In 2015, all United Nations Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This Agenda includes 17 connected goals aiming at a sustainable future for everyone. These goals concern sectors such as health, poverty, education, environment, peace, etc. One of them, the eleventh one, is known as “Sustainable Cities and Communities”. This one focuses on sustainable urbanization by making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, and resilient. Moreover, it focuses on leaving a healthier world and environment for the next generations.
During the last decades, the phenomenon of urbanization is more and more frequent. Urbanization means the massive movement of residents from rural to urban regions. This could be due to the plethora of opportunities one can find in cities; plenty of studying options and working careers. However, this sudden overflow of urban areas has proved fatal and detrimental to both the environment and the social conditions.
Urbanization’s Impact on the Environment and the Society
First, urban cities are responsible for the significant increase in air pollution. The shrinking of people in big cities increases the demand for housing, consumption of goods, and other services meeting in there. The intensive human activity such as transportations, buildings, heating, and cooling systems, industries cause climate change through greenhouse gas emissions. The percentages of greenhouse gas are so high that the existing trees can no longer absorb them. This is the main reason why the use of renewable energy resources and the building of low-carbon eco-cities that respect nature, should be promoted.
Air pollution at high rates provokes climate changes with natural disasters such as extreme weather, flooding, and storms. All of these could be dangerous for citizens’ lives. The need for housing drove to the building of houses in almost every part of the land in the cities. Nowadays, more and more cities and towns are located near rivers, coastlines, and lakes and are more likely to be offended during a natural disaster. Phenomena like that, are responsible in one way for poverty, as so many properties were destroyed leading many humans to be homeless and unemployed.
The so many different cultures and lifestyles that can be found in cities have increased the likelihood of social isolation. A big town does not favor the development of social relations and ties between citizens. In addition, problems such as traffic jams and crowded roads create confusion and anxiety that lead people to grief. These emotions prevent people from being productive and lead them to many mental illnesses such as depression.
The Targets of the Sustainable Urbanization
The Agenda for Sustainable Development and particularly the eleventh goal aims to change the present situation that happens in the big cities. The main vision is the creation of sustainable urbanization in which prosperity will be flourished. Specifically, sustainable urbanization is seeking practices that will target the building of cities proper for the well-being of both humans and the environment.
SDG 11 has set significant targets, aiming to achieve them by 2030. There are so many homeless people living on the sidewalks, exposed to difficult weather conditions and deprived of basic commodities. One of the targets is the importance for all people to live in a safe house with all necessary services. Moreover, there is an established plan that pays attention to the needs of vulnerable people, including a better and bigger transport system with safe roads.
As far as the environment is our priority, these targets aim to protect the world’s cultural and natural heritage and eliminate air pollution by planting new trees. Furthermore, building sustainable cities based on a new plan and supporting least developed countries with a hand of financial assistance. Finally, it is crucial to underline the purpose of reducing the number of deaths in people and cure all the diseases that provoke them.
Climate change and environmental pollution increase so fast. If we do not act immediately the consequences to our health and to the planet will be very serious. This is the reason why the implementation of sustainable urbanization is crucial. Let us seize the opportunity and cooperate for a sustainable and healthier future for everyone!