The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) was set up in 1947 by resolution No. 36 (IV) accepted on March 28, 1947 by The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) - the United Nations’ central platform for reflection, debate, and innovative thinking on Sustainable Development. The former Czechoslovakia was one of the founding members of the UNECE from March 28, 1947.
On the basis of the
so-called "succession" the Czech Republic is a member of the UNECE from January 19, 1993. The UNECE is one of five regional commissions of the UN.
UNECE's major aim is to promote pan-European economic integration. The UNECE includes 56 Member States in Europe, North America and Asia. However, all interested UN Member States may participate in the work of the UNECE. Over 70 international professional organizations and other non-governmental organizations take part in the UNECE activities.
 
The main UNECE activities areas are:
• Economic analysis,
• Care for the environment,
• Housing Policy,
• Urban Development,
• Statistics,
• Sustainable energy,
• The development of trade support,
• Industry and business,
• Forestry and transportation.
 
The technical cooperation focused on sharing experiences to countries with transitive economy, specifically to South-Eastern and Eastern Europe countries, the Caucasus and Central Asia has also major importance.
 
In the second half of 2014, the former Danish Minister for Development Cooperation, Mr. Christian Friis Bach, became executive secretary of the UNECE. He considered the UNECE - through concrete outputs and impacts on the lives of ordinary people - as "an undiscovered jewel on the international scene". The plenary session of the UNECE at the highest level is held once in every two years. In the meantime, the governing body is the Executive Committee (ExCom), which meets approximately in monthly basis. Its members are representatives of permanent missions to the UN in Geneva. The UNECE Sector Agendas are discussed in the so-called "Subsidiary bodies"; one of them is the Committee on Housing and Land Management.
 
Except for this Committee, where the Ministry of Regional Development is active (Czech Republic is the elected Vice Chairman), there are 7 Committees (for trade, statistics, transport, environment, forests and other sectors) operating within UNECE activities.
Housing and Urban Development within the regions of the Member States is operated by the UNECE Committee on Housing and Land Management, in which the Czech Republic has elective Bureau vice-chair position. Slovakia is the chair.
 
The Committee negotiated the text of theThe Geneva UN Charter on Sustainable Housing”. The Charter was officially approved by UNECE plenum in April 2015 as the UNECE contribution to the "Habitat III" Summit.
 
The Charter is based on "Strategy for Sustainable Housing" which was approved by the Ministers of UNECE regions Member States for 2014-2020 period at the meeting held in October 2013.
 
The importance of cities is crucial for the UNECE; this region is a home for almost 1,5 billion people, which represents 17% of world population. There are over 260 cities with more than 0,5 million inhabitants and creates over 40% of the world GDP.
 
The Committee activity is oriented practically and the main activities are focused on helping the least developed countries in the UNECE region - especially the Balkan states and the Caucasian republics. A key element of the Committee working programme are the "Country profiles", international teams of experts provides analysis and recommendations to individual Member States in the field of Urban Development, Housing, Real estate market, Urban planning, Social cohesion, etc.
 
The Czech Republic (the Ministry of Regional Development) is actively participating in the Committee activity - especially expert involvement in writing documents, participation in discussions during the workshops, seminars, etc., respectively organizing these workshops in the Czech Republic.
 
The Ministry of Regional Development also continuously cooperates with the Permanent Mission to the UN. The Ministry annually pays (since 2000) to the Committee Trust Fund a contribution of approximately 13 thousand EUR; the Trust Fund finance the participation of  least developed countries representation on Committee events. Czech Republic confirmed proactive approach to the issue of Housing and Urban Development within the framework of the UN international cooperation by its offer to organize the regional conference “European Habitat" for the 56 Member States of the UNECE region in Czech Republic in Prague in March 2016. The conference was very successful and contributed to the presentation of the Committee activity results (wide sphere of side events, distributing the The Geneva UN Charter on Sustainable Housing, etc.).
 
Official web pages: http://www.unece.org/info/ece-homepage.html    
 
Documents: The Geneva UN Charter on Sustainable Housing