Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

Most people today live in towns and settlements, and the numbers are rising every day. Some major cities are on the verge of collapse – they are simply bursting at the seams. It is a major challenge to make cities a healthy and safe environment for all.

In developing countries in particular more and more people are leaving the country and spilling into towns, where they hope to find better opportunities. Towns and settlements are spreading fast, yet in many places housing is in short supply, pushing prices up. More and more people around the world are living in wretched conditions in slums. In many places public transport is inadequate and air pollution is worsening. It is expensive and complex to provide so many people with safe water and electricity, and to dispose of waste correctly. Around the world cities are causing environmental damage on a horrendous scale.

What must be done?

Towns and cities must continue to be centres of innovation, trade, culture, science and progress. This is only possible though, if we manage to make towns and cities inclusive, sustainable places to live. And this presupposes good city planning, national strategies and regional development plans. Towns and cities must find ways of providing people with housing, reliable basic supplies of water, power, sanitation and waste management services, and transport systems, as well as offering safety and security, low pollution levels and natural areas for relaxation and recuperation.

Towns and cities in developing countries in particular must be better protected against flooding and other natural disasters. The international community must provide financial and technical support.

Facts and figures

  • Today half of the world’s population live in towns and cities. By 2050 this figure is forecast to rise to 80 per cent.
  • About one third of the urban population of developing countries live in slums.
  • Towns and cities account for only three per cent of the surface area of our planet, although they generate 75 per cent of global CO2 emissions.
  • The air breathed by half of all town and city dwellers contains at least two and a half times the maximum permissible limits of pollutants as set by the WHO.

11.1 Affordable housing

By 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums

11.2 Provide access to transport systems

By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons

11.3 Sustainable planning of urbanisation

By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries

11.4 Protect cultural and natural heritage

Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage

11.5 Disaster assistance

By 2030, significantly reduce the number of deaths and the number of people affected and substantially decrease the direct economic losses relative to global gross domestic product caused by disasters, including water-related disasters, with a focus on protecting the poor and people in vulnerable situations

11.6 Reduce environmental impacts

By 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management

11.7 Design of public spaces

By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities

11.a Links between urban and rural areas

Support positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, per-urban and rural areas by strengthening national and regional development planning

11.b Sustainable urban policy and disaster precaution

By 2020, substantially increase the number of cities and human settlements adopting and implementing integrated policies and plans towards inclusion, resource efficiency, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, resilience to disasters, and develop and implement, in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, holistic disaster risk management at all levels

11.c Sustainable building

Support least developed countries, including through financial and technical assistance, in building sustainable and resilient buildings utilizing local materials

“People’s wellbeing depends on how cities are built. Social networks, trust, security, communication, a shared sense of responsibility – none of this emerges where people live in anonymous high-rise buildings or where the wealthy hide behind walls. Public spaces are needed.”

Source: D+C

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SDG Academy: “Sustainable Cities” Online Course

Cities are home to half the world’s seven billion people and contribute to about three-fourths of global economic output. An additional three billion people are estimated to live in cities by 2050, increasing the urban share of the world’s population to two-thirds.