A central platform to exchange best practices and ideas guiding the infrastructure and urban development industry in its transformation, and helping it to address its key challenges.


Urban dwelling/favela next to multi-family home illustrating the need to create affordable housing and upgrade urban dwellings

Introduction to the Working Group on Affordability

by Mahmoud Hesham El Burai, Chief Executive Officer, Dubai Real Estate Institute, UAE 

Housing affordability continues to be alarming: more than 800 million people do not have adequate housing and 330 million are financially overstretched according to UN statistics. This affordability crisis continues to widen, leaving economic, social and environmental challenges to the communities and the world at large, badly impacting the 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted in September 2015 by the UN.

The real estate industry is required to be innovative in dealing the global housing affordability disaster, while discussing effective implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Worldwide, governments have failed to solve the affordability issue, and it is now up to the five Ps (Planet, People, Public & Private Partnership) to help find solutions. The Affordability Working Group explored the affordability challenge and solutions from several perspectives:

  1. The need to adopt a holistic view of affordable housing, implying community thinking and adequate infrastructure (physical and non-physical) rather than from a stand-alone basis, taking into account economic, social, environmental and cultural sustainability. This systemic thinking needs to be championed by system leaders who engage all stakeholders to be part of the solution.
  2. The role of technology in driving affordability while reducing negative impact on employment. Technology will play a bigger role in reducing cost/time of construction enabling mass production of affordable houses that are sustainable. Evolving technologies like 3D printing, BIM, Adidtaz and others are worth using to drive affordability. Citizen-driven approaches are an important part of this and by using technology, citizen voices will be heard.
  3. Planning high-density affordable housing is an important new direction rather than horizontal expansion that eats up land, which is the most costly element.
  4. Capital efficiency and design rethinking in driving affordability of homes, using design, value engineering and other tools to cut costs throughout the project life cycle. Innovative solutions throughout life cycle stages of the construction projects are important to achieving affordability.
  5. Innovative financing for affordable housing such as crowdfunding and public-private partnerships in making affordability projects successful are important factors to be integrated in the affordability strategy

In conclusion, affordable housing will not be possible with only government taking the lead: a multistakeholder approach is needed, with system leaders who see the big picture and integrate economic, social and environmental sustainability in their strategies and actions.

Please access all contribution of the Working Group on Affordability here.