SDG 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities

SDG 11 aims to promote inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable cities and human settlements. This goal is all about managing urban development. Well-managed cities can be hubs of innovation and prosperity. Their management is a big cornerstone in sustainable development. As more people migrate to cities in search of better opportunities, access to affordable, safe and sustainable housing becomes a priority. Managing urban sprawl, waste management, and air pollution are essential to ensuring the well-being, health and prosperity of our population and our environment. The impact of poorly planned urbanization can be seen in the growing reality of tangled traffic, growing greenhouse gas emissions and sprawling suburbs all over the world. Ineffective cities are a burden on taxpayers, and can even lower life expectancy. Proper planning and governance can help reduce these detrimental effects. If we don’t choose to act sustainably, we miss the opportunity to build cities where all citizens live a decent quality of life, creating shared prosperity and social stability without harming the environment.

You might also be able to align your teaching to this SDG if you want your students to be able to:

  • Identify and address basic physical, social and psychological human needs in relation to human settlements such as cities and towns.
  • Apply basic principles of sustainable planning and building, and identify opportunities to make their community more sustainable and inclusive.
  • Reflect on the role of local decision-makers and participatory governance and how to represent a sustainable voice in planning and policy for their community.
  • Engage with community groups and local planning systems for sustainable future visions for their community.
  • Plan, implement, and evaluate inclusive community-based sustainable projects.


You might consider having your students reflect, share, act in some of these ways:

  • Community-based learning has high impact when it engages students to retain and transfer knowledge. Collaborate with appropriate partners and plan an activity which allows students to grow outside the classroom. Find community/industry partners at USask using the Riipen platform.
  • Community-engaged learning (CEL) can be embedded in curricular, extra-curricular, and co-curricular experiences. Activities such as volunteering can help students make connections between learning and contextual application – evidence that can be used for career development. Learn more about community learning in sustainability at USask. 
  • The City of Saskatoon and the University of Saskatchewan have a joint Climate Commitment and Call to Action. Connect with the Research Junction at USask if you’d like more information on partnerships in teaching and learning.

Some curricular connections and questions for students might be:

Media – What are the different perspectives needed to understand urban issues in the media?

Environment – What are some steps to make urban development more sustainable?

Poverty, wealth and power – How does the poverty cycle differ between rural and urban areas?

Indigenous Peoples – How are Indigenous communities impacted by urban settlement?

Peace and conflict – How can urban participation and inclusion promote peace?

Oppression and genocide – What are the impacts of oppression and segregation on urban development?

Gender politics – How does urbanization impact women uniquely?

Social justice and human rights – How can we strengthen our social support for the vulnerable?

Health and biotechnology – What are the health issues caused by urban expansion?


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