SDG 11: Sustainable cities and communities
Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
This can be achieved by building safe and affordable housing and creating resilient societies and economies. It also requires massive investments in public transport, creating green public spaces, and improving urban planning.
According to the United Nations, 55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas today, a proportion that is expected to increase to 68% by 2050. Cities across the world occupy just 3% of the Earth's land but account for more than two-thirds of energy consumption and 75% of carbon emissions. The number of slum dwellers exceeded 1 billion in 2018 or close to a quarter of the urban population. In 2019, only half of the world's urban population had proper access to public transport. Access is defined as living within 500 meters' walking distance from a low-capacity transport system (such as a bus stop) and within 1 km of a high-capacity transport system (such as a railway).
Data retrieved from 911 cities from 114 countries in 2020 shows that the share of the global urban area allocated to streets and open public spaces averages about 16%. This is well below the UN-Habitat recommendation of 30% streets and an additional 10 to 15% open public spaces.
Increased urbanization requires increased and improved access to basic resources such as food, energy, and water. In addition, basic services such as sanitation, health, education, mobility, and information are needed. However, these requirements are unmet globally, which causes serious challenges for the viability and safety of cities to meet increased future demands.
There's a long way to go before reaching an ideal sustainable living environment, but SDG #11 targets will set the tone to get there.