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Nordic Council of Ministers (norden)
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

Today, over half of the world’s population lives in urban areas (UN, 2014). However, urbanization can pose significant challenges to our environmental and social well-being. Cities account for 60-80 per cent of energy consumption and a roughly equal share of carbon emissions. Rapid urbanization, combined with increased energy demands, is placing increased pressure on fresh water supplies, sewage systems, and public health, while urban sprawl can lead to social isolation.

Green cities address many of these challenges, creating economic, social and environmental benefits as they do so. Relatively high densities are a central feature of green cities, bringing efficiency gains and technological innovation through the proximity of economic activities, while reducing pollution and resource consumption. Additional environmental benefits come from improving ecosystems within urban areas. Socially, the benefits include employment creation, poverty reduction, improved public health and higher quality of life through road safety, increased accessibility, and social cohesion.

Relevance to the SDGs

Sustainable urban space is embodied in Sustainable Development Goal 11. It calls for a reduction in a city’s ecological footprint, an improvement in transport accessibility, and enhanced resilience against climate change impacts.

SDG 11.6
Sustainable Cities
      SDG 11.b   
   Resilient Cities   


Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI)
Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI)
Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI)

Learning Products

World Bank, Korea Green Growth Partnership (KGGP)
Sustainable Development Solution Network (SDSN)


Anna Walnycky, IIED, discusses the new urban agenda as a unique opportunity for state authorities at all levels to realise the human rights of all inhabitants.

Are you a city-dweller, concerned about the challenges of urbanisation, resilience and inclusiveness?

If urbanisation is one of the most important global trends of the 21st century, with some 70% of the world’s population forecasted to live in cities by 2050, then urbanisation in Africa – and the ways in which that growth occurs – marks one of the most significant opportunities for achieving glob