The Urban Economy Forum (UEF), in partnership with the Town of Collingwood and UN-Habitat hosted virtually the 3 rd Collingwood World Summit (CWS3): Habitat in Towns 2022, where town leaders gathered to discuss major topics related to sustainable housing and financing and promoting the UN Sustainable Development Goals from the context of towns.
Collingwood, November 2, 2022 – The annual 3 rd Collingwood World Summit brought together global town mayors, public and private sector partners, financial leaders, urban activists, academia, and the general public to discuss housing, sustainable municipal financing, and the achievement of the UN-Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from the perspective of towns and small cities.
Over 90 speakers from 50 countries and about 180 international towns and small cities participated and shared their knowledge and wise practices on how towns are major drivers for developing communities that are safe, equitable, resilient, and sustainable. Major themes that emerged from the 2-day summit included alternative and affordable housing, emerging financial models and tools for housing and climate action, the localization and performance measurement of SDGs at the town level, and forging an inclusive process for community participation and good governance.
The demand for housing continues to outpace supply in many countries including Canada. High inflation and increased interest rates worldwide also put housing out of reach for many. This phenomenon is increasing global inequality. To meet the forecast demand ‘hybridity’ of the housing system is essential, whereby social and affordable housing is increasingly financed, developed, and managed by a combination of government, community-based, and market providers, and cross-sector partnerships. No one sector can address the need alone. The summit reminds us that we aren’t working alone but together. And we’re working towards housing that includes everyone.
Sustainable and affordable housing is a critical topic in both towns and urban centers today. Participants emphasized the importance of considering the contextual needs of towns to maintain the urban fabric while also recognizing the need to identify creative solutions and innovative models for developing accessible and affordable housing while generating financial resources. Affordable housing financial tools include public-private partnerships, mixed tenure developments, tax subsidies for affordable supply, home ownership schemes, and build-to-rent and inclusionary planning mechanisms which all depend on different combinations of government subsidy, policy settings, and regulation. It must be noted that restructuring the housing finance system requires a strong emphasis on establishing strong partnerships with the private and non-profit sectors and all levels of government.
The Town of Collingwood aspires to be an SDG Town. Collingwood and Southern Georgian Bay will undertake sustainable town development initiatives based upon global best practices in collaboration with surrounding towns, communities, and local Indigenous peoples in southern Georgian Bay. Specifically, Collingwood will lead with pilot projects to demonstrate how towns can lead the conversation for sustainable urban development and achieving the SDGs. Pilot projects will be exhibited at the World Urban Pavilion in Regent Park- Powered by Daniels, a knowledge exchange hub to share best practices, innovation, and research in urban development and revitalization from countries around the world. In short, the World Urban Pavilion envisions sustainable towns and cities that are planned through data analyses, driven by innovation, and informed by the SDGs.
The CWS3 2022 Resolution is one of the main outcomes of the annual summit which highlights recommendations that town leaders and urban actors should consider to strengthen their local sustainable urban development and financial resources for a prosperous economy. The resolution also outlines the priorities of UEF and the Town of Collingwood for this year and leading up to next year’s summit. The 2022 Resolution will soon be available on the CWS3 website.
Another outcome is the launch of a Global Network of Town Leaders and the establishment of a secretariat to lead the voice of town leaders, both nationally and globally, and to balance the distribution of opportunities between metropolitan city centers and towns. Mayors are encouraged to join in this conversation.
I hope you leave the summit empowered to be bold and ambitious. Your voices and visions are needed. Hon. Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario
The mission of the summit is to promote the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs) and SDG 11 in particular – to build towns that are safe, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable.
MPP Brian Saunderson for Simcoe Grey County (Ontario)
It is important that we work together to create new innovative approaches to facilitate the urban transformation of our towns and small cities. Reza Pourvaziry, Chair of UEF
While the road ahead won’t be easy our ability to navigate swiftly, efficiently, and collaboratively is imperative. Mayor Keith Hull for the Town of Collingwood
Funding affordable housing is not a cost, but rather an investment in the well-being and social fabric of our communities. Paul Mason, Client Solutions at Scotia Bank
Every dollar we spend, lend or invest locally helps to shape our communities and impacts on our sustainability. Jack Vanderkony, Chair of Habitat for Humanity in South Georgian Bay, Canada
Sustainable housing and finance must be part of the solution in charting a pathway for sustainability and prosperity. 2022 Resolution
About the Partners
UEF’s mission is to work alongside local authorities and organizations worldwide to promote and enhance the achievement of the SDGs by sharing practical solutions and innovative approaches on sustainable urban development at the global scale.
Town of Collingwood
The Town of Collingwood is a progressive community located in the heart of a four-season recreation area on the southern shore of Georgian Bay. The area is well known for its many natural amenities and its rich heritage. Collingwood is a destination for tourism and many business, sporting, and cultural events. Collingwood acts as a gateway to the South Georgian Bay region, with stunning landscapes that encourage an active lifestyle, and inspire the local arts and culture community. Downtown Collingwood is the only downtown core recognized in Canada’s Registrar of Historic Places.
The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) is mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities. UN-Habitat is the focal point for all urbanization and human settlement matters within the UN system. They work with partners to build inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities and communities
Article by Urban Economy Forum