Cities are hubs for ideas, commerce, culture, science, productivity, social development and much more. At their best, cities have enabled people to advance socially and economically. With the number of people living within cities projected to rise to 5 billion people by 2030, it’s important that efficient urban planning and management practices are in place to deal with the challenges brought by urbanization.

Common urban challenges include congestion, lack of funds to provide basic services, a shortage of adequate housing, declining infrastructure and rising air pollution within cities.

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Rapid urbanization challenges, such as the safe removal and management of solid waste within cities, can be overcome in ways that allow them to continue to thrive and grow, while improving resource use and reducing pollution and poverty. One such example is an increase in municipal waste collection. There needs to be a future in which cities provide opportunities for all, with access to basic services, energy, housing, transportation and more.

  • Half of humanity (3.5 billion people) live in cities today, and this number will continue to grow. Cities are hubs for ideas, commerce, culture, science, and social development. Cities are also where we must find the solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges, including poverty, climate change, healthcare, and education.
  • Cities occupy only 3% of Earth’s land but account for 60-80% of energy consumption and 75% of carbon emissions.
  • Rapid urbanization is exerting pressure on fresh water supplies, sewage, the living environment, and public health. Cities must tackle challenges (congestion, limited access to basic services, inadequate housing, declining infrastructure) in a way that creates jobs, improves resource use, and reduces pollution and poverty.
  • Cities are especially vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters, making it crucial to build urban resilience to avoid human, social, and economic losses.
    1. 828 million people live in slums and this number keeps rising.

The cost is minimal in comparison with the benefits. With proper urbanization, cities are less likely to foster slums, tangled traffic, and greenhouse gas emissions.  Citizens will be more likely to have an increased quality of life and share in prosperity and social stability, all without harming the environment. For example, there is a cost to creating a functional public transport network, but the benefits are huge in terms of economic activity, quality of life, the environment, and the overall success of a networked city.

You can take an active interest in your community and advocate for the kind of city you believe you need. Whether it be your building, street, or neighborhood, think about what you can do to make it better. Can children walk to school safely? Can people walk safely at night? Are there enough jobs? Is healthcare nearby? Is there pollution? Every little improvement makes a big difference.

  1. By 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums
  2. By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons
  3. By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries
  4. Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage
  5. By 2030, significantly reduce the number of deaths and the number of people affected and substantially decrease the direct economic losses relative to global gross domestic product caused by disasters, including water-related disasters, with a focus on protecting the poor and people in vulnerable situations
  6. By 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management
  7. By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities
  8. Support positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, peri-urban and rural areas by strengthening national and regional development planning
  9. By 2020, substantially increase the number of cities and human settlements adopting and implementing integrated policies and plans towards inclusion, resource efficiency, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, resilience to disasters, and develop and implement, in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, holistic disaster risk management at all levels
  10. Support least developed countries, including through financial and technical assistance, in building sustainable and resilient buildings utilizing local materials
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