SDG 11: Which countries succeeded in creating “sustainable cities and communities”?
“Our world is evolving without consideration, and the result is a loss of biodiversity, energy issues, congestion in cities. But geography, if used correctly, can be used to redesign sustainable and more livable cities.” — Jack Dangermond
Sustainable development cannot be achieved without transforming the way urban spaces are built and managed. Today, more than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and, by 2050, that figure will have risen to 6.5 billion people (two-thirds of humanity).
As pointed out by the United Nations, making cities sustainable means 1) ensuring access to safe and affordable housing and 2) upgrading slum settlements. It also involves investing in public transport, improving inclusivity urban planning and management, and creating green public spaces.
Some of the world’s capital cities are already implementing this process. By checking the Arcadis’ Sustainable Cities Index (SCI), it is possible to get a better idea about their progress. The 2018 edition explores city sustainability from the perspective of the citizen, ranking 100 global cities on three pillars of the triple bottom line: people (social), planet (environmental) and pArofit (economic).
London was ranked the world’s most sustainable city, with notably high scores in the “people” and “profit” pillars. London’s “planet” ranking is lower due to air quality and waste management issues but is still in the upper quartile of the index. Stockholm, Edinburgh, Singapore, and Vienna follow in the top five. While Stockholm and Vienna score highly in the “planet” criteria, Edinburgh is aligned more closely with the “people” agenda. Singapore took the top spot in the “profit” sub-index by a considerable margin.
European metropolises dominate the list of the 20 most sustainable cities. Representing Asia are Singapore, Hong Kong and Seoul. Tokyo and Sydney also ranked high for “people” but they still need to improve in both “profit” and “planet.”
In the U.S., New York, San Francisco, and Seattle are the only cities featured in the top 20.
In Latin America, Santiago, São Paulo, Mexico City, and Buenos Aires were all placed at the top of the bottom quartile, scoring better in “people” and “planet” than in the “profit” pillar.
In order to reach Goal 11 and create action toward it, countries around the world should implement these targets suggested by the U.N.
With more people moving to urban areas every year, SDG 11 proves to be imperative to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. Building urban resilience is not only crucial to avoid human, social, and economic losses but also fundamental to protect the environment and mitigate disaster risk and climate change.
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