Housing is referred to as the centre of sustainable development. It is considered a social condition that influences the quality of life and welfare of people and places. It is globally recognised as a social necessity of life and one of the most important needs of man, after food. Sustainable housing offers rare opportunities to promote environmental conservation and economic development and also the quality of life and social equality while mitigating numerous precarious problems relating to population growth, urbanisation, slums, poverty, climate change, lack of access to sustainable energy and economic uncertainty. It also helps reduce the impact of the consumption of natural systems by keeping them within natural limits while simultaneously enabling the human systems to be optimised without impairing the quality of life.
However, this has always been a dilemma for many developing countries, which are still struggling to attain their targets of the sustainable development goal 11 of making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable. Similarly, in Pakistan, the availability of sustainable housing remains a nightmare, despite the government’s ambitious agenda to build five million affordable housing units in five years. Given the rapid population growth and climate change, housing schemes should focus on sustainability along with affordability. Estimates based on the Pakistan Social & Living Standard Measurement (PSLM) Survey show that around 21 per cent of housing units are not sustainable, even in terms of construction. At the same time, about 20 per cent of households do not have access to sanitation facilities. As per the experts, there are three significant aspects of housing: assessment of future needs, affordability, and sustainability, which must be considered when developing a national housing policy in Pakistan.
Sustainable housing acts as an instrument for the transformation of an economy. The housing activity significantly contributes to a growing revenue base for the government at the municipal level, improving the city’s ability to invest in further growth and deliver appropriate services to the breadth of its population. Considering the importance of sustainability, there is a need to revise the country’s existing housing policy to include the sustainability element. In this regard, the concerned authorities must revise regulations to ensure that new housing units developed by the private or public sectors should provide sustainability elements from social, economic and environmental perspectives.