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Business action [clear filter]
Wednesday, November 28
 

8:30am

Investing in the Human Right to Housing
Organized by OHCHR

Brief description of the session:
This session will discuss what steps investors in residential real estate should take to exercise human rights due diligence, in line with the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, to avoid negative impacts on the right to adequate housing and support the realization of Target 11.1 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (ensuring adequate housing for all by 2030).
The session will continue the conversation started at last year’s Forum on Business and Human Rights amongst diverse stakeholders on the ‘financialization of housing’ and its relationship to the realization of the right to adequate housing. In her 2017 report, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing called on States and the private sector to give priority attention to the social function of housing and called for more engagement and dialogue between States, human rights actors, international and domestic financial regulatory bodies, private equity firms and major investors.

Session objectives: 
  • To consider what practical steps investors in residential real estate should take to exercise human rights due diligence, in line with the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, with a focus on measures to avoid negative impacts on the right to adequate housing;
  • To consider how real estate investors by preventing adverse human rights impacts will also contribute to the realization of Target 11.1 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (ensuring adequate housing for all by 2030).
  • To stimulate debate about remedies that could be employed to ensure access to justice, and accountability of financial institutions and private actors for the right to housing.

Key discussion  questions: 
  1. What steps should real estate investors take to exercise human rights due diligence in order to respect the human right to adequate housing?
  2. How can States, private actors, and NGOs and others work together to help ensure that real estate investment does not adversely impact the right to adequate housing?
  3. What steps can be taken by different stakeholders to promote real estate investment practices that will contribute to the commitments to ensuring adequate housing for all by 2030?

Format of the session:
8:30-8:40 Introduction of the issue by moderator
8:40-9:10 Question
9:10-9:40 Scenario
9:40-9:45 Wrap-up

Background to the discussion:
At a time of rapid urbanization worldwide, the financialization of housing has been linked to soaring land and property values and unprecedented displacement of the poor. Capital investment in real estate is deemed a smart investment with assured returns. Investments of pension funds, for example, demanding strong returns are increasingly moving towards real estate investment. So far, adverse impacts of certain investments in real estate and housing on the right to adequate housing have not received sufficient attention.
Recently, a number of States have started to implement policy responses to prevent adverse human rights impacts of the financialization of housing through taxation and incentives. Also there is an increasing recognition of the independent responsibility of investment institutions to exercise human rights due diligence in line with the United Nations Guiding Principles and other relevant frameworks, such as the OECD MNE Guidelines, OECD guidance for institutional investors, and the Principles for Responsible Investment.
Little attention has been given to the role that private investment in housing must play if States are to realize target 11.1 of the SDGs to ensure access to adequate housing by all by 2030, and how the application of human rights norms and standards with respect to effective remedies in this sphere could alter the role of private investment – from one which undermines the right to housing to one which facilitates its realization.


Moderator/ Introductory Remark...
NF

Natacha Foucard

Chief, Sustainable Development Section, OHCHR

Speakers
avatar for Manuel Aalbers

Manuel Aalbers

Professor of Human Geography, KU Leuven, the University of Leuven
Manuel B. Aalbers is full professor of Human Geography at KU Leuven/University of Leuven (Belgium) where he leads a research group on the intersection of real estate, finance and states, spearheaded by a grant from the European Research Council. He has also published on financialization... Read More →
JD

Jory David Cohen

Director of Investment and Finance, Inspirit Foundation
LF

Leilani Farha

Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing
KS

Kevin Stein

Deputy Director, California Renvistment Coalition


Wednesday November 28, 2018 8:30am - 9:45am
Room XXIV