The common assumption is that the many challenges to accomplishing the SDGs by 2030 are found in the rural areas in the developing countries, but according to the UNDP this is not the case. In fact in a recent blog post on the UNDP website, Robert Muggah and Reuben Abraham make the claim that as urban centers are increasingly playing a central role in human history it is there that sustainability must take root.

Cities, not nation states, are the dominant form of human civilization in the 21st century. Humanity transitioned from a rural to a primarily urban species – homo urbanis – at breathtaking speed. In the early 1800s, less than 3% of the world’s population lived in cities; today, more than half of the global population is urban and by 2050, the proportion will rise to three quarters.”

“There are thousands of small and medium-sized cities along with more than 30 megacities and sprawling, networked metropolitan areas — conurbations — with 15 million residents or more. Yet despite these massive transformations in how people live and interact, our international affairs are still largely dictated by nation states, not cities. This is neither fair nor tenable.”

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The argument that cities should replace the nation-state is becoming more and more obvious as global economic interconnectivity runs through urban areas.  Sustainability is increasingly necessary inside built up urban areas where most of the world’s population now live.

According to Robert Muggah and Reuben Abraham sustainability within the urban landscape should take in consideration risk mitigation, enhanced governance, inclusive absorption, and the balancing of social needs within the broader urban ecosystem.

Cities represent humanity’s most realistic hope of collective survival, not least when it comes to reversing and mitigating climate change and renewing democracy. Many enlightened and open-minded mayors are stepping up even as national politicians step back. Working in partnership with business and academia, a number of them are embracing robust environmental standards, welcoming new migrants, and aggressively promoting diversity and tolerance.”

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