Sustainable Development Goal 11
Mission statement"Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable"
Commercial?No
Type of projectnon-profit
LocationGlobal
OwnerSupported by United Nations & Owned by community
FounderUnited Nations
Established2015
Websitesdgs.un.org

Sustainable Development Goal 11 (SDG 11 or Global Goal 11) is about "sustainable cities and communities" and is one of 17 Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015. The SDG 11 is to "Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable".[1] The 17 SDGs take into account that action in one area will affect outcomes in other areas as well, and that development must balance social, economic and Environmental Sustainability.[2]

SDG 11 has 10 targets to be achieved, and this is being measured with 15 indicators. The seven "outcome targets" include: Safe and affordable housing, affordable and sustainable transport systems; inclusive and sustainable urbanization; protect the world's cultural and natural heritage; reduce the adverse effects of natural disasters; reduce the environmental impacts of cities; provide access to safe and inclusive green and public spaces. The three "means of achieving" targets include: Strong national and regional development planning; implement policies for inclusion, resource efficiency and disaster risk reduction; support least developed countries in sustainable and resilient building.[1][3]

In 2018, 4.2 billion people, or 55 percent of the world's population, lived in cities. By 2050, the urban population is expected to reach 6.5 billion.[4] Sustainable development cannot be achieved without significantly transforming the way we build and manage our urban spaces.[4] The world's cities occupy just 3 per cent of the Earth's land, but account for 60–80 per cent of energy consumption and 75 per cent of carbon emissions.[5]

The number of slum dwellers reached more than 1 billion in 2018, or 24 per cent of the urban population.[6] The number of people living in Slums or informal settlements is highest in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and Central and Southern Asia.[6] In 2019, only half of the world's urban population had convenient access to public transport, 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).[6] In the period 1990–2015, most urban areas recorded a general increase in the extent of built-up area per person. Many regions recorded a consistent increase in the built-up area per capita, with Australia and New Zealand recording the highest values.[6]

Background

Further information: climate change and cities

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a collection of 17 global goals designed to be a "blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all". They address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice.[7]

SDG 11 is about improving cities and making them more sustainable. This requires several things, such as creating career and business opportunities, safe and affordable housing, and building resilient societies and economies.[4] Further examples include: investment in public transport, creating green public spaces, and improving urban planning.[4]

"By 2050, two-thirds of all humanity 6.5 billion people will be in urban areas. Sustainable development cannot be achieved without significantly transforming the way we build and manage our urban spaces, according to the United Nations."[4]

The unprecedented growth of cities a result of the rising number of the mass movement in and out of a geographical location has led to a boom in mega-cities, especially in the developing world, and slums are becoming a more significant feature of urban life.[4]

Between 2000 and 2014, the proportion of people living in slums fell from 39 percent to 30 percent. However, the absolute number of people living in slums went from 792 million in 2000 to an estimated 880 million in 2014. Movement from rural to urban areas has accelerated as the population has grown and better housing alternatives are available.[8]

Targets, indicators and progress

Further information: List of SDG targets and indicators

Slums of Hyderabad in India
Slums of Hyderabad in India
Family Park for kids and families in Valenzuela, Philippines
Family Park for kids and families in Valenzuela, Philippines

The UN has defined 10 targets and 15 indicators for SDG 11.[9] Targets specify the goals, and indicators represent the metrics by which the world aims to track whether these targets are achieved. Six of them are to be achieved by the year 2030 and one by the year 2020 and three have no target years. Each of the targets also has one or two indicators which will be used to measure progress.

World map for Indicator 11.1.1 in 2014: "Share of people living in slums"[9]
World map for Indicator 11.1.1 in 2014: "Share of people living in slums"[9]

Target 11.1: Safe and affordable housing

The full title of Target 11.1 is "By 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums".[1]

This target has one Indicator: Indicator 11.1.1 is the "Proportion of the urban population living in slum households".

