Goal 11: Sustainable Cities & Communities

Responsible Urbanization and City Planning

Due to the size and rapid growth of cities across the globe, many challenges exist to secure urban citizens’ health, happiness, and well-being. These challenges include overcrowding, lack of essential services, outdated infrastructure shortages of living space, and pollution.

What’s the Goal?

UN’s goal #11 aims to make the world’s cities more inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.

Why Does it Matter?

With human migratory patterns continuing to funnel toward urban areas, strained city resources are often eclipsed by demand spikes from overcrowding – particularly in less developed nations. Frequently a result of outdated public infrastructure, over-burdened cities pose serious humanitarian and environmental risks, such as from natural disasters.

Why Are Sustainable Cities Important?

Half of humanity, nearly 3.5 billion people, live in cities across the globe. With this number expected to grow, it is imperative that city planners and policymakers ready their cities to handle issues such as poverty, climate change, health care, sanitation services, public transportation, and education. The effects of poorly planned and poorly managed cities are seen in the crowded and unhealthy slums of most large urban centers. The 883 million people who live in slums across the globe experience lower life expectancy while facing higher rates of crime and poverty.

Can We Achieve This Goal?

We can achieve this goal, but citizens, city planners, and local and national governments need to understand that the returns of better economic activity, quality of life, better environment, and success of a better-networked city will outweigh the initial upfront costs of improvement.

How Can I Help?

Help your city by taking an active interest in its municipal governance and management. Be an advocate for the type of city you feel is best for you and your community. To continue improving your city, pay attention to things on this shortlist:

    • Are there enough jobs?
    • Are you close to health care?
    • 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 the shared public spaces like?

Goal 11 Facts & Figures

3.5 billion people

Half of humanity lives in cities today. This number is estimated to climb to 5 billion by 2030

883 million

The number of people living in slums, most of them found in eastern and southeastern Asia


The percent of land that cities occupy globally. This 3% accounts for 60% — 80% of energy consumption and 75% of carbon emissions

Goal 11 Targets

  • By 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe, and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade all slums.
  • By 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities by paying particular attention to air quality, municipal waste, and other waste management.
  • Support the least developed countries through financial and technical assistance in building sustainable and resilient buildings using local materials.
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