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UN Global Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Solutions Journalism Network

Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals requires creating cities that are more inclusive, resilient, and sustainable. Until 2007, a majority of the global population was rural. Today, a majority of people live in cities—and the proportion continues to rise. The UN estimates that by 2030, the world’s urban population will exceed 5 billion.

Many people migrate to cities in search of a better life. To ensure that this remains possible, the UN’s eleventh Sustainable Development Goal aspires to reach the following targets:

  • Ensuring adequate and affordable housing for city-dwellers—including reducing the population of people living in slums.
  • Expanding public transport and improving road safety.
  • Reducing the losses and deaths caused by natural disasters by improving resiliency and implementing disaster risk reduction strategies.
  • Providing access to green spaces, public spaces, and sites of cultural heritage to improve the quality of life for urban residents.
  • Addressing the health consequences of poor air quality and waste management in urban areas.

Despite progress toward reducing the proportion of urban residents living in slums, the UN reports that the overall growth of urban populations has offset gains. Currently, nearly 1 billion people live in slums. Urban areas also continue to sprawl, growing in size faster than the rate of growth of their populations. 

The stories in this collection illustrate solutions working to make cities more inclusive, resilient, and sustainable. Anoush Darabi writes about the strategies that helped Medellín, Colombia, make its cable car infrastructure a success for residents of the city’s barrios. The article also explains why a similar strategy had very different results in Rio de Janeiro. In Peoria, Illinois, a different kind of infrastructure is making the city more resilient to climate change—and more green.

We also learn how the "import replacement" movement is gaining momentum as the pandemic forces communities to examine their own resource allocation practices as they attempt to source goods and services locally, resulting in increased employment and property values, economic stability, and the building of local wealth in the community.

Click here for more stories in the Solutions Story Tracker on sustainable cities and communities.

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