People who live in slums have no access to improved water, access to improved sanitation, sufficient living area, and durable housing.[9]

Target 11.1 is to ensure access to safe and affordable housing by 2030. The indicator to measure progress toward this target is the proportion of urban population living in slums or informal settlements. Between 2000 and 2014, the proportion fell from 39 percent to 30 percent. However, the absolute number of people living in slums went from 792 million in 2000 to an estimated 880 million in 2014. Movement from rural to urban areas has accelerated as the population has grown and better housing alternatives are available.[8]

A sustainable transportation system considers different socioeconomic groups' travel concerns to achieve the validity of accessibility metrics. According to the Bogota research, transportation and transportation planning should be coordinated with land use planning. Employment and residential areas are relatively concentrated, and urban and suburban settings should be planned and reconstructed in concert.[10]

The number of slum dwellers reached more than 1 billion in 2018, or 24 per cent of the urban population.[6] The number of people living in urban slums is highest in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and Central and Southern Asia.[6]

Target 11.2: Affordable and sustainable transport systems

Map for Indicator 11.2 showing the Particulate matter air pollution, 2016
Map for Indicator 11.2 showing the Particulate matter air pollution, 2016

The full text of Target 11.2 is "By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons".[1]

This target has one Indicator: Indicator 11.2.1 is the "Proportion of population that has convenient access to public transport, by sex, age and Persons With Disabilities".[9]

In 2019, only half of the world's urban population had convenient access to public transport, 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).[6]

Target 11.3: Inclusive and sustainable urbanization

The full-text Target 11.3 is "By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries".[1]

The target has two indicators:[9]

There are currently no data available for this indicator.[9]

Skyline of skyscrapers in Taipei
Skyline of skyscrapers in Taipei

Target 11.4: Protect the world's cultural and natural heritage

The full text of Target 11.4 is "Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world's cultural and natural heritage."[1]

It has one indicator: Indicator 11.4.1 is the "Total per capita expenditure on the preservation, protection and conservation of all cultural and natural heritage, by the source of funding (public, private), type of heritage (cultural, natural) and level of government (national, regional, and local/municipal)".

This indicator can be difficult to calculate for the following reasons: Countries' national accounting frameworks may not clearly separate cultural, natural, and other activities; financial transactions may be rechanneled for different uses; financial transactions may be double-counted at different levels of public administration.[11]

There are currently no data available for this indicator.[9]

Target 11.5: Reduce the adverse effects of natural disasters

World map for Indicator 11.5.1 in 2017: "Death rate from natural disasters"[9]
World map for Indicator 11.5.1 in 2017: "Death rate from natural disasters"[9]
Map for Indicator 11.5.2 showing the Direct disaster economic loss as a share of GDP, 2018
Map for Indicator 11.5.2 showing the Direct disaster economic loss as a share of GDP, 2018
Chart for Indicator 11.5.2 showing the Global economic losses from disasters as a share of GDP
Chart for Indicator 11.5.2 showing the Global economic losses from disasters as a share of GDP

The full text of Target 11.5 is "By 2030, significantly reduce the number of deaths and the number of people affected and substantially decrease the direct economic losses relative to global gross domestic product caused by disasters, including water-related disasters, with a focus on protecting the poor and people in vulnerable situations".[1]

Indicators are:[9]

Target 11.6: Reduce the environmental impacts of cities

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World map for Indicator 11.5.1 in 2017: "Internally displaced persons from natural disasters"[9]
World map for Indicator 11.5.1 in 2017: "Internally displaced persons from natural disasters"[9]
Chart for Indicator 11.6.1 showing the Proportion of Population served by municipal waste collection, 2017
Chart for Indicator 11.6.1 showing the Proportion of Population served by municipal waste collection, 2017

The full text of Target 11.6 is "By 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management."[1]

The target has two indicators:[9]

Particulate matter (PM) in the air can affect the cardiovascular system and other major organs. Chronic exposure will lead to further health risks.[12]

Target 11.7: Provide access to safe and inclusive green and public spaces

The full text of Target 11.7 is: "By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and Persons With Disabilities"[1]

The two indicators include:

Data collected in 2019 show that, in the period 1990–2015, most urban areas recorded a general increase in the extent of built-up area per person. Many regions recorded a consistent increase in the built-up area per capita, with Australia and New Zealand recording the highest values.[6]

Based on 2019 data from 95 countries, the share of land allocated to streets and open spaces averaged only about 16 percent globally.[6] Of those, streets accounted for about three times as much urban land as open public spaces, such as parks.[6]

Target 11.a: Strong national and regional development planning

The full text of Target 11.a is "Support positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, peri-urban and rural areas by strengthening national and regional development planning".[1]

It has one indicator: Indicator 11.a.1 is the "Number of countries that have national urban policies or regional development plans that (a) respond to population dynamics; (b) ensure balanced territorial development, and (c) increase local fiscal space."

