IBSA Human Settlements Group Calls for Greater Focus on the Urban Poor in SDGs

India, Brazil and South Africa are cooperating closely on human settlements issues to learn from each other and explore the potential of housing to be a driver of socio-economic development.
The India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Human Settlements Group has called for a greater emphasis on the urban poor in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Post 2015 development agenda.
The resolution – which was endorsed at the recent Human Settlements Group meeting in May 2013 – will inform the next IBSA Summit, which was due to be held in June 2013 but is in the process of being rescheduled.
India, Brazil and South Africa have been cooperating closely on human settlements issues since 2008 to learn from each other and explore the potential of housing to be a driver of socio-economic development. 
The Human Settlements Group in particular was created to focus on housing and provision of basic services for the poor as a means of poverty alleviation.
The Cities Alliance and the World Bank Institute (WBI) have worked together to support the IBSA Human Settlements Group since 2009, facilitating cooperation among the three countries and providing technical and financial assistance.
This facilitating support has been for developing a draft action plan for cooperation as well as an operational framework, launching a human settlements website, conducting virtual thematic exchanges, as well as holding workshops and meetings.
In addition to the resolution on advocacy for the urban poor, delegates at the May 2013 meeting in New Delhi approved the draft action plan for cooperation and operational framework. The action plan focuses on four pillars: policy dialogue, joint research, technical cooperation, and knowledge management. Members agreed to organise one workshop annually, on a rotating basis, around a particular theme.
Other key decisions at the May meeting included creation of an IBSA Human Settlements fund with an annual contribution of USD 100,000 per member, and a resolution to position the IBSA partnership as a knowledge provider to promote technical assistance in the South. 

Promoting South-South Learning
The IBSA Human Settlements Group has developed into a unique platform for cooperation and learning among three countries that are all grappling with similar housing challenges, including resource mobilisation and the low priority assigned to developing alternative low-cost, locally available, sustainable building technologies.
All three also have similar national policies that are inclusive and aimed at addressing a range of social problems, and all have undertaken a variety of different approaches to slum upgrading. As such, they are in an ideal position to learn from each other and identify common solutions, better enabling them to design appropriate policies and programmes that contribute to their development goals.
The IBSA cooperation on human settlements issues also has tremendous learning value for other developing countries. It can potentially help them formulate more effective housing and human settlement strategies, and help them unlock additional technical and financial resources by fostering stronger engagement with international development agencies.
For the Cities Alliance, working with the IBSA Human Settlements Group has been a very positive experience. It has allowed the Cities Alliance to showcase its capacity as a knowledge facilitator, and provided two longstanding members – Brazil and South Africa – with the opportunity to tap into our members' experience in integrated slum upgrading as they shape their human settlements strategies.