On Thursday, March 16th, 2023, the EnvironFocus team hosted our monthly webinar series on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. This month’s focus was on SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities, which included the webinar titled “Ways to ensure our Cities and Communities are Sustainable”.
SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
In order to address the need for sustainable cities and communities, the United Nations General Assembly established Sustainable Development Goal 11 (SDG 11): Sustainable Cities and Communities, which is intended to be achieved by 2030. The aim of SDG 11 is to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable. The Goal consists of several targets which provide a framework for the necessary actions to enhance the opportunities to achieve sustainable cities and communities.
This webinar was hosted by the CEO & Founder of EnvironFocus, Obie Agusiegbe, and Alicia Advincula, the Sustainability Programs Assistant. It featured expert guest panelists María Fernanda Aguirre, and Igwebuike Ijeoma.
María Fernanda Aguirre
María Fernanda Aguirre, the Executive Director of the Chile Green Building Council (GBC), joined us to discuss the different strategies and schemes of the GBC globally as well as challenges with creating sustainable cities and communities. There are different concepts, frameworks, data and strategies used and created by the GBC in order to understand and make progress towards sustainability. These include but are not limited to the study of Urban Metabolism, and the Smart Cities Model: Evaluation Framework.
María also shared with us three certifications the Green Building Council offers, the LEED, WELL, and EcoDistricts certifications. LEED has separate certifications for cities and communities, comparing national and global standards and how the chosen city or community demonstrates a commitment to sustainability as well as how it can and will improve the quality of life. A great thing about LEED is that it is applicable to new or existing communities, allowing recertification after 5 years. Many categories and specifications are taken into consideration for the LEED certification, for example “Transport and Land Use”, “Water Efficiency”, and “Materials and Resources”.
Another system is WELL for communities, and works complementary with the LEED certification. The idea of this certification is really to put the people first, including preconditions such as “Air Quality”, “Nutrition”, and “Thermal Comfort”. The last certification we discussed is the EcoDistricts, which is a great combination of LEED and WELL. It focuses on its 3 imperatives, “Equity”, “Resilience”, and “Climate Protection” and can apply to a range of sites, neighborhoods and districts.
Finally, María discussed challenges we face in trying to achieve more sustainable cities and communities and what we can do. They included increasing citizen participation, social and cultural integration, and permeating public policies at all levels. Also mentioned was decoupling economic growth from environmental impact, and recognizing and protecting the territory and its resources.
Some memorable quotes from María’s presentation:
- In most underdeveloped countries, the problem is not mitigation, it’s adaptation.
- We also need commitment in terms of policies, that provide understanding, supply education, networks, and infrastructure to obtain these sustainable cities.
- From my perspective, EcoDistricts makes the best use of LEED and WELL. It is also a system that is very achievable by underdeveloped countries which have cities that are not in the top cities of the world.
- We have a lot of challenges to achieve more sustainable cities and communities. First, we must increase citizen participation. We have to provide spaces for social and cultural integration, recognizing these demographic patterns. We have to permeate public policies at all levels. We also have to work towards decoupling economic growth from environmental impact, and we have to recognize and protect the territory and its resources.
You can also reach out to María through her LinkedIn.
Igwebuike (Stanley) Ijeoma
Igwebuike Ijeome discussed with us strategies for building sustainable cities and communities: the roles of individuals, education, training institutions, stakeholders and regulators. He discussed the importance of the involvement of the subnational and local government levels as this is where the gaps are. He believes that in the African context, they are lacking a lot of momentum, activities, infrastructure, and effort on the ground in moving from policy to practice. In order to face these issues and many more, as Igwebuike said, we need multilevel coordinated approaches.
Igwebuike also discussed his “Full Spectrum Stakeholder Engagement”. This diagram is a Broad-Based Stakeholder Mapping: Collaborative Matrix. It shows us that there are vertical, diagonal and horizontal stakeholders, and for success every stakeholder needs to be on the table and without them, we would not see much progress.
Lastly, he discussed the way forward towards sustainability cities and communities boils down to knowledge management, at the sub national and local government levels. There are many activities, frameworks, policies and so on which are built well, but there is little action taken and therefore no results on the ground. It is important that there is growth in local government’s capacity to deal with unsustainable issues. Igwebuike also mentioned the development of accountability rules and management practices which can encourage sustainable land–use management at the local government level.
Some memorable quotes from Igwebuike’s presentation:
- For us to achieve this, we need a lot of knowledge management at the subnational and local government levels, because that is where the gaps are.
- We need coordinated multi level approaches to these issues.
- The rapid deforestation that we are experiencing as a result of the population explosion is leading to unsustainable cities and communities. We need to target decision-makers at the subnational level and local government levels. That’s where we need to make the impact, that’s where investment needs to go. It looks mundane, but this is where Nigeria and most African countries need to start on the journey to building sustainable cities and communities.
We want to say a big thank you to our speakers for sharing their time and knowledge with us.
We also want to thank all of our attendees for taking the time to attend and participate in this webinar. We hope you found the webinar insightful and inspiring.
To access the full video, visit our webinar recordings page on our website.
Upcoming SDG Webinars
Missed out on this webinar? Don’t worry; we will still continue to host webinars on the third Thursday of every month on SDGs, they will just be from a different viewpoint.
In April 2023, we will have a workshop. The idea of this workshop is to identify gaps around the UN’s SDG 2 targets and indicators and how co-op organizations can be one of the bottom-up/grassroots solutions to SDG 2.
Register free now HERE.
Are you interested in being a speaker or sponsoring these webinars? Please reach out to us!
We welcome all promotional or financial partnerships, and welcome speakers or organizations that want to showcase their sustainability knowledge.
For more information, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org