How Millennials can contribute in achieving SDG 11, “Sustainable cities and communities”
SDG 11 aims at making cities, every city, inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. But why is it so important to focus on cities? Well, because, as of today, half of the world’s population (which means 3.5 billion people) lives in urban centers. This number will most definitely continue to grow and it’s been estimated that, by the year 2050, 70 percent of humanity will live in cities, making them critical in achieving a sustainable future.
However, there are a few hurdles that cities are faced with today, such as pollution, lack of basic services and inefficient infrastructure. Also, 828 million people are still living in slums and this number unfortunately keeps rising. The levels of energy consumption and pollution are also worrying. In fact, cities account for 60-80 percent of the world’s energy consumption and 75 percent of carbon emissions. A lot of cities around the globe are also more vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters than others, due to their particular location or inability to hold such a high concentration of people; therefore, it’s pretty evident that urban resilience is crucial to avoid human, social and economic losses.
At the end of the day, it’s just like they say: “Better safe than sorry”. So, why not intervene right away, before it’s too late? In fact, these issues will soon affect every citizen. Pollution, for example, is a threat to everyone’s health and affects workers’ productivity, and natural disasters, that are unfortunately somewhat impossible to predict, can potentially destroy everyone’s lifestyle. Therefore, it’s important that businesses, governments, civil society organizations and citizens, together, engage in building cities where everyone can live a decent quality of life, creating shared prosperity and social stability without harming the environment.
As a citizen, you yourself are part of the equation and here is how you can give your contribution:
- As simple as it sounds, try avoiding unnecessary car trips and, if you can, bike, walk or take public transportation. Save the car trips for when you have a big group of people.
- Keep an eye on your car maintenance. A well maintained car will emit less toxic fumes.
- There are a lot of alternatives to gasoline-powered cars today: you can switch to electric, hybrid, biodiesel or propane. And these are just a few.
- If you are a worker, you can carpool to work and share your ride with your colleagues, so that you will only use one car.
- You can support groups that advocate for more public spaces and improvements in public transportation, recycling systems and access to public services.
- Follow the UN’s Habitat Youth division, to know about numerous activities, publications and programs that students can make use of (https://unhabitat.org/urban-themes/youth/).
As you can see, there is plenty that we all can do on a daily basis. And, if you are somehow already involved with any initiative that aims at reaching this SDG, hurry and join our competition here: https://goo.gl/5LUfP2.
Cover cartoon credit: Sergio Algeri/GYV