SDG 11: Targets and Indicators

Goal 11: Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

Target 11.1 By 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums

  • Indicator 11.1.1: Proportion of urban population living in slums, informal settlements or inadequate housing

Target 11.2 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

  • Indicator 11.2.1: Proportion of population that has convenient access to public transport, by sex, age and persons with disabilities

Target 11.3 By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries

  • Indicator 11.3.1: Ratio of land consumption rate to population growth rate
  • Indicator 11.3.2: Proportion of cities with a direct participation structure of civil society in urban planning and management that operate regularly and democratically

Target 11.4 Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage

  • Indicator 11.4.1: Total expenditure (public and private) per capita spent on the preservation, protection and conservation of all cultural and natural heritage, by type of heritage (cultural, natural, mixed and World Heritage Centre designation), level of government (national, regional and local/municipal), type of expenditure (operating expenditure/investment) and type of private funding (donations in kind, private non-profit sector and sponsorship)

Target 11.5 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

  • Indicator 11.5.1: Number of deaths, missing persons and directly affected persons attributed to disasters per 100,000 population
  • Indicator 11.5.2: Direct economic loss in relation to global GDP, damage to critical infrastructure and number of disruptions to basic services, attributed to disasters

Target 11.6 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

  • Indicator 11.6.1: Proportion of urban solid waste regularly collected and with adequate final discharge out of total urban solid waste generated, by cities
  • Indicator 11.6.2: Annual mean levels of fine particulate matter (e.g. PM2.5 and PM10) in cities (population weighted)

Target 11.7 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

  • Indicator 11.7.1: Average share of the built-up area of cities that is open space for public use for all, by sex, age and persons with disabilities
  • Indicator 11.7.2: Proportion of persons victim of physical or sexual harassment, by sex, age, disability status and place of occurrence, in the previous 12 months

Target 11.A Support positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, peri-urban and rural areas by strengthening national and regional development planning

  • Indicator 11.A.1: Proportion of population living in cities that implement urban and regional development plans integrating population projections and resource needs, by size of city

Target 11.B 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

  • Indicator 11.B.1: Number of countries that adopt and implement national disaster risk reduction strategies in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030
  • Indicator 11.B.2: Proportion of local governments that adopt and implement local disaster risk reduction strategies in line with national disaster risk reduction strategies

Target 11.C Support least developed countries, including through financial and technical assistance, in building sustainable and resilient buildings utilizing local materials

  • Indicator 11.C.1: Proportion of financial support to the least developed countries that is allocated to the construction and retrofitting of sustainable, resilient and resource-efficient buildings utilizing local materials


SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

SDG 11 aims to renew and plan cities and human settlements in general in a way that
fosters community cohesion and personal security while stimulating innovation
and employment.

In 2008, for the first time in history, the global urban population outnumbered the rural population. This milestone marked the advent of a new ‘urban millennium’. 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.

Many challenges exist to maintaining cities in a way that continues to create jobs and prosperity without straining land and resources. 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.

Population living in slums

As more people migrate to cities in search of a better life and urban populations grow, housing issues intensify. Already in 2014, 30% of the urban population lived in slum-like conditions; in Sub-Saharan Africa, the proportion was 55%, the highest of any region.

Globally, more than 880 million people were living in slums in 2014. This estimate does not include people in inadequate or unaffordable housing (defined as costing more than 30% of total monthly household income).

Concerted action will be needed to address this challenge and enhance resilience because cities, as hubs of opportunities, remain magnets for people seeking a better life, which however is not always the case. Providing adequate shelter for all is a high priority since slums have negative impact on GDP and on life expectancy.

Urban sprawl

As population growth outpaces available land, cities expand far beyond their formal administrative boundaries. Urban sprawl refers to the unrestricted growth in many urban areas of housing, commercial development, and roads over large expanses of land.

This urban sprawl can be seen in many cities around the world, and not only in developing regions. From 2000 to 2015, the ratio of the land consumption rate to the population growth rate in Eastern Asia and the Oceania was the highest in the world, with developed regions second.

Other regions, such as South-Eastern Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean, showed a decrease in that indicator over the same time period. Unfortunately, a low value for this ratio is not necessarily an indication that urban dwellers are faring well, as this can indicate a prevalence of overcrowded slums.

Unplanned urban sprawl undermines other determinants of sustainable development. For example, for every 10% increase in sprawl, there is a 5.7% increase in per capita carbon dioxide emissions and a 9.6% increase in per capita hazardous pollution. This illustrates the important interlinkages across the goals and targets of the SDGs.

What does this mean and what does this look like?

Given the manyfold challenges related to a sustainable management of cities, any help is welcome. In 2016 the Korea Research Institute for Human Settlements in association with the Inter-American Development Bank carried out ten case studies of smart cities, one of them in Singapore.

100% of Singapore’s population lives in cities and the country has the ambition to become the world’s first true smart nation by harnessing technology to the fullest with the aim of improving the quality of life, strengthening businesses, and building stronger opportunities. This is part of the Smart Nation Vision established in 2014 to tackle the main challenges of an aging population, urban density and energy sustainability.

