According to the United Nations, 3.5 billion people currently live in cities, and with exponential urbanization in developing countries, the world’s urban population is expected to reach 5 billion by 2030. Cities account for roughly three-quarters of the world’s energy consumption and carbon emissions.
More than 800 million people live in slums, and more than half of all urban dwellers in the world are breathing air polluted at levels at least 2.5 times higher than the safety standard.
Living in cities also has positive aspects. There are generally more job opportunities, and better infrastructure and educational and healthcare opportunities compared to rural communities. Public transportation is usually available, enabling many people to travel together, reducing fuel use and fuel costs. There is a diversity of cultures in cities, allowing people from various backgrounds to live together and learn from each other.
Diverse efforts aim to address urban problems, including access to clean water and sanitation, affordable and healthy housing, energy-efficiency transportation alternatives, and equitable food sources. Building community resilience in cities seeks to minimize potential human and economic losses from future environmental and social challenges.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (Sustainable Cities and Communities) aims to address the challenges of urbanization and to ensure that cities are inclusive, green, safe, and managed sustainably, by:
- Ensuring universal access to adequate, safe, sustainable, and affordable housing, transportation, and basic services in urban settings by 2030
- Improving cities’ waste management, air quality, urban planning, and infrastructure to reduce adverse environmental impact and improve resilience to disasters
- Providing universal access to safe, inclusive, accessible, and green public spaces by 2030, especially for the most vulnerable groups (women, children, the elderly, and people with disabilities)