This indicator is one of the key metrics to benchmark and monitors urbanization.[13] It can serve as a gap analysis to support policy recommendations.[13] Data sources for this indicator may include: Official documents such as National Urban Plan available in national and regional administrations, point of service surveys, database of national urban policies by United Nations, UrbanLex, a database of laws and policies on urban matters developed by UN-Habitat.[13]

There are currently no data available for this indicator.[9]

Target 11.b: Implement policies for inclusion, resource efficiency and disaster risk reduction

The full text of Target 11.b is "By 2020, substantially increase the number of cities and human settlements adopting and implementing integrated policies and plans towards inclusion, resource efficiency, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, resilience to disasters, and develop and implement, in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster risk reduction 2015–2030, holistic disaster risk management at all levels."[1]

Unlike most SDGs which have the target year of 2030, this indicator is set to be achieved by 2020.

The two indicators include:[9]

Target 11.c: Support least developed countries in sustainable and resilient building

The full text of Target 11.c is formulated as "Support least developed countries, including through financial and technical assistance, in building sustainable and resilient buildings using local materials".[1]

This target has one Indicator: Indicator 11.c.1 is the "Proportion of financial support to the least developed countries that is allocated to the construction and retrofitting of sustainable, resilient and resource-efficient buildings using local materials".

A proposal has been tabled in 2020 to delete Indicator 11.c.1.[14]

Custodian agencies

The custodian agencies are responsible for data gathering and reporting on the indicators:[15]

Monitoring and Progress

High-level progress reports are prepared by United Nations Secretary General annually, evaluating the progress towards all the Sustainable Development Goals. The most recent report was published in 2021.[16] The previous report was from April 2020.[6]

In 2018, High-level Political Forum (HLPF) took stock of progress on the Sustainable Development Goals and discussed progress, successes, challenges and lessons learned on the road to a fairer, more peaceful and prosperous world and a healthy planet by 2030.[17] SDG 11 was one of the six SDGs discussed in depth.[17]

The progress on the SDG 11 has been stalled by the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the direct and indirect impacts of the pandemic, this Goal is increasingly less likely to be achieved in a timely manner.[18] As of April 30, 2021, this is the progress made toward the Sustainable Development Goal 11.[18]

"The number of slum dwellers has continued to grow over the years, exceeding 1 billion in 2018. Slum dwellers are most prevalent in the three regions of Eastern and South-Eastern Asia (370 million), sub-Saharan Africa (238 million) and Central and Southern Asia (226 million)."

"According to data from 2019 for 610 cities in 95 countries and territories, about half of the urban population has convenient access to public transport, defined as living within a walking distance of 500 metres to low-capacity transport systems, such as buses or trams, and 1,000 metres to high-capacity systems, such as trains and ferries. As a result of the COVID-19 response measures imposed in countries and territories throughout 2020, access to public transport in cities worldwide was significantly disrupted, from partial closures and reduced capacities to total closure of networks."

"Data collected for a sample of 911 cities from 114 countries and territories in 2020 indicate that between 1990 and 2019, spatial urbanization occurred at a much faster rate than population growth, and smaller cities were being urbanized more quickly than their larger counterparts. On average, all regions except sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern and South-Eastern Asia recorded a consistent increase in built-up area per capita, with the highest values in Australia and New Zealand."

"Data on a sample of 911 cities from 114 countries and territories indicate that the share of urban area allocated to streets and open public spaces averaged only about 16 per cent globally in 2020, well below the allocation recommended by United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) of 30 per cent for streets and an additional 10 to 15 per cent for open public spaces."

"As of March 2021, 156 countries and territories have developed national urban policies, almost half of which are already at the implementation stage. Of these countries and territories, 38 per cent are in the early stages of plan development, while 13 per cent are monitoring and evaluating the performance of their plans."

