SDG 11 - Sustainable cities and communities

SDG 11

Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

Cities are hubs for ideas, commerce, culture, science, productivity, social development and much more. At their best, cities have enabled people to advance socially and economically. With the number of people living within cities projected to rise to 5 billion people by 2030, it’s important that efficient urban planning and management practices are in place to deal with the challenges brought by urbanization.

Many challenges exist to maintaining cities in a way that continues to create jobs and prosperity without straining land and resources. Common urban challenges include congestion, lack of funds to provide basic services, a shortage of adequate housing, declining infrastructure and rising air pollution within cities.

Rapid urbanization challenges, such as the safe removal and management of solid waste within cities, can be overcome in ways that allow them to continue to thrive and grow, while improving resource use and reducing pollution and poverty. One such example is an increase in municipal waste collection. There needs to be a future in which cities provide opportunities for all, with access to basic services, energy, housing, transportation and more.

Facts and Figures

  •     In 2016, over 64.4% of products exported by the least developed countries to world markets faced zero tariffs, an increase of 20% since 2010.
  •     Evidence from developing countries shows that children in the poorest 20 per cent of the populations are still up to three times more likely to die before their fifth birthday than children in the richest quintiles.
  •     Social protection has been significantly extended globally, yet persons with disabilities are up to five times more likely than average to incur catastrophic health expenditures.
  •     Despite overall declines in maternal mortality in most developing countries, women in rural areas are still up to three times more likely to die while giving birth than women living in urban centers.
  •     Up to 30 per cent of income inequality is due to inequality within households, including between women and men. Women are also more likely than men to live below 50 per cent of the median income

Space-based Technologies for SDG 11

Preventing and managing disasters and enhancing inclusive and sustainable urbanisation are fundamental challenges to our communities. Space technologies are essential for reducing disaster risks and managing disasters and for planning sustainable human settlements. UN-SPIDER facilitates cooperation between providers and users of satellite data and helps developing countries use space-based information. Read more here.

Learn more about the SDGs

Related Content

Event

Article

Space technologies for drought monitoring and management

The impacts of climate change are ever more apparent. The frequency and scale of devastation and destruction of weather hazards are on an increasing trend. According to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report (IPCC, 2021) climate change is intensifying the water cycle. This will cause more intense droughts in many regions. Moreover, water-related extremes impact the quality of life disproportionately strong. Drought accounts for 25% of all losses from weather-related disasters in the United States of America (Hayes et al., 2012).

Towards new applications of spaceborne technology on flood protection

Recently, in July 2021, destructive and deadly floods occurred in Western Europe. The estimated insured losses only in Germany could approach 5 billion Euros (AIR Worldwide, 2021). However, the total amount of the damage is currently not foreseeable due to the variety and complexity of the damage patterns and the unbelievable extent of the disaster. It seems the socio-economic losses will dramatically increase and break a new record in the insurance industry after evaluating the complete record of damages’ reports (see Figure 1).

How has space revolutionised subsidence?

Introduction

Land subsidence is a global phenomenon and is defined as:

“a gradual settling or sudden sinking of the Earth's surface due to removal or displacement of subsurface earth materials”  - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (2021)

Why space gardening should come down to Earth

When you think about agriculture, you probably imagine a few basic things in your mind. Huge stretches of flat land, massive harvesting machines, the heat on your skin from sunlight and, perhaps most importantly, soil. This image in your mind is a common one. Humans have been tilling, seeding, and farming land since the dawn of civilization, and modern industrial farm techniques tend to dominate our conception of agriculture. 

Can space technologies help improve WASH provision in camps and informal settlements?

The Human Right to water and sanitation

What does your morning routine look like? For most readers I’d assume you use the toilet, wash your hands, and maybe take a shower.  However, do you ever stop to consider the water you use to shower, or the soap you use to wash your hands? Often, especially in developed countries, these things are taken for granted, rightly considering access to adequate water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) as basic Human Rights (Figure 1).

