NEW Global Goal 11: Sustainable Cities & Communities

NEWS–The World Has New SD Goals

Historic Event. The Global Goals For Sustainable Development. “This weekend (Sept. 26-27, 2015) 193 world leaders committed to 17 Global Goals to achieve three extraordinary things over the next 15 years: end extreme poverty, fight inequality and fix climate change – in all countries, for all people.”

See Bioregional’s role and story (5 min vid) securing the Sustainable Production/Consumption Goal. It’s an inspiring example of:

  • A small group that worked for a long time to add their ideas to the SDGs.
  • A message to communicate, inspire, and motivate (text + vid)
  • The big effect one small sustainability initiative can have, bioregionalism, an old concept, and the One Planet Living sustainability framework.

SD Goal 11 — Sustainable Cities & Communities

And then, of course, they include SDG 11, just for us! The objectives stake out quite an ambitious agenda, even if not entirely concrete. Accomplishing this goal and its objectives by 2030 will require inventing the spatial manifestation of a regenerative economy, as in regenerative city-regions, on the fly, as we build one new city of 1M per week and reweave the existing urban fabric to achieve sustainable cities and communities, all within a generation. As local community sustainability planners, we have a new context in which to do our work.


This commitment to a new set of global goals for sustainable development is a “huge” deal. The Goals become the international sustainability baseline, touchstone, and driver of all UN related resources, programs, etc. ushering in an institutional change.

As great as these new goals are on one level, the discourse about them is often framed in “old school” concepts such as efficiency, mitigation, and a win/lose relationship between the economy and environment.

Yet, maybe the audacious goals of “ending extreme poverty, fighting inequality and fixing climate change – in all countries, for all people” will push the creativity to the source challenges and transformational solutions, such as creating within one generation by 2030 the material basis for a sustainable society (and requirement for “fixing” climate change):

  • a regenerative ecological economy, including
    • 100% renewable energy
    • 100% materials cycling
    • 100% water reuse
    • with 10x the current economy’s productivity
  • and compliance with the 4 Sustainability Principles of the Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development (FSSD)

Regardless, the new goals are a huge sustainability accomplishment 23 years after Rio, and a big step forward. They are the new international conceptual foundation for creating a sustainable world.

[Post prepared by Scott T. Edmondson, AICP, founder/past co-director and Research Program Lead of the Northern Section’s Sustainability Committee, one of the APA Sustainable Communities Division’s Sustainability Champions, and a strategic sustainability planner-economist at the SF Planning Department.]

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