7 January 2019

#SDGsinAcademia: SDG Hub for Goal 11

As part of the ongoing campaign on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) carried out by the United Nations, United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) series #SDGSinAcademia profiles the new SDG Hubs for each of the Goals in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

7 January 2019 - This week our #SDGsinAcademia series features Carlos III University of Madrid (Spain), a member institution of United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI), that has been chosen as the SDG Hub for Goal 11:  Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

About the Hub:

The mission of Carlos III University of Madrid (UC3M) is to contribute to the improvement of society through high quality education and cutting-edge research in line with stringent international guidelines.  All its activities are guided by the values of merit, ability, efficiency, transparency, fairness, equality and respect for the environment.

UC3M was established in 1989 and from the outset was intended to be innovative, open to the world, sensitive to multiculturalism, and modern in research techniques, teaching methods, and equipment. As a state-established university it is deeply involved in promoting the United Nations’ values through education, while having a wide range of development and cooperation programs and a network of collaboration agreements.

What is this Hub doing about Goal 11? 

The university has a particular interest in many of the issues related to Goal 11, including graduate programs and courses on sustainable urbanism. It hosts the Pascual Madoz Institute of Land, Urbanism and Environment, which is an interdisciplinary research center working with governmental agencies and offices as well as the industrial sector, providing advice and scientific-technical expertise.

One of the Institute’s key research areas is urbanism and land planning and in the last few years it has organized several seminars and workshops on sustainable cities and communities. In addition, the University actively promotes innovative forms of waste management through, for instance, selective waste collection and a comprehensive recycling program to advance sustainability.  To that end, the university has partnered with civil society organizations to carry out awareness campaigns about the impact of waste in nature and encourages the use of alternative forms of transportation and the university subsidizes the use of public transportation for faculty and staff. It also offers charging stations for electric vehicles and access to a bicycle-sharing system.

Recently, the university conducted a survey to measure and analyze the mobility of the students and promoted  European Mobility Week to promote clean, shared, and intelligent mobility, including a video contest on this subject. Also, on an annual basis, UC3M organizes ‘Green Week’, aimed at promoting recycling and the values of sustainability, in line with the commitment to shape students as global citizens.

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The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2018 reviews progress in the third year of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It has an overview that presents highlights of progress and remaining gaps for all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), based on the latest available data, and examines some of the interconnections across Goals and targets.

This is the overview provided in the Report about Goal 11:

  • Many cities around the world are facing acute challenges in managing rapid urbanization— from ensuring adequate housing and infrastructure to support growing populations, to confronting the environmental impact of urban sprawl, to reducing vulnerability to disasters.

  • Between 2000 and 2014, the proportion of the global urban population living in slums dropped from 28.4 per cent to 22.8 per cent. However, the actual number of people living in slums increased from 807 million to 883 million.

  • Based on data collected for 214 cities/municipalities, about three quarters of municipal solid waste generated is collected.

  • In 2016, 91 per cent of the urban population worldwide were breathing air that did not meet the World Health Organization air quality guidelines value for particulate matter (PM 2.5); more than half were exposed to air pollution levels at least 2.5 times higher than that safety standard. In 2016, an estimated 4.2 million people died as a result of high levels of ambient air pollution.

  • From 1990 to 2013, almost 90 per cent of deaths attributed to internationally reported disasters occurred in low- and middle-income countries. Reported damage to housing attributed to disasters shows a statistically significant rise from 1990 onwards.

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The following resources provide general information about the SDGs:

  • This is a comprehensive research guide from the UN Library in Geneva listing resources 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, geographical regions and by authors, to facilitate searchability. Each publication also has a short summary attached to it which helps with keyword searches.

  • This selection of tools is an initiative supported by UNDP, UN-HABITAT and the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments, which offers concept notes, papers, case studies, compilation of best practices and guides providing contextual and practical information about the SDGs.

  • This guide, entitled “Getting Started with the Sustainable Development Goals”, is intended for stakeholders and designed by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) to serve as an initial basis for implementing the SDGs.

  • SDSN also developed this guide, entitled “Getting Started with the SDGs in Universities”, to help universities, institutions of higher education and the academic sector in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific to accelerate their contributions to the SDGs by providing practical guidance and examples to inspire further action.

You can learn more about the SDG Hubs at the UNAI website.  

Is your institution a member of UNAI and conducting activities and initiatives around Goal 11? Contact us at academicimpact@un.org to tell us about your work and let us connect your university with the SDG Hub! Working together we can make the 2030 Agenda a reality!