Ideas, commerce, science, culture, productivity thrive at cities. More than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas. By 2020 two thirds of the world’s population (6.5 billion) will be urban. The increasing shift of rural to urban population because of various factors like job opportunities is called as urbanization. However the development of cities comes with its own share of challenges. Cities which occupy only 2-3 % of earths land accounts for earths land account for around 60 -80 percent of energy consumption. The increasing number of slums has become a significant feature of urbanization. Over 1 billion people currently live in slums, with the number of slum dwellers only expected to grow in the coming decades. The less developed countries or developing which have grater rates of urbanization are host to majority of the slums. The growth rate of urban areas in the developing countries are 2 % while it is 0.5 % in the developing countries. Most of these countries however has failed to develop adequate infrastructure for these growing urban population. The number of slum dwellers is projected to increase to 2 billion by 2030 and to 3 billion by 2050 if current trends persist (UN-Habitat, 2010). The presence of slums has regional and global implications, impacting areas such as education, health and child mortality, and political and social exclusion, among many other things. This necessitates efficient urban planning and management and culturally inspiring cities and inclusive green cities for future. There is a need for a rapid shift to a sustainable way in the process of creation of our urban spaces. Jobs and opportunities should be created without burdening available land and resources.
The UN explains:” The challenges cities face can be overcome in ways that allow them to continue to thrive and grow, while improving resource use and reducing pollution and poverty. The future we want includes cities of opportunities for all, with access to basic services, energy, housing, transportation and more.”
SDG 11 in Indian Context
India, which will be third largest economy just behind china and U.S.A by 2025 is one of the fastest growing economies of the world. India has witnessed a very high increase in its urban population. According to 2011 census, the urban population in India is around 31 % while it was at 11% according to 1911 census. Various statistics points to the fact Indians urban population has increased by 91 million between 2001 and 2011. Most of the Indian cities like Delhi and Mumbai faces the problem of congestion. Also this goals holds great importance in Indian context as Mumbai is home to one the world’s largest slum, Dharavi which expands over an area of 2.1 square kilometers and has a population of about 700,000. 17% percent of urban population in India lives in slums, Delhi being the most polluted capital of the world again this year again and more alarmingly India is home to 21 of the of the 30 cities in the world, there are repeated instances of floods in Chennai .Further there are numerous cases of repeated prosecution of Bangladeshi immigrants in Kolkata.
Migrants who come to cities from villages looking for better jobs and opportunities end up homeless due to various reasons like financial problems, unemployment, natural calamities etc. They end up living in small huts made of straws, plastic, polythene etc. Majority of them live in very deplorable conditions without even basic necessities like toilet food and clothes. 13 % percent of the urban households doesn’t even have basic sanitary toilets.
Efficient management of slums is essential towards this SDG as growth of slums has harmful ramifications on both humans and environment which are interlinked and not severable. Slum dwellers are vulnerable to threats like natural calamities and manmade disaster and these have direct impact on them.Their weak economic status makes it nearly impossible or extremely difficult for them to recover from the natural calamities. On the other hand, slum residents themselves can impact their environment due to lack of basic services, which results in contaminated soil and polluted air and waterways. This results in a perpetuated cycle of decline for both slum dwellers and the environment.
This can be ascribed to the fact that the capacity of slum dwellers to recover from disasters are very low compared to formal communities. Hence, increase in number of slums can be a serious challenge to sustainable development and we need efficient urban governance to combat this.
The challenge and responsibilities of achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 11 are domineering in India. Urbanization must usher in a process of inclusive economic growth and counter the trends in inter and intra-urban inequalities that have grown at an alarming rate. It is expected that the Goal will be achieved through an urban development strategy, which allows all stakeholders, especially the currently marginalized and excluded sections to participate actively in social and economic life. Govt’s policies, programmes and schemes need to ensure that there is universal access to safe and affordable housing, basic amenities and open green spaces. The strategy must include components aimed at upgradation of slums, improvements in urban planning and management practices to make them participatory and inclusive, safeguarding the heritage and protecting the citizenry against natural disasters.
Despite the fact that India has done well on many sustainable development goals and climate goals, much is yet desired to achieve sustainable development in the real sense. First and foremost is the need for a clear road map to implement the policies to achieve with identified roles for the state governments, and a monitoring mechanism to measure progress. It also needs to draw up a quick plan to overcome the want for quality data. Public education and awareness are second to none in terms invoking agency of people in achievement of sustainable cities and communities. The goal is more complex than to be achieved by the policies and government programmes alone. We thus need to harness energy, understand and involve participation of all stakeholders including the NGOs to make sustainable development a reality.
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