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Geneva, 25 Nov 10

Un Techo Para mi Pais (A roof for my country), a youth-led NGO and winner of the Scroll of Honour in 2009, won the Housing and Urban Development South-South Transfer award for mobilizing 250,000 young volunteers to build of more than 73,000 transitional housing for families in slums or affected by natural disasters, and for transferring its innovative approach to 19 countries across Latin America.

The unique award was jointly presented by UN-HABITAT, the Building and Social Housing and Foundation (BSHF) and the UNDP Special Unit for South-South Cooperation at the Global South South Development Expo organized by UNDP with support from ILO and other UN agencies.

The Development Workshop’s Preventing Typhoon Damage to Housing programme in Vietnam received a special mention. The project, which has received four other awards including BSHF’s World Habitat Award in 2008, promotes principles of safe construction that can be easily applied by vulnerable communities and has been replicated in Indonesia, Myanmar, and Haiti.

Diane Diacon, Director of BSHF said that for over 25 years, her organization has been recognizing practical initiatives that are innovative, sustainable and transferable. BSHF research shows that these practices are being scaled up within their own countries and also transferred to other countries.

Speaking at the ceremony, UN-HABITAT’s Chief of Information Services, Jane Nyakairu, highlighted the importance of this award and others like the Habitat Scroll of Honour, Dubai Best practices award and World Habitat Award in helping to transfer and scale up best practices to achieve greater impact and mobilize action towards sustainable urbanization.

She said that the case of Un techo para Mi Pais shows young people taking the lead to help the poorest communities of Latin America by bringing together students, young professionals and privileged groups. The transfer model, applied in 19 countries, is adapted to volunteerism, housing policies and the political realities in the different countries.

The project is an excellent example of the enthusiasm and energy of youth to improve their living environments. It is initiatives like this that have led to the establishment UN-HABITAT’ Youth Opportunities Fund which gives financial support to youth-led initiatives that help to create jobs and improve living conditions and in urban environments.

The transfer award shows that knowledge transfer can realize real benefits on the ground. To promote such knowledge exchange, UN-HABITAT is developing a new online knowledge exchange platform, the Urban Gateway to promote sharing of best practices, collaboration, debate, and networking among urban practitioners around the world.

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