SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
In 2015, the UN General Assembly set the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. These goals are expected to be met by 2030. Goal 11 of the SDGs relates to sustainable cities and communities. According to the United Nations, creating job and business opportunities, securing affordable housing, and developing resilient communities, are all part of making cities sustainable. It entails investing in public transportation, establishing green public areas, and promoting participatory and inclusive urban planning and management.
Urbanization and economic growth are thought to be intertwined, especially in developed countries where they have frequently occurred simultaneously. Cities are expected to contribute more than 80% of the overall Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Higher per capita income and better employment opportunities are associated with more urbanized regions. Cities are also major sources of entrepreneurship and innovation. Technological innovation and economic prosperity are aided by urbanization. Continue reading our blog to understand Pakistan’s performance on SDG:11 and the challenges faced by the country in achieving its targets.
Pakistan’s Performance on SDG 11
In South Asia, Pakistan has the highest rate of urbanization. According to the 2017 Population Census, urban regions are home to 36.4 percent of the population. This figure was 32.5 percent in 1998. According to the Planning Commission’s 2011 Task Force Report on Urban Development, since 1951, the average yearly pace of urbanization has exceeded 4 percent. (Task Force Report on Urban Development, 2011). According to the UN Population Division, about half of the country’s population would be living in cities by 2025, with roughly 12 cities housing more than one million people (SDG Compass, 2021).
Cities in Pakistan create 55 percent of the country’s GDP. Furthermore, ten big cities account for 95 percent of Pakistan’s federal tax revenue. Karachi alone accounts for 12-15 percent of Pakistan’s GDP and 55 percent of the country’s federal tax receipts. In Pakistan, seven out of ten major cities have higher per-capita incomes than the national average. Poverty is often lower in cities (i.e. urban multidimensional poverty is one-sixth of that of rural areas) (Alam, 2019).
Recent research, however, reveals that the link between urbanization and growth is not always automatic. Many emerging countries have experienced urbanization without development, jobs, or productivity. Only sound public policies can reap the benefits of urbanization. Urban slums, environmental degradation, poverty, and inequality have all arisen from unplanned and mismanaged urbanization. As per the 2021 Sustainable development report, Pakistan’s performance did not remain satisfactory in the targets associated with SDG 11. The country’s performance is stagnating or increasing at less than 50% of the required rate (Sustainable Development Report, 2021). Major challenges are still growing. Inequality of income and limited access to mobility and resources such as water, job opportunities, and housing is becoming increasingly problematic in every major city in the country.
Challenges Faced by Pakistan in Achieving SDG 11
Cities that are sustainable do not only have the smart infrastructure or solar panels that are strewn about. In reality, they advocate for inclusive growth and have a strong public agenda that prioritizes planning for society’s most vulnerable citizens. In terms of the latter, without an inclusive development approach, our cities will face significant challenges. The targets of SDG 11 are concerned with combining social, environmental, and economic concerns. For example, there is a focus on providing appropriate, safe, and cheap housing, as well as basic services and slum upgrading. In terms of indicator selection, the percentage of the people living in slum settlements is linked to a city’s sustainability— the lesser the percentage, the more sustainable the city will become. Slums are growing at an alarming rate in urban areas, including Islamabad. About half the population of Karachi lives in slum communities. According to the United Nations’ world cities report, Karachi’s Orangi Town, which has a population of 2.4 million people, is the world’s largest slum. Karachi has also been named one of the world’s 10 least habitable cities by the Economist Intelligence Unit (World Cities Report 2020: The Value of Sustainable Urbanization, 2020).
The Way Forward
The objective for sustainable transportation emphasizes that public transportation systems should be inexpensive and accessible to everyone. For example, Karachi, a city of almost 20 million people, lacks a public transit system. Then there’s the matter of balancing physical growth with the need to protect natural and heritage assets. While public transportation is being upgraded in Lahore, there is a genuine concern that it may come at the expense of the city’s historical legacy. It is critical that we thoroughly reconsider our cities and urban spaces in order to promote environmentally friendly, long-term growth. The SDGs can assist in identifying a roadmap of policy and institutional reforms that would enable effective implementation. They also call for the establishment of a comprehensive monitoring system that is data reliant.
Globally, there is an urban revolution taking place in which the state’s function is being redefined — the job of ensuring that all are supplied for, rather than providing for all. This paves the path for innovative collaborations and partnerships between the government, the commercial sector, communities, and other urban stakeholders. We need to establish a similar enabling environment in which the trademarks of urban settlements — creativity, variety, and enterprise – find new life and energy to alter our urban landscape. A sustainable city demands a public agenda, which can only be achieved if urban governance is made more open and socially responsible.
Alam, A. R. (2019). Not quite livable, let alone “sustainable”. The News . Retrieved from https://www.thenews.com.pk/tns/detail/590079-not-quite-livablelet-alone-sustainable
(2021). SDG 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. SDG Compass. Retrieved from https://sdgcompass.org/sdgs/sdg-11/
(2021). Sustainable Development Report . Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from https://dashboards.sdgindex.org/static/profiles/pdfs/SDR-2021-pakistan.pdf
(2011). Task Force Report on Urban Development. Planning and Development Division . Retrieved from http://arifhasan.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/TaskForceReport06-05-2011.pdf
(2020). World Cities Report 2020: The Value of Sustainable Urbanization. UN-Habitat. Retrieved from https://unhabitat.org/World%20Cities%20Report%202020
What does SDG 11 entail and why is it important for sustainable development?
What is Pakistan’s performance on SDG 11?
What are the challenges being faced by Pakistan in achieving SDG 11?
What are the possible policy options needed to achieve the targets of SDG 11?