SDG 11 Courses: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Currently, around 3.5 billion people or half of the world’s population, lives in cities and it is estimated that 5 billion more will live in cities by 2030. The reason behind this is the fact that cities represent hubs for culture, ideas, commerce, productivity, social development and science. Cities enable people to advance both economically and socially, however, with the quick rise of populations in the cities there is a need for an efficient urban planning and management practices that appear due to urbanization. It has been recorded that 883 million people live in slums at the present and majority of them is present in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia. Cities cover just three per cent of the land but use 60 to 80 per cent of energy and produce 75 per cent of carbon emissions. Rapid urbanization is putting pressure on the public health, the living environment and the fresh water supplies. In 2016, more than half of the urban population were exposed to air pollution that counted to 2.5 times higher than the safety standard resulting in 4.2 million deaths.

Many cities are prone to face natural disasters and are vulnerable to climate change because of the high people concentration and location. Thus, building urban resilience is necessary to avoid economic, social and human losses. There are many challenges when it comes to maintaining cities with regard to creating jobs and having prosperity for all people without straining resources and land. The urban challenges such as congestion, a shortage of adequate housing, declining infrastructure, rising air pollution and lack of funds for basic services also represent major issues. Therefore, the goal is to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable by 2030.

To tackle these issues and challenges, citizens have to take an active interest in the government and management of their cities, as well as advocate for a city they believe they need. Growing and rapid urbanization challenges, such as management and the safe removal of waste in cities, can be solved by at the same time improving the use of resources and reducing poverty and pollution. In the future, cities should be able to provide opportunities for all people and everyone should have access to housing, transportation, energy and other basic services. Citizens should be able to walk their streets safely, have jobs, breathe quality air and have accessible and enjoyable public spaces.

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