As campaign director, I get geeky for what is in store for Solid Ground as we start a new year. We are a year and a half into our 3-year campaign, and we have accomplished so much. We set a goal of increasing access to land for shelter for 10 million people, and our network has already influenced policy and systems projected to benefit nearly 2 million people around the world – from Honduras to the Philippines and many places in between. Habitat organizations and partners are implementing the campaign in 37 countries worldwide – each tailoring advocacy approaches and land policy solutions based on their local context. We sponsored Habitat for Humanity’s first regional conference in Africa, focused on land governance and management; implemented LABs across Latin America to build and leverage multi-stakeholder networks to address local challenges; co-hosted a global learning exchange on land and a regional one in Asia-Pacific; and we successfully advocated to the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU) to influence the New Urban Agenda (NUA) and the European Consensus on Development respectively.

As we build on the momentum and success we have seen so far, I want to share with you what I am most excited about in 2018.

1. The World Urban Forum: A key platform for sharing our progress in implementing the New Urban Agenda

We welcomed the adoption of the New Urban Agenda in October 2016 at Habitat III and support its emphasis on adequate and affordable housing, secure land tenure and community-led development. The NUA is highly ambitious, and it will take partnership and mutual accountability, political will, resources, innovative approaches and a sense of urgency.

The ninth session of the World Urban Forum (WUF9) will take place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia February 7-13. The theme – Cities 2030, Cities for All: Implementing the New Urban Agenda – serves as a check-in on current progress of implementing the NUA as well as a launching point towards the review of Sustainable Development Goal 11. Further, WUF9 will offer an opportunity for the global community to welcome the newly appointed UN-Habitat Executive Director, Maimunah Mohd Sharif.

We will leverage WUF9 to amplify our message – calling on all stakeholders to work together to help create an enabling environment and establish urban plans and policies that prioritize adequate and affordable housing, secure land tenure and community-led development, fostering sustainable cities where everyone has a decent place to live. And we believe national governments and the UN have a unique leadership role to play in creating frameworks to enable stakeholders to implement the NUA.

2. The Review of Sustainable Development Goal 11

Together, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the NUA serve as a roadmap for sustainable urban development. Adopted in September 2015, the SDGs include goal 11 calling to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable” and a target to ensure access to adequate, safe and affordable housing for all by 2030.

In the SDGs, governments emphasized that a robust, voluntary, effective, participatory, transparent and integrated follow-up and review framework would make a vital contribution to implementation, promoting accountability to citizens, supporting active international cooperation in achieving the SDGs and fostering exchange of best practices and mutual learning. Come July, the UN will be holding a High-level Political Forum focusing on “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient cities.” As access to land for shelter plays an important role in achieving SDG 11, the approaching review of SDG 11 will provide the opportunity to advocate for the needed changes to successfully achieve SDG 11 worldwide.

3. Deepening existing partnerships and building new ones

Solid Ground has benefitted from the commitment of 17 global partners, and 2018 brings even further opportunities to collaborate; increasing both our reach and capacity. We will co-organize a workshop in March with the Land Portal Foundation, LandMark and Resource Equity to develop action plans to increase access to land. We will attend the UN-Habitat’s Global Land Tool Network 7th Partners Meeting in April, “moving tenure security for all to the next level.” Partnership with organizations like Landesa and the World Bank will continue to address barriers preventing women from accessing land, change norms and promote understanding. We look forward to growing both the breadth and depth of our partnerships as the year continues.

4. Even more capacity building and learning

Solid Ground has played an integral role in facilitation across our network. Recently, we issued the third round of challenge grants to ten Habitat national organizations — the greatest number of grants issued in one year — to accelerate and propel advocacy efforts to increase access to land for shelter. In April, we will share results from a mid-term review of Solid Ground’s work with lessons learned impacting the effectiveness of the latter half of the campaign and to inform future campaigning efforts. In March you will find us participating in the 2018 World Bank Land and Poverty Conference, incorporating campaign practices on multi-stakeholder engagement, urban land conflicts in Latin America and open data as a mechanism for social change for vulnerable urban communities, and poster displays on rural-urban linkages and innovative ideas to collaboratively build policy consensus.

5. Broadening public support for access to land for shelter

Visibility leads to accountability, and we believe that strong public support for the critical issue of land access for shelter will call on policymakers to support good land policies and systems. For this reason, we look forward to several significant moments in the coming year to amplify our message and build broader public support. This month, we will officially launch a grant from the European Union (EU) to facilitate awareness, education and active engagement of Europeans in support of global housing, land, urban issues and the commitments to achieving SDG 11 and the NUA. The project will span 12 EU countries over the next 36 months leading to over five million EU citizens gaining enhanced understanding of and capacity to support global sustainable development. The UN’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), will provide an opportunity to elevate land rights, collaborate with partners on side events, facilitate dialogues and highlight women’s property rights as foundational.

We have a full plate as we embark on this New Year and we are excited for you to be a part of our work to create the foundation for better housing. As you too begin to look forward to what 2018 will bring, do you have your own ideas on access to land for shelter? Let us know at