Goal #11

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

SDG 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities

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

UNSW is committed to this goal and demonstrates its commitment through:

  • City Futures Research Centre that advances the understanding of cities focusing on people, places, policies and technologies through research and partnerships
  • learning and teaching programs that inspire students to contribute to sustainable cities; safe and affordable housing and transport for students
  • operational focus on ensuring our campuses are easily accessible, safe, and sustainable.

What are the features of a good or sustainable city?

Today, over half of the world’s population live in cities (3.5 billion) and by 2050 its expected to be two thirds at 6.5 billion. That means we need to build a new city for 1 million people each week to keep up, or manage the growth of the cities we already have. Cities are the powerhouses of economic growth, contributing over 80% of global GDP and functioning as catalysts for inclusion and innovation. However, cities also account for about 70% of global energy consumption, greenhouse gas emission and resource consumption. The environmental impact of cities extends well beyond their borders. Sustainable development cannot be achieved without significantly transforming the way we build and manage our urban spaces.

In this video, Professor Tommy Wiedmann from the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, UNSW, breaks down some of the key challenges behind SDG #11.

Sydney harbour with the Opera House, a cruise ship and ferries

City Futures Research Centre 

Since 2005, the City Futures Research Centre has developed into a national leader in scholarly applied public interest research on our cities since 2005. In undertaking this research, they collaborate with a range of academic researchers, both within UNSW and at universities across Australia and overseas. Their applied focus also involves strong partnerships with local, state and federal government agencies, as well as industry stakeholders and community groups, to develop evidence-based ideas for tackling the complex challenges of urban change and growth, while maintaining its commitment to independent public interest research.

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UNSW Environmental Sustainability

Environmental sustainability is a key element of our 2025 Strategy. Through this, we have made it our mission to become the first university in Australia to commit to having 100% of its electricity supplied by photovoltaic solar power. Our students and staff are actively engaged in environmental and social issues. We recognise that we are uniquely positioned to contribute to solving global environmental challenges through teaching, research, thought leadership and demonstrating leading practices on our campuses.

Download the Environmental Sustainability Plan 

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UNSW 2025 Strategy Update

This document celebrates the key achievements of the first phase of the 2025 Strategy, highlighting where we have come from and where we are now. It also updates the framework against which we will assess, track and measure existing and new strategic initiatives over the next five years.


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UNSW Indigenous Strategy

Led by Professor Megan Davis, Pro Vice-Chancellor Indigenous, the Strategy provides an overarching framework for Indigenous education, employment and research. Taking a whole-of-university approach means this strategic vision is implemented across all aspects of the University's operations.

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Curating Cities: A Database of Eco Public Art 

Curating Cities is a five-year research project that examines how the arts can generate environmentally beneficial behavioural change and influence the development of green infrastructure in urban environments. Drawing on case studies from around the world, Curating Cities assesses the ongoing and potential contribution of public art to eco-sustainable development and the benefits to Sydney and cities in general. The project provides a rubric for public art in relation to the fundamental domains of sustainable planning: energy, water, food and waste. 

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