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Addressing Inequalities: Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Urban Planning

Updated: May 16, 2023

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of 17 global goals adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015 to address various environmental, social, and economic challenges facing the world. SDG 11 focuses on sustainable cities and communities, aiming to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable. Addressing inequalities in urban planning is necessary to meet sustainable development goals.

To effectively apply SDG 11, countries can take several steps, including:

1. Promoting sustainable urban planning: Sustainable urban planning is critical to creating livable cities and communities. Countries should prioritize sustainable land-use planning, walkable and bikeable communities, and green infrastructure. For example, Copenhagen, Denmark, is a model city for sustainable urban planning, with more than 60% of people cycling to work or school.

2. Improving public transport: Public transport is key to reducing traffic congestion, improving air quality, and promoting sustainable mobility. Countries should prioritize investments in public transport infrastructure, such as buses, trains, and subways, as well as bike-sharing schemes. For example, Curitiba, Brazil, has a highly successful bus rapid transit system that moves millions of passengers every day.

3. Promoting green buildings: Buildings are responsible for a significant portion of global energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Countries should promote sustainable building practices, such as passive design, green roofs, and renewable energy. For example, Vancouver, Canada, has set a goal to make all new buildings zero-emission by 2030.

4. Encouraging community participation: Communities must be involved in the planning and decision-making process to create sustainable cities and communities. Countries should encourage community participation through public consultations, community-led initiatives, and citizen science programs. For example, Malmo, Sweden, has a strong tradition of community engagement, with citizens leading initiatives to transform vacant lots into urban gardens.

5. Addressing inequalities: Sustainable cities and communities must be inclusive, safe, and resilient for all residents, regardless of their background. Countries should address inequalities in access to housing, education, healthcare, and public services. For example, Medellin, Colombia, has transformed from one of the world's most violent cities into a model for social inclusion, with investments in education, healthcare, and public transportation benefiting low-income communities.

To effectively apply SDG 11, countries must prioritize sustainable urban planning, public transport, green buildings, community participation, and address inequalities. By taking these steps, countries can create sustainable cities and communities that promote a high quality of life for all residents while protecting the planet for future generations.

What are other successful examples and best practices?

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Sustainable Development Goals
Sustainable Development Goals

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