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


Mizan Bisri


“Sustainable development is at risk in the face of hazards and disasters perpetuated by climate change. Despite progress in science, technology, and grass roots initiatives, risk governance at some levels has not become an enabling factor for genuine resilience building. My research aims to knit better science-policy networks for accelerating actions towards the global agenda of resilience and sustainability.”

Judy Backhouse


“Cities are where most people live and work. I want to help create well-functioning and sustainable cities to improve the quality of life and reduce inequality. My research at UNU looks at how we measure conditions and improvements in cities and how those measurements support efforts to reduce inequality.”

Mariana Lameiras


“Research is imperative to take advantage of digital media and technologies for sustainable development, inclusive growth, and better governance. My aim at UNU is to look into their potential for citizens' e-Participation at the local level thriving for transparent, accountable, and participatory communities.”



Cities across the world are impacted by natural hazards. Solutions to strengthen community resilience are urgently needed. This project analyses the drivers and dynamics of current and future flood risk in urban regions of Central Viet Nam, and evaluates the potential of ecosystem-based and risk transfer solutions for sustainable risk reduction and adaptation.

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.

Transforming Urban Centres into Smart Cities

UNU is leading a Blockchain4Cities project as part of the UN’s United for Smart Sustainable Cities initiative. The aim is to design a framework for the adoption and use of distributed ledger technology to facilitate sustainability in smart city development in such contexts as energy use or waste management.