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Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainable Development Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

In 2007 the world’s urban population outnumbered its rural population for the first time in history. The rapid growth of cities in the developing world is placing enormous demands on food systems. Cities expand into fertile land, and the food needs of urban families increase, competing for natural resources such as land and water.  

Inevitably, fluctuating food prices tend to hit urban consumers the hardest, as they are almost exclusively dependent on food purchases. Variations in food prices and income directly translate into diminished purchasing power and rising rates of food insecurity, compromising their dietary quantity and quality.

While family farms still produce 80 percent of the world’s food, recent trends have seen agriculture – including horticulture, livestock, fisheries, forestry and milk production – increasingly spreading to towns and cities and its peripheries. Urban and peri-urban agriculture can provide fresh food, generate employment, recycle urban organic waste, create greenbelts, and strengthen cities’ resilience to climate change.

Along with promoting urban and peri-urban agriculture - defined as the growing of plants and the raising of animals within and around cities, FAO is increasing collaboration with partner organizations like UN-HABITAT in rural-urban linkages and land tenure issues. FAO is also involved in a variety of inter-agency initiatives to improve city region food systems, urban health, water quality and wastewater management, nutrition and humanitarian responses to crisis in urban areas.

Facts and figures

  • Half of humanity – 3.5 billion people – lives in cities today.
  • By 2030, almost 60 per cent of the world’s population will live in urban areas.
  • 95 per cent of urban expansion in the next decades will take place in developing world – mostly in Africa and Asia.
  • 828 million people live in slums today and the number keeps rising.
  • The world’s cities occupy just 2 per cent of the Earth’s land, but account for 60-80 per cent of energy consumption.
  • Rapid urbanization is exerting pressure on fresh water supplies, sewage, the living environment, and public health.
  • But the high density of cities can bring efficiency gains and technological innovation while reducing resource and energy consumption.

SDG11 Targets

  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.

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

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.

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

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