element for sound urban development. Speakers include: Matthew Cua, founder and CEO of SkyEye (Philippines); Vidhee Garg, principal, Affordable Housing Institute, (United States); Anaclaudia Marinheiro Centeno Rossbach, regional adviser, Latin America and Caribbean Cities Alliance (Brazil); Richard Welford, chairman CSR Asia (Hong Kong); Paul Zimmermann, founder and CEO, Designing Hong Kong (Hong Kong); Maura Wong, CEO of The Idea (Hong Kong).

The Asia-Pacific Housing Forum is a biennial conference organized by Habitat for Humanity. Since it was first held in 2007, the event has brought together more than 3,400 participants from over 52 countries. In 2017, the sixth Housing Forum will be held from September 4-7 in Hong Kong. Visit for more details or subscribe to the newsletter for regular updates.