Cities

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Publications

Nordic Council of Ministers
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   

Projects

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)

Insights

Today, consumption trends show that our preferences can move upwards towards sustainability, but it isn’t a straight path. As we develop, our consumption preferences change departing from our traditions and roots. But as we grow in our awareness and learning on the impacts of our consumption choices, we tend to return to our roots, building on these through research, innovation and technology. While we always imagined our journey to sustainable development as a linear set of steps. Instead, we can now begin to think of it as journey on a spiral staircase.
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?