The GHI assessment seeks to determine whether a country has:

  • Equitable land-use restrictions
  • Affordable building regulations
  • Updated urban plans and growth projections
  • Regulations that promote equitable development

Building codes and land-use regulations are necessary for many reasons. They ensure buildings are safe; that land-use is efficient; and that sensitive environmental areas are protected.

Regulations need to be carefully developed and periodically revisited and updated, because outdated regulations can inadvertently make housing less affordable. For example, caps on how tall buildings can be, or requiring very large lots can lead to shortages of housing and higher prices.  In addition, high fees or complicated processes to obtain building permits and approvals may push lower income residents into "illegal" housing.

Planning for urban growth

The World Bank estimates that cities worldwide will add nearly 2 billion people over the next 20 years.  Often urban growth occurs so rapidly that cities are left unprepared.  As a result, cities face overcrowding, an increase in informal construction, or sprawling unsustainable development on the urban fringes.  A better option for cities is to plan ahead by incorporating growth projections into their land use plans and zoning codes.  Policy changes such as re-zoning areas for higher densities or acquiring infrastructure right-of-ways for future expansion of still undeveloped areas can help cities accommodate rapid urban growth. 

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