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Sustainable Development Goal 11

Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Decisions made in cities today will determine whether humans succeed at creating a sustainable future. An estimated 70% of the global population will live in urban areas by 2050, escalating the demand for clean air and water, transportation, housing and more. This poses steep challenges related to inequities in urban service provision, resource use, environmental degradation and economic productivity.

WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities works to identify solutions for sustainable urban growth (SDG 11.3), enable access to safe, affordable and accessible transport systems (SDG 11.2) and create more equal cities (SDG 10). We collaborate with the WRI Climate Resilience Practice to strengthen cities’ resilience to climate change (SDG 11.3, SDG 11.A, SDG 11.B). Our Building Energy Accelerator fast-tracks solutions for low-emission buildings and affordable housing (SDG 11.1). Our Sustainable Urban Mobility program aims to accelerate safer and cleaner transportation systems, including electric vehicles (SDG 11.2).

Our flagship World Resources Report, “Towards a More Equal City,” a five-year project with multiple thematic papers on urban issues and city case studies, is transforming how city leaders, corporate executives and civil society approach urban development challenges in the global south. By focusing on solutions to improve access to core services — such as housing, transport, water and sanitation — by under-served populations, we are helping to make cities better for all people (SDG 11).


This working paper describes water access challenges in cities of the global south that have been hitherto largely invisible in global indicators. In analyzing 15 cities, we found that piped utility water is the most affordable option, yet, on average, almost half of all households lack access, and most of those that do have access receive intermittent service. This paper highlights four key action areas for cities to improve water access: extending the formal piped water network, addressing context-specific causes of intermittent water service, pursuing diverse strategies to make water affordable, and supporting informal settlement upgrading.


This paper introduces the Urban Community Resilience Assessment (UCRA), a tool developed by WRI that offers a three-level resilience scorecard for cities, communities and individuals with the aim of informing urban resilience planning by integrating different resilience needs. Effective urban climate resilience strategies can reflect the specific needs of vulnerable communities and ensure that communities and their residents are included in planning processes that aim to reduce climate change risks.

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