Interview with Mina Konaka, Satellite engineer at JAXA

Mina Konaka works at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) as a satellite engineer and is currently working on the satellite ALOS-4, which can detect changes in groundwater on land. She attended the International Space University, participating in the project AWARE (Adapting to Water and Air Realities on Earth), in which participants aimed to provide solutions for flood and air quality risks due to climate change, using earth observation data and ground-based sensors. Mina feels strongly about the need to talk more globally about water management solutions, rather than on an individual country basis. Mina also hopes that in the future there will be more female engineers who pursue dreams of space, and that gender balance is no longer an issue.

Interview with Ruvimbo Samanga

Ruvimbo Samanga, despite her age, has vast experience in the law, space, and water sectors. She is presently involved in a regional study on the integration of GIS and statistical information in Zimbabwe, working towards the promulgation of GIS standards and legislation to support a National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI). Ruvimbo is excited by the merging of sustainable development for water management with space technologies because it is scalable, environmentally friendly, and cost-effective over the long run. Ruvimbo feels strongly that space technologies have a role to play in policy and legal affairs, and also sees potential especially in the use of emerging technologies such as block chain, artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum computing.

Interview with Lukas Graf

Lukas Graf used to take clean drinking water for granted. As he grew up, and conversations around climate change and environmental destruction became increasingly intense, he started to become more aware of the importance and scarcity of water resources. Around a similar time, he became increasingly enthusiastic about space, realising that space technologies could be used to explore many of the pressing topics that he was interested in. He has participated in research projects that used remote sensing methods to study the effects of global change on ecosystems and especially on water availability. Lukas is interested in a range of topics from virtual water and water quality to irrigation and agriculture. He believes that interdisciplinary approaches and mutual dialog with societies and stakeholders need to be deepened for sustained resource management.

Urban Water Scarcity: How data from NASA’s GRACE-FO Mission can be used for (near) real time water management

As population becomes larger the demand for water soars, including water needed for domestic, industrial and municipal uses (Mogelgaard 2011). One example of that, is India, where on 20 June 2019 the city of Chennai almost run out of water. Satellite images show the extent of the water shortage in the city (figure 1). While people are queuing up to get water from water trucks that transfer water to the city, the greatest struggle is taking place in the city’s municipal buildings and businesses. Hospitals are facing the threat of not having enough water to treat patients and to clean equipment, and businesses are forced to shut down and wait until the crisis is over.

Software/Tool/(Web-)App

ISME-HYDRO Software/Tool/(Web-)App

ISME-HYDRO

ISME-HYDRO is a platform that helps monitor water resources of dams, thus enabling water resources managers to better execute their duties. It employs linked data infrastructure integrating in-situ measurements, satellite data, GIS data, domain knowledge, deep learning, and provides capabilities of forecasting of water volumes, of alerting for hazardous situations, of interaction with the data through four kinds of search and GIS interactivity. The platform is easily extendable and customizable.

JAXA Climate Rainfall Watch Software/Tool/(Web-)App

JAXA Climate Rainfall Watch

A need to monitor precipitation extremes from space is widely recognized, especially for regions where ground-based observations are limited or unavailable. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has developed the Global Satellite Mapping of Precipitation (GSMaP) in the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission. The JAXA participated in the Space-based Weather and Climate Extremes Monitoring (SWCEM) of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) by providing the GSMaP Near-real-time Rainfall Product.

Publication

Project / Mission / Initiative / Community Portal

e-shape Project / Mission / Initiative / Community Portal

e-shape

e-shape is a unique initiative that brings together decades of public investment in Earth Observation and in cloud capabilities into services for the decision-makers, the citizens, the industry and the researchers. It allows Europe to position itself as global force in Earth observation through leveraging Copernicus, making use of existing European capacities and improving user uptake of the data from GEO assets.  EuroGEO, as Europe's contribution to the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), aims at bringing together Earth Observation resources in Europe.

In-Service ICT Training for Environmental Professionals Project / Mission / Initiative / Community Portal

In-Service ICT Training for Environmental Professionals

Decision-makers are faced with the constant challenge of maintaining access to and understanding new technologies and data, as information and communication technologies (ICTs) are constantly evolving and as more and more data is becoming available. Despite continually improving technologies, informed decision-making is being hindered by inadequate attention to enabling conditions, e.g. a lack of in-service education and professional training for decision-makers.