Shaping a Sustainable Urban Future

Urban areas can be places where, one day, people live together sustainably. This course unpacks the challenges to realizing this sustainable vision, exposes the value of sustainable urbanization, and lays out what actions can be taken at various levels to contribute to a sustainable urban future.


2030 Agenda
SDG11: Sustainable cities and communities
Urban development
climate change
sustainable cities
urban planning

The UN Secretary-General has called on all sectors of society to mobilize for a 'Decade of Action' by 2030 to accelerate sustainable solutions to the world’s biggest challenges.

Cities and urban areas must be the focus of integrated action towards 2030 since they host the majority of the world’s population. Urban areas are powerhouses of economic prosperity and innovation, yet they are home to extreme environmental pollution, human exclusion and inequality. With the African and Asian continents reporting unprecedented rates of urbanization, many cities continue to struggle with a growing number of slums, overburdened infrastructure and services, rising climate vulnerability and unsustainable resource use.

Through the prism of the five ‘5Ps’ (People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnerships), the course will focus on strategies for urban sustainability including poverty and inequality reduction, climate-responsible urban development, urban governance and resilience-building. It will also touch on issues of technology, innovation, inclusion and ‘Building Back Better’ after the Covid-19 pandemic. Such strategic areas will be critical to achieving SDG 11  – “making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable” by 2030.

The course will be strongly application-based, with numerous real-city examples from around the world, and will include pathways useful to advance sustainable urban transformation. Participants will get the opportunity to engage with distinguished experts through live webinars. Assignments, exercises, quizzes, and peer sharing across the different modules of the course will further benefit the participants and add to their learning.

Target Audience

We are looking for people who do not necessarily have prior knowledge working in urban sustainability but would like help to accelerate the transition towards sustainable cities by applying the lessons learnt. This course is intended for:

  • Anyone interested in sustainable urban development – including practitioners whose work spans government, civil society, academia, the private sector, mass media, political parties, NGOs, international organizations, donors, social workers, educators, volunteers, and influencers – who have demonstrated a keen linkage and interest in contributing to the sustainable urban development discourse.
  • Sustainable development practitioners- early- and mid-career practitioners with three to seven years of experience working in the urban sustainability agenda or its elements.
  • Students – at any level of higher education, whose fields of study are related to urban areas and/or sustainable development.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the course participants will be able to:

  1. Explain the connection between the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and urban development.
  2. Identify the main challenges and opportunities (economic, social, environmental) for urban sustainability.
  3. Reflect on the crucial role of partnerships, including with individuals, in accelerating city action towards the 2030 Agenda.
  4. Examine the importance of peace, institutions, and urban governance systems in promoting sustainable cities.
  5. Recognize transformative pathways, innovative solutions, best practices and strategies for sustainable urban development.
  6. Explore the future trends of urban development and how these can play a crucial role in sustainable development