Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11, also known as the “Sustainable Cities and Communities”, aims to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable. This goal is particularly important because, as of 2020, more than half of the global population lives in cities and urban areas, and this number is expected to continue increasing in the coming decades. Ensuring that cities are sustainable and livable is crucial for the well-being and prosperity of both present and future generations.
Here are some key points with illustrations to consider on SDG 11:
Inclusivity: SDG 11 aims to ensure that cities and human settlements are inclusive, safe, and accessible for all, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or socio-economic status. This includes measures to reduce inequality, provide affordable and adequate housing, and improve access to education, health care, and other essential services. Illustration: In Mumbai, India, the “Housing for All” initiative is working to provide affordable housing for low-income families and to improve access to essential services such as education and health care. In Amsterdam, the Netherlands, the “Bicycle Mayor” program aims to promote cycling as a sustainable and accessible mode of transportation for all, including older adults and people with disabilities.
Safety: SDG 11 seeks to make cities and human settlements safe and resilient, particularly in the face of natural and man-made disasters. This includes measures to improve the safety and security of buildings and infrastructure, as well as to strengthen disaster risk reduction and emergency response systems. Illustration: In Christchurch, New Zealand, the city is rebuilding in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake in 2011, with a focus on making the city more resilient and better prepared for future disasters. This includes measures such as strengthening building codes and improving emergency response systems.
Sustainability: SDG 11 aims to make cities and human settlements sustainable, with a focus on reducing the environmental impact of urbanization. This includes measures to improve energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and promote the use of clean and renewable energy sources. It also includes efforts to protect and restore natural habitats and ecosystems and to promote the use of sustainable modes of transportation. Illustration: In Stockholm, Sweden, the city has implemented a number of initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote the use of clean and renewable energy. These include measures such as promoting the use of electric vehicles and investing in energy-efficient buildings and infrastructure. In San Francisco, United States, the city is working to protect and restore natural habitats and ecosystems, including the San Francisco Bay, through initiatives such as the “Green Business Program” and the “Pavement to Parks” program.
Partnerships: Achieving the targets of SDG 11 will require the participation and collaboration of various stakeholders, including governments, civil society, the private sector, and international organizations. Building partnerships and working together towards common goals can help to ensure that the necessary resources and expertise are brought to bear on the challenges of making cities and human settlements sustainable and livable. Illustration: In Toronto, Canada, the “Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council is a fine example of participation and partnerships of stakeholders and government bodies for achieving the goal.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a mixed impact on the progress toward SDG 11, with both positive and negative consequences. While the pandemic has highlighted the importance of safe and resilient cities and human settlements, it has also exacerbated existing inequalities and disrupted access to essential services. To address these challenges and continue making progress toward the goals of SDG 11, it will be important for all stakeholders to work together and find innovative solutions.
What Can I Do to Help to achieve the Goal:
Take an active interest in the governance and management of your city. Advocate for the kind of city you believe you need. Develop a vision for your building, street, and neighborhood, and act on that vision. Are there enough jobs? Can your children walk to school safely? Can you walk with your family at night? How far is the nearest public transport? What’s the air quality like? What are your shared public spaces like? The better the conditions you create in your community, the greater the effect on the quality of life.
By taking these and other actions, individuals can contribute to the achievement of SDG 11 and help to create more inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable cities and human settlements for all.