Thank you, Simon. I’m very pleased to welcome all of you to the 7th World Bank and IFC Global Housing Finance Conference.
I am particularly pleased that we have both public and private sector delegates in the audience – Including lenders, policy makers, regulators, developers, investors, and donor agencies from over 30 countries. This is good, because it takes the expertise of all of you to tackle the challenges of providing housing to the poor.
This conference is important because it is closely aligned with the World Bank’s goals of ending poverty by 2030 and promoting shared prosperity. Ensuring access to adequate, safe, and affordable housing is also part of Sustainable Development Goal #11, which commits the global community to making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
By 2030, the global population will reach over 8 billion, with almost 60 percent living in cities. Urbanization is happening everywhere, but the transition is especially rapid in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
Cities are a source of wealth and growth. In fact, no country has reached middle income status without a high level of urbanization. Cities connect knowledge and innovation, people and opportunities, workers and jobs, capital and investments. But rapidly growing cities face deep challenges.
Cities can be a source of productivity but they require transportation systems, water and sanitation infrastructure, and of course housing. The rapid urbanization we are seeing is putting increasing pressure on the capacity of the public and private sector to deliver the housing needed. Where formal housing cannot be supplied, informal housing quickly fills the gaps and slums proliferate.
In the last few years, emerging markets have made great progress in addressing the challenge of safe and affordable housing. Still, a significant gap remains.