The post-independent India saw a larger extent of migration of people from rural areas to city. Even today, we see migration happening to a great extent. The rapid growth of cities across the countries was also a result of increased population and migration from rural areas to new cities. Today, we live in a globalized and modern world where most of the population is in cities not just in India, but the whole world.

What is SDG 11?

To make rapidly growing cities and communities sustainable, the United Nations established goal no. 11. This goal talks about making cities sustainable for the increasing population. Making cities and communities sustainable means creating ample career and business opportunities, safe and affordable housing for people, build resilient societies and economies for the generations to come.

Targets of SDG 11

The goal targets to provide affordable and safe housing for those in need and basic services, and upgrade slums. Basic services include improved sanitation, healthcare facilities, and clean drinking water to people living in these housing facilities. Over the years, there has been a significant decrease in the urban population living in slums. Between 2000 to 2014, the proportion fell from 39% to 30%.

SDG 11 promotes investment in improved and sustainable transport facilities. This also includes better roads and improves road safety. Better roads could also enhance the public transport system and could prove to be beneficial for those in vulnerable situations, women, children, older persons, and people with disabilities. However, 2019 statistics show that only half of the world’s urban population had convenient access to public transport systems. The goal also strives to maintain and preserve the world’s natural and cultural heritage.

Few countries are more prone to natural disasters, which result in a significant number of deaths from natural calamities. Goal 11 aims to reduce the number of deaths and people affected by natural disasters while greatly decreasing the direct economic losses resulted from the same. SDG 11 promotes implementation policies and plans to reduce the disaster risk and lessen the friction between growing cities and the deteriorating environment. Life on Earth can sustain only when there is a balance between nature and manmade creations.

Goal 11 targets to improve and establish safer spaces for children, and women in particular and, reduce sexual harassment. Safe-spaces also include open spaces like parks; the goal aims to make public spaces inclusive and safe for the entire population.

What can we do?

As human beings, we can do our bit to improve the conditions of those around us. NGOs around the world conduct sanitation and cleanliness drives; being part of a few such initiatives could give you a practical sense of the goal. Cities only occupy 3 percent of the Earth’s total land but account for 60 to 80 percent of energy consumption and at least 70 percent of total carbon emission. As citizens and humans, it is high time we try to work on and understand the impact on the environment and work towards bettering the environment. One of the best ways to do so is to begin at home, adopt sustainable lifestyle habits. Teach the next generation about sustainability and sustainable lifestyle from a young age.

Credits: Sant Nirankari Charitable Foundation

Cities are essential to the social and economic sustenance of the world. Nearly 80% of the global economy or global GDP comes from cities around the world. While it is essential to better the environment, it is important to make the cities sustainable for many more generations.