Eleven finalists from the global competition, "Sustainable Urban Housing: Collaborating for Livable and Inclusive Cities," participated in the first Learning Summit and Award Ceremony this week at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. This competition was launched in anticipation of the 2012 Summit of the Americas in Colombia, and in support of President Obama's Energy and Climate Partnership for the Americas (ECPA). It brought together a diverse group, including individuals from the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Rockefeller Foundation, Ashoka Changemakers, and the American Planning Association, with support from the Brazilian Ministry of Cities.
Practitioners from the public and private sectors exchanged ideas about the challenges of urbanization. Capacity building sessions, mentoring opportunities, and panel discussions supported the shared effort to create a network of urban planners who promote green building, energy efficient housing, and sustainable transport to low-income communities.
How is the U.S. government involved? We are committed to exploring innovative ways to address the effects of climate change on marginalized communities in urban areas. We encourage the development of homes that use architectural design and construction material that create more sustainable, energy-efficient housing.
Proposals that reached the final phase of the Ashoka/Rockefeller competition presented innovative solutions for sustainable, energy-efficient housing that unleashes economic opportunities for the urban poor and builds smarter, cleaner cities around the world. Eight of the finalists and the three winners are from organizations in the Western Hemisphere. The competition winners from Argentina, Brazil, and the United States were chosen through global public voting and will receive $10,000 from Ashoka Changemakers to scale up their projects.
In remarks during the award ceremony, Acting Assistant Secretary of State Jacobson also announced that the Department of State intends to provide $1.1 million in U.S. assistance to support sustainable and inclusive housing efforts in the Americas. She said, "The mission will be to harness the ideas that have emerged from this competition, and assist local sustainable and inclusive housing organizations in the Americas in taking these concepts to the next phase of planning and operation.” The 2012 Summit of the Americas will showcase these ECPA success stories.
Click here to view the Sustainable Urban Housing finalists and winners.
Leah Severino is a Pickering Fellow at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C.