Today, cities are by far the largest and most important habitats of people. It is predicted that the trend of population inflow to urban agglomerations will grow each year. That is why it is so important that cities develop in a sustainable way, friendly both to people and nature. Activities in this matter are not only needed, but required from anyone who has signed 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. One of them, Sustainable Development Goal 11, obliges us to “make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”.
Cities are future – we need to take care of them
Cities are centers of ideas, commerce, culture and science. Of course, this list does not end there. They enable people to develop socially and economically. Considering that – according to estimates – the number of people living in cities will increase to 5 billion by 2030, it is important that urban planning and management practices are applied in order to effectively meet the challenges of urbanization.
There are many challenges associated with maintaining cities in a way that would ensure jobs and prosperity without burdening land and resources. In addition, we must address such issues as congestion, lack of funds for the provision of basic services, housing shortages and growing pollution.
The more challenges, the more creative solutions
With such a rapid increase in the number of people living in cities as it is estimated by the predictions, a major problem will be (and, unfortunately, already is) safe disposal and management of solid waste in cities. However, this and other problems can be overcome in a way that allows cities to develop while improving resource use and reducing pollution and poverty. We need a future in which cities will provide everyone with opportunities for development, access to basic services, energy, housing and transport – of course, in a way that is harmless to the planet.
Solutions based on the idea of Smart Cities give a really wide range of possibilities. Enterprises that can find a profitable and socially or ecologically responsible market niche within them, must only move a bit of creativity.
Tips that set the Sustainable Development Goal 11
Fortunately, the United Nations, with the joint efforts of the Member States, has set a direction. What both the governments of individual states, enterprises operating within them as well as international institutions / companies should strive for, is defined by the target actions under the Sustainable Development Goal 7.
Until 2030, Member States should:
- provide everyone with access to safe and affordable housing and basic services and start modernizing slums;
- enable access to safe, affordable and sustainable transport systems for all, by increasing road safety through the development of public transport, with particular reference to the needs of disadvantaged people, women, children, people with disabilities and the elderly;
- strengthen the integration and sustainable urbanization and the participatory, integrated and sustainable planning and management of human settlements;
- strengthen efforts to protect the world’s cultural and natural heritage;
- seek to reduce the number of deaths and disaster rates and significantly reduce the direct economic losses associated with global gross domestic product caused by disasters, including water-related disasters, with an emphasis on the protection of the poor and disadvantaged;
- reduce the negative impact of cities on the environment, including paying special attention to air quality and waste management;
- ensure universal access to safe and inclusive green and public spaces;
- support positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, suburban and rural areas;
- significantly increase the number of cities and human settlements that adopt and implement integrated policies and plans for social inclusion, resource efficiency, mitigation of climate change, disaster resilience and holistic disaster risk management at all levels;
- support the least-developed countries through financial and technical assistance, in building sustainable and resilient buildings using local materials.
There is a lot of work ahead of us. By 2030, there are only 11 years left so it is worth to get cracking as soon as possible and get ready for action.