The most advanced smart service is the Intelligent Transportation System.

These are great ambitions and impressive steps are being taken. However, when looking at the daily life of average people, the challenges they face take on a different angle on sustainability that of the importance of the small things and a life well lived in their accustomed settings.


SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

Roughly half the world’s population still lives on the equivalent of about US$ 2 a day with global unemployment rates of 5.7% and having a job does not guarantee the ability to escape from poverty in many places. This is why promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all is an important goal that can also help achieve other SDGs.

This slow and uneven progress requires us to rethink and retool our economic and social policies aimed at eradicating poverty. A continued lack of decent work opportunities, insufficient investments and under-consumption lead to an erosion of the basic social contract underlying democratic societies: that all must share in progress.

Even though the average annual growth rate of real gross domestic product (GDP) per capita worldwide is increasing year on year, there are still many countries in the developing world that are decelerating in their growth rates and moving farther from the 7% growth rate target set for 2030. As labor productivity decreases and unemployment rates rise, standards of living begin to decline due to lower wages.

Sustainable economic growth will require societies to create conditions that allow people to have quality jobs that stimulate the economy while not harming the environment. Job opportunities and decent working conditions are also required for the whole working-age population.

Economic growth, especially among the least developed and other developing countries, is a way of reducing the wage gap relative to developed countries, thereby diminishing glaring inequalities between the rich and poor. And this growth will need to be accompanied by financial services and infrastructures that bring stability to the process.

GDP growth in the least developed countries

In the period 2010-2014, the global average annual growth rate of real GDP per capita was 1.6%, slightly below the rate achieved over the period of 2000−2004.

The growth rate of countries in developing regions was more than triple that of developed regions (4.1% versus 1.3%, respectively), yet the rates for both regions were below their historical averages. This suggests that much work remains to achieve the goal of sustained and inclusive economic growth.

The challenge is particularly steep for the least developed countries, whose per capita growth accelerated for a time, but has since slowed to only 2.6% on average during 2010-2014, less than half the target rate of at least 7% a year.

Labour productivity

Labour productivity (measured by GDP per worker) spurs economic growth. Growth in labour productivity in developing regions far outpaced that of developed regions, especially in Asia. Between 2010 and 2015, labour productivity grew by 0.9% per year, on average, in developed regions, while rising by 6.7% per year, on average, in Eastern Asia, the region with the fastest growth.

Despite rapid growth in some developing regions, the productivity of workers in the poorest regions is still only a small fraction of that of workers in the developed world.

Workers in Southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, are only about 5% as productive as those in developed regions, when measured as a percentage of GDP. Even the developing region with the highest labour productivity, Western Asia, has only about 40% of the labour productivity of developed regions, and this rate has declined slightly since 2000.

What does this mean and what does this look like?

According to the European Union, “economic growth contributes to society’s well-being by enabling people to make a decent living and to enjoy high living standards. While it is an important driver of prosperity, economic growth can also harm the environment that it depends on.”

Europe also considers it crucial for future wellbeing to pursue sustainable economic growth that tries to satisfy the needs of the present generation in a manner that sustains natural resources and the environment for future generations, according to the main premise underlying Sustainable Development.

One of the indicators to measure good living standards is the growth in GDP, as we have seen above. This number is commonly used as an important standard for measuring a country’s socio-economic development. It gives an indication of an economy’s potential to satisfy people’s needs, its capacity to create jobs and can be used to monitor economic development. But, there is an expanding awareness that focusing on GDP alone is not enough to achieve better lives for all.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) established its own indicator, the OECD Better Life Index, which shows a positive correlation between GDP per capita and wellbeing. However this relationship becomes weaker as a country’s income grows, suggesting that once income reaches a certain level, increased income is less likely to generate well-being.

The chart also indicates a higher performance by some countries when being evaluated by the Better Life Index than only on the basis of economic production per capita. This is the case for all the Nordic European countries but also for New Zealand. On the other hand,  there are countries that do better in GDP per capita than on average well-being,  for instance, the United States and Switzerland.

Denmark performs very well in many measures of well-being relative to most other countries in the Better Life Index. Denmark ranks above the average in many dimensions: housing, work-life balance, social connections, environmental quality, civic engagement, education and skills, jobs and earnings, work-life balance, health status, subjective well-being and personal security, but it ranks below average in income and wealth. 

Looking at numbers for another SDG, SDG11, we find a reason to believe that life in Denmark is perfect, since the proportion of the urban population living in slums was 0.0 % in 2016. But, at the same time, the average mean concentration of fine suspended particles of less than 2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5) was about 10.12 micrograms per cubic metre. This is above the maximum level for safety set by World Health Organisation of 10 micrograms per cubic metre which indicates us the special attention we have to pay to the environment in these cases since it can affect our wellbeing, in this case, our health.

Typical Danish

Hygge and the secret to Danish happiness