Why do Cities Matter in Sustainable Development Discourse?

As current projections indicate that the majority of the world’s future population will live in urban areas, cities play a central role in the pursuit of sustainable development. This recognition materialized through the inclusion of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11 (in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development): “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”. This UN World Cities Day, October 31st, further emphasises this with the same theme. In order to strengthen resilience, adaptive capacity, and adaption to climate impact, related hazards and associated risks, cities and urban planners need to have a greater role in the local development of natural resource planning and management, with broader access to resources and a more decentralized governance structure.

Cities are not isolated. They interact extensively with surrounding regions and, increasingly, with the rest of the world. Since the emergence of new discourses and agendas, such as sustainable development, climate change, disaster risk reduction, urban development, etc., scholars stress the need to create integrated and harmonized policies and promote a coordinated decision-making approach at local, national, regional and international levels. Furthermore, they argue that achieving overlapping objectives and goals can occur when decision-makers better recognize and understand how their actions, interests, and mandates link and interact with other components within the broader system of governance.

Cities have significant potential in contributing to resource demand management (e.g., infrastructure, awareness, policy interventions, and community engagement) and urban climate-related strategies (adaptation and mitigation). Furthermore, at the city scale, there are significant opportunities for synergies between the sectors and potential for collaboration and coordination between the key actors responsible for planning and designing sustainable development plans, adaptation and mitigation responses, and disaster early warning systems, etc. There are also various significant sectoral interlinkages and urban synergies between SDG11 and potential innovations and practical solutions to advance policy coherence and interventions within cities. It is critically important for policy makers in global, regional and national governments and cities to understand these linkages and the need for coordination when devising sustainable development strategies. Despite the progress that has been achieved at a global level in recent years to help guide and drive local, national and regional processes on sustainable development, many knowledge gaps and challenges still exist that might hinder the SDG11 implementation process.

The achievement of SDG 11 is observed as a cyclical relationship with planning, implementation and monitoring and evaluation of the strategies as key responsibilities of the leader. Ultimately, strong leadership, a coherent implementation plan and engagement of all government departments and diverse stakeholders are necessary to ensure that SDG 11 is achieved at national and international levels. UN World Cities Day on October 31st is one more way of drawing attention to the context around, and the importance of, sustainable and resilient cities.

Authors: Maha Al-Zu’bi, University of Calgary, Canada; Vesela Radovic Belgrade University, Serbia

The author’s Sustainable Cities and Communities, part of Emerald’s Concise Guides to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Series, publishes on November 13th.

Article Details
Author:

Maha Al-Zu'bi

Vesela Radovic

Date Published:

October 24th, 2018

Tags:

, , ,

Would you like to contribute to our Real Impact blog? Find out how.

Recent News & Blogs

- Discover impact news from across the globe

Autism and Technology: Placing autistic people at the centre of research (or how we can move closer to this)

Nigel Newbutt - Education, Health

The field of autism and technology, or put another way technology used to help support autistic groups and individuals, is a field that has existed for over 40 years.  Over this period of time the field of research has grown and diversified in many ways.  Researchers first started looking at multimedia applications in the 1970’s

Read Article

Looking backward to move forward for real-world socio-economic impact

Riad Shams

Dr. Riad Shams is a Senior Research Fellow at the Ural Federal University, Russia. Dr. Shams has discussed here how looking back on the historical perspectives in business and management research and practice can be instrumental to proactively and profoundly move forward, in terms of prolifically dealing with the contemporary real-life socio-economic challenges. To advance business

Read Article

Emotion and the Researcher

Tracey Loughran

In October 2017, news broke that multiple women had accused Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment, assault and rape. Not long after, actor Alyssa Milano posted on social media: ‘If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet’.  The #MeToo movement was born. Milano’s original post has

Read Article

We are using cookies to give you the best experience on our website.
You can find out more about which cookies we are using or switch them off in .

Emerald Publishing Logo

Privacy Overview

This website uses cookies so that we can provide you with the best user experience possible. Cookie information is stored in your browser and performs functions such as recognising you when you return to our website and helping our team to understand which sections of the website you find most interesting and useful.

You can adjust all of your cookie settings by navigating the tabs below.

Strictly Necessary Cookies

Strictly Necessary Cookies should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings and ensure that the website works correctly, for example logging into the website.

If you disable these cookies, we will not be able to save your preferences and you may not be able to log in to the website. This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again.

3rd Party Cookies

This website uses Google Analytics to collect anonymous information such as the number of visitors to the site, and the most popular pages.

Keeping this cookie enabled helps us to improve our website.

Privacy and information

You can find further information about our privacy and cookie policy in our Privacy and information section

To enjoy the full experience of our website please .