All the UN member states are committed to following up their progress towards implementing the 2030 Agenda and its goals and targets. Almost all the UN member states have presented their national progress towards the SDGs through Voluntary National Review (VNR).[19] Despite the importance of cities within the sustainable development framework, only a few initiatives have emerged to assess progress towards the SDGs on a city scale.[19] Voluntary Local Review (VLR) could be a suitable approach to advance the progress of SDG implementation through localization of global development goals and sustainable development agenda.[19] Both the Sendai Framework and New Urban Agenda point out that urban areas are in an excellent position to take the initiative to manage several of the persistent global challenges like pollution and environmental degradation.[19]

Challenges

Impacts of COVID-19 pandemic

Cities in many countries have become epicentres of COVID-19.[18] Approximately 60% of COVID-19 cases have been found in urban areas, shedding light onto the function of cities in generating and accelerating the pandemic.[20] Population growth, combined with pull factors of cities, such as concentration of economic activities and availability of services, results in increased rates of urbanization.[20] This urbanization is coupled with subsequent congestion and increased human mobility within cities and countries. Importantly, both congestion and increased mobility have been named as some of the major contributors to the spread of epidemics through aerosols, droplets and fomities.[20] SDG 11 has proven to be of critical importance during the COVID-19 pandemic by ensuring a reduction in exposure to those living in crowded areas.[21]

Cultural and natural heritage is an important economic driver, especially for developing countries.[22] With a 98% fall in the number of international arrivals in 2020 compared to 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the tourism industry and the cultural heritage sector have endured significant losses.[22][23]

The COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated the deeply rooted inequalities in the cities, which is reflected in disproportionate pandemic-related impacts on migrants, the homeless, and the residents of urban slums and informal settlements.[24] COVID-19 has revealed pre-existing patterns of health disparities across different groups, with Pacific Islander, Latino, Indigenous and Black Americans experiencing “a COVID-19 death rate of double or more that of White and Asian Americans”.[25] Further, a positive association between previous prolonged exposure to air pollution and the severity of COVID-19 infection and rates of morbidity related to COVID-19 has been suggested.[25] Therefore, the success of SDG 11 post-pandemic requires concerted action on the part of Governments at all levels, civil society and development partners.[24]

During the crisis, cities have emerged as drivers of economic recovery, centres of innovation and catalysts for social and economic transformation.[24] Smart city technologies and solutions have contributed to resilience in cities by facilitating gathering and exchange of information in real time, decreasing risk, and enhancing planning, absorption and adaptation abilities.[26][27] Robots and drones were used to clean and disinfect spaces, measure patient’s temperature, deliver medicine and food, and to track or detect high-risk areas.[26] Evidence from Chinese cities shows that smart city projects have helped the prevention and control of COVID-19 pandemic. Namely, for every 1 million yuan increase in smart city investment per 10,000 people, the number of COVID-19 confirmed cases per 10,000 people decreased by 0.342.[27] Further development of smart city projects is expected to provide opportunities for increasing resilience to the COVID-19 pandemic and any similar events in the future.[26]

Links with other SDGs

SDG 11 interlinks with many of the other SDGs. First, the impact on health (SDG 3, Target 3.9) of city dwellers, as well as improve cities resilience to natural and climate change-induced disasters. It is related to SDG 6 (target 6.1, 6.2 and 6.5), SDG 12 (target 12.4), SDG 14 (target 14.3) Lastly, reducing the impact of communicable diseases and maternal and children mortality which can be found under SDG 3 (targets 3.2 and 3.3).[28]

Furthermore, SDG 11 interlinks with SDG 13 on climate action: The world's cities account for 60–80 per cent of energy consumption and 75 per cent of carbon emissions (this is because 4.2 billion people, or 55 percent of the world's population, lived in cities in 2018).[4][5]

Sustainable and economical transportation networks may successfully reduce carbon emissions (SDG 13), assist in addressing inhabitants with low incomes or other structural inequalities (SDG 11), and promote healthy lifestyles and well-being (SDG 3).

Active modes of transport (walking, cycling and other types of wheeled transport) can be a low-cost way to access essential services (Goal 1.4), especially when combined with cheap and effective public transport. The government's targeted investment in bicycle paths and sidewalks is an essential transportation planning policy, which guides travelling for short trips.[29] In order to address inequities in and access to health services, improve the urban environment by making safe and accessible active transport, including wheelchair access, and better public transport more possible. Increasing pedestrian and bicycle traffic in streets and parks, with an emphasis on crime prevention through urban design, lighting, visibility, fence options and plants, helps to reduce crime, particularly sexual assault (SDG 5.2) [30]

Streamlining the planning approval process for SHA (Special Housing Area) projects can accelerate the development of sustainable community goals. Public housing rents, charged as a percentage of household income, can be effective in reducing inequality.

Organizations

UN system

NGOs and others

The following NGOs and other organizations are helping to achieve SDG 11:

See also

References

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