In 2010, the American Planning Association (APA) began its work under the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA), an initiative launched and supported by President Obama as a collaborative effort to mitigate the effects of climate change across the western hemisphere. Four years later, APA has done just that by providing capacity building to professionals in countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean in planning techniques and most recently supporting four demonstration projects around the region who exemplify innovative and extraordinary solutions to sustainable urban housing and community development.
To celebrate APA’s Sustainable and Inclusive Housing and Community Development ECPA coming to a successful close, APA and its four partner organizations had one more opportunity to share the lessons learned, best practices, and challenges moving forward to a packed audience at Columbia University’s Studio X in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It served as an opportune moment to bring stakeholders together to reflect on the experience working with APA, but more importantly to have an honest discussion on how APA could continue to support the projects and to promote the valuable network established as a result of these projects.
Each project shared a common theme; they were selected for their high level of innovation in tackling the common challenges associated with urban housing and community development. Furthermore, each organization has committed themselves to projects that have not been done before in their particular context, whether it be on a small scale community level or larger metropolitan stage. There is no guidebook to follow, so they find themselves writing the guidebook. This means they are often presented with major obstacles, which can feel daunting and at times even set them back rather than propel them forward.
Our partners acknowledged that working with APA for the past year and a half was critical as receiving technical support to learn how to address some of these challenges minimized the setbacks and maximized progress potential. For example, APA worked closely with our partner ELIS as they sought to raise interest from private sector developers in the first mixed income housing development of Lima. This expertise and access to a vast network was invaluable to ELIS as they wrote the first request for proposal in country for a housing development project of this nature. While the projects have made tremendous strides, they continue to navigate unchartered territories. APA’s network and breadth of knowledge will be critical to their long-term success as our partners continue to blaze their own paths.
If you are interested in learning more about APA’s work in Mexico contact us through APA’s Sustainable and Inclusive Housing and Community Development Program homepage www.planning.org/international/ecpa/.