Jolting into Action for Safe Cities

“There’s no place like home.” Just like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, most of us want a safe and familiar place to return to. Yet we are living in a moment when global urbanization, rising sea levels and warming temperatures present existential threats to the places billions call home around the globe. Clicking our heels back to a simpler time is not an option.

Thankfully, governments around the world are beginning to understand the urgent need to address our changing climate and the social, environmental and economic challenges that come with it. Later this month, international leaders will consider a resolution submitted by the President of the United Nations General Assembly calling for the adoption of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will build on prior efforts, as well as pave the way for a “New Urban Agenda” to be considered at Habitat III in Quito, Ecuador.

With an audacious title, “Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” this 17-point agenda is a plan of action for people, our planet and shared prosperity. About midway down the list is goal 11: to “make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.” Recognized as the first time the United Nations is focusing on sustainability and resiliency in cities, SDG 11 is our chance to anticipate, mitigate and adapt to natural and man-made disasters.

Embedded in the goal’s general language is a call to ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services, transport systems and public spaces. It is a call to upgrade slums, enhance local capacity for sustainable development and reduce adverse environmental impacts. The hope is that the UN focus on building more inclusive, resilient cities will lead to stronger local policies and planning with more financial and technical assistance for the —> Read More