Sustainable Development Goal 11

Sustainable Cities and Communities

As dense hubs of global activity, cities present some of the greatest challenges among the Sustainable Development Goals. From housing, public health, and employment to natural resource consumption and transportation, achieving the SDGs will hinge on urban planning initiated now. By 2030, 60 per cent of the global population will reside in cities.

The issue of sustainable urbanisation interlinks with many of UNU’s focus areas ranging from governance, migration, water, and health to economic development, waste, climate change, and vulnerability to natural hazards. Our goal is to avoid the past tendency to treat these issues as discrete urban problems, and instead undertake interdisciplinary, policy-relevant analyses to find solutions with co-benefits — feasible options by which urban populations can tackle interconnected challenges.

From Apolitical to a Political Agenda for Urban Resilience


Mahesti Okitasari


“By 2050, two-thirds of humanity will live in urban areas. Efforts to achieve the SDGs are needed everywhere, but global sustainability will be won or lost in cities. My research seeks to improve urban governance and partnerships to effectively confront these global challenges in cities.”

Ngozi F. Stewart-Unuigbe

Ngozi F. Stewart-Unuigbe


“With more people moving to cities, more slums are created every day. These housing conditions make people sick, stunt economic growth, and reduce our quality of life. I’m passionate about making cities “work” for the people who live there. Cities should be places of equal opportunity, where everyone can live in security, peace, and dignity.”

Serena Caucci


“Without proper urban water services — even in poor and rural settings — we cannot achieve healthy living conditions. My research seeks to illuminate the connections between urban growth and sanitation, and to provide clean water and sanitation to all.”


Critical Infrastructure

To survive and thrive, society needs basic services such as electricity, transportation, water, health care, and telecommunications. But these services are often unavailable after disaster strikes. To better inform disaster preparedness plans, this project determines what levels of critical services societies need to survive in the aftermath of natural hazards.

African Research College on Sustainable Cities

The African Research College on Sustainable Cities provides the next generation of African researchers with the knowledge and training needed to solve the continent’s pressing challenges of today and tomorrow.

Migration and Cities

Cities are spaces of opportunity and hope, where many migrants seek to build new lives. This project is exploring the nexus of urban expansion and migration, focusing specifically on how international migration is experienced at local levels, as well as examing how good policies and practices can contribute towards the good governance of human mobility.