9 July 2018

#SDGsinAcademia: Goal 11

As part of the ongoing campaign on the Sustainable Development Goals carried out by the United Nations, United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) is presenting a weekly series of articles on #SDGSinAcademia that highlights the importance of higher education in achieving the Goals. Featuring additional sources for use by faculty and students alike, this series is intended to inspire action on the SDGs and showcase activities and initiatives of UNAI member institutions.

09 July 2018 - This week we are featuring in our #SDGsinAcademia series Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable


  • 11.1 By 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums
  • 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 
  • 11.3 By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries 
  • 11.4 Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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 
  • 11.A Support positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, per-urban and rural areas by strengthening national and regional development planning
  • 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 
  • 11.C Support least developed countries, including through financial and technical assistance, in building sustainable and resilient buildings utilizing local materials

What are UNAI member institutions doing about Goal 11? Here are some examples:

The American University of Antigua (Antigua and Barbuda) is promoting through its alumni the provision of medical aid during epidemics and natural disasters. As a result, Community Health Alliance of Medical Professionals (CHAMPS) was born, as a virtual database for volunteers where organizations in need of assistance can access the database and request help. It is not limited to medical professionals but also includes experts in psychosocial assistance and other professionals important in bringing healing during disasters. Volunteers have been already deployed under this scheme in the Caribbean.

The Universidad Sergio Arboleda (Colombia) together with governmental support and partnerships of the private sector, installed across its campus charging stations called BiciSOLAR, following the advise of experts in urban mobility. The launching of the project was in charge of the School of Exact Sciences and Engineering, to foster the environmental culture among students. The stations of solar charge, each one capable to handle up to 12 bicycles, are designed to be used by electric bicycles with assisted pedaling but are also a specialized lab for energy conversion for electric vehicles.

Mount Kenya University (Kenya) participated through its faculty in a research project on Disaster Preparedness and Safety Standards in Secondary Schools in Kenya, conducted by Nderitu Moses Kariuki and Telewa Caroline Naliaka. The study aimed at examining safety precautions and security standards put in place by school authorities, assess the measures put in place to mitigate disaster, and establish the mindset of school communities in terms of the possibility of a disaster happening in their schools. The results showed that awareness was present but preparations were inadequate in most cases.

The Universidad Católica de Valencia (Spain) has partnered with the private sector to improve its waste management system. It signed an agreement to implement a new mechanism to recycle paper and plastic. The ongoing project which is called Reciclamás or "Recycle More", involves faculty, staff and students alike. Several recycling containers were placed on campus in strategic locations such as offices, classroom and hallways as well as in common areas. Aiming to achieve some very specific environmental goals, there is also in place an awareness campaign to inform about the purposes of the initiative.

Newcastle University (United Kingdom) has developed the Clean Air for Delhi project, intended to develop an integrated action plan that details different strategies and potential interventions for mitigating air pollution in the Indian city of Delhi, and also the surrounding region. It will seek to understand current contributing factors to air pollution across the domestic, transport, industrial and agricultural sectors, among others. And, it will develop modelling tools for collating emissions inventories and how air pollution is dispersed, and collect policies and best practice for mitigation within the city and region.

Al Farabi Kazakh National University (Kazakhstan) which also serves as the UNAI Global Hub for Sustainability, is actively promoting the Green Economy concept, within the framework of a series of activities envisioned to introduce its basic concepts to students and faculty not only in Kazakhstan, but also in all neighboring countries of Central Asia and beyond. Two of the key concepts that are being implemeted on campus are energy saving and alternative transportation, to make a 'greener' and more sustainable campus, with practices that could be easily replicated in other institutions of higher education.

Southern University (Bangladesh) hosted a workshop on Disaster Response, organized as a training targeting undergraduate students on campus, with both theory and practice, to teach them how to act, face and respond during natural or manmade disasters. The team of facilitators discussed different issues and skills about disaster response and how to react in those cases. The main idea behind the experience was to improve the mitigation of the consequences and effects of the disasters, in particular in the more vulnerable sectors of the population that usually are also in higher risk.

Kansai University (Japan) organizes every year the Disaster Prevention Day, which consists of massive drills for earthquakes and other natural disasters. About 10,000 people including students, staff, faculty and residents of the surrounding community take part in the event to prepare the population for these unexpected disasters in a country where seismic events are not uncommon. The institution equipped a new gymnasium with a stockpile warehouse and also a micro-cogeneration system to supply power should there be the need to satisfy the energy demand in case of a disaster.

Cornell University (United States) works towards a sustainable means of campus transportation having implemented the President’s Sustainable Campus Committee Transportation Focus Team aimed to support collaboration between academic communities, faculty, staff, students and the community. Major on-campus actions to reduce environmental impacts resulting from transportation include policies that highly discourage automobile use and encourage other means of transport, providing free bus passes and promoting carpooling, biking, bus-taking and walking. 

Here you can take a look to a selection of the Activity Reports submitted by UNAI member institutions.


The following resources can help improving your knowledge and understanding about Goal 11 in particular and also about the SDGs in general:

  • This is a comprehensive research guide made by the United Nations Library in Geneva listing resources about the SDGs in general and about each one of the Goals, including books and articles (some of which are fully available on line free of charge), UN documents such as resolutions and reports and additional resources.
  • The SDG Fund has created this online library featuring over 1,000 online publications. The publications are categorized by the Goals they represent, by geographical regions they relate to and by authors, to facilitate easy searchability. Each publication also has a short summary attached to it which helps with keyword searches.
  • This is an initiative supported by UNDP, UN-HABITAT and the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments, which offers a selection of tools such as concept notes, papers, case studies, compilation of best practices and guides providing contextual and practical information about the SDGs.
  • This is a guide entitled Getting Started with the Sustainable Development Goals intended for stakeholders and designed by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) to serve as an initial basis for implementing the SDGs.
  • This guide entitled Getting Started with the SDGs in Universities was also developed by the SDSN to help universities, higher education institutions and the academic sector in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific to accelerate their contributions to the SDGs highlighting the important role universities have in implementing the SDGs through their teaching, research, operations and leadership, and providing practical guidance and examples to inspire further action.
  • This guide entitled Sustainable Development Goals - Human Response Alignments features the human element of change and the human response corresponding to each of the SDGs in order to quicken the global conversation about vital issues and to encourage the movement that supports the vision of the SDGs.

Sustainable Development Goals Explained: Sustainable Cities & Communities

Sustainable Development Goals Explained: Sustainable Cities & Communities
United Nations: Today, more than 50% of the world’s population lives in cities. We asked Raf Tuts, Coordinator of the Urban Planning and Design Branch of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), how Goal 11 can help us take advantage of this transformative