Sustainable Cities and Communities in an Evolved World

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In 2015 United Nations General Assembly in a session unanimously adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which is indeed a global development agenda that includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals. These goals have to be achieved by 2030.  SDGs were officially adopted in January 2016. SDG’s are a universal set of goals, targets, and indicators that set out quantitative objectives across the community, economic, and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. These goals also address several issues like climate change, poverty, economic development, inequality, and ecosystem protection. According to a report published by the UN, 55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 68% by 2050. So these SDGs have to be achieved in this hugely urban population.  Cities are actually a broader canvas to connect local actions with global ones. Goal 11 of the SDG agenda is regarding cities and communities. Urbanization has actually created many development challenges for the whole world but at the same time, there are many opportunities for advancing sustainable development. SDG 11 highlights the central role of urbanization in sustainable development. Its focus is to work closely in order to make cities and human settlements inclusive, secure, resilient, and sustainable. The speedy enlargement of cities is because of the rising populations and increased migration. This process is more evident in the developing world which is why slums are also becoming a more noteworthy characteristic of urban life. Making cities sustainable means creating career and business opportunities, safe and affordable housing, and building resilient societies and economies.  To achieve all these aspects investment in public transport, creating green public spaces, and improving urban planning and management in participatory are a few of the ways. The implementation of SDGs is the real challenge while dealing with urbanization.  While knowing the challenges and opportunities of urbanization we get to know that currently, cities generate 80 percent of global GDP but at the same time, they are accountable for as much as 70 percent of global energy consumption and 70 percent of global carbon emissions. There is severe poverty, unemployment and socio-economic disparities, unsustainable patterns of consumption and production in urban areas. Apart from this climate change and environmental degradation are at their worst in cities. But on the other side cities also accommodate most of the world’s businesses and enterprises, provide markets for industry and employment, foster technological innovations, and support high-density habitation and efficient land use. Predominantly during the last two decades, cities have been the drivers of innovative sustainable development at the local level. Ambitious and innovative cities that have been pioneers in sustainable urban development are a great support for the agenda to be achieved but not all can do or currently doing. There is another very pivotal point that is the support of local governments because they are the ones who are the pioneers of the sustainable development. Such practices can be emulated in other parts where they are not yet practiced. Most countries today have multi-level governance structures, meaning that urban and local governments are directly responsible for delivering a large part of the national governments’ commitment to the SDGs. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), nearly 70% of the development targets that make up the 17 SGDs will require action from local and regional governments. In short, even in the presence of many challenges, cities have exclusive potencies when it comes to the implementation of the SDGs. They have administrative flexibility, the capacity to engage directly with citizens, access to city networks and collaborations and also the aptitude to lead. Despite all disparities between cities all over the world whether its socio-economic conditions, climatic, urbanization levels there are many similarities specially in developing nations which includes environmental challenges, a top-down governance structure, a lack of climate change policy, limited public participation, inadequate resources, etc. still cities are the main focus to achieve the sustainable development goals due to their exposure and development nature comparatively. There should certainly be a planning to deal with the issues like climate change to effectively achieve the SDG targets.

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