Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
By the year 2050, nearly 70% of the global population is expected to live in urban areas. That fact alone should be enough to explain the urgency of SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities and achieving the SDG 11 indicators. With the population of the world expected to be near 10 billion people by then, that means nearly 7 billion people will be living in urban environments. So if we think there are infrastructure issues now, we may be headed towards much worse. The Sustainable Development Goals are of course meant to define and tackle the world’s greatest challenges. Crowded urban environments are the cause for many of these issues, from health to sanitation, housing to the environment. So, how are we doing in tackling this fundamental goal?
Inclusivity focuses on the problem of inequality that tends to be associated with (if not exacerbated by) urban economic systems and infrastructure to varying degrees. Greater access to basic services, such as healthcare, is a key marker of an inclusive urban environment.
Urban safety, or lack thereof, has long been correlated with poverty rates (and inequality), where the higher the instances of poverty the less safe an area tends to be. Efficient and accessible transportation is another essential characteristic of a safe urban community.
Resiliency refers to the ability of crowded urban spaces to plan for and respond to things like large scale disasters (higher population density means any natural or man-made disaster could potentially affect more total people). Disaster mitigation strategies, response plans, sound infrastructure planning -- these are all necessary for resilient cities.
The sustainability theme highlights the need for good resource management and urges a focus on renewable sources of energy. Disseminating resources (e.g. electricity) to so many people in a crowded city is a huge challenge, as is the management of the huge footprint of that population (today, 75% of the world’s carbon emissions originate in cities!).