The challenge behind Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No. 11 — make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe and sustainable — is that it affects a multitude of levels. The long list of requirements include:
- ensuring access for all to safe and affordable housing;
- meeting people’s needs for basic services including energy and water;
- developing sustainable public transport systems;
- creating a built environment that can minimize the impacts of natural disasters; and
- reducing the adverse environmental impact of cities by investing in renewable energy, managing scarce resources, and improving waste and recycling systems.
Almost half of the world’s population currently lives in cities, and by 2050 that is projected to increase to over 70 percent. Research from the London School of Economics (PDF) shows us that cities currently make up 2 percent of the world’s surface area — but produce 70 percent of the global economic output.
According to UN Women, the world today is urbanizing at rates unprecedented in history. For many men and women, the chance to move to a city is a chance for a better life—a larger income, more interesting employment, a more comfortable residence and ready access to modern amenities. Yet cities are also places of deep inequality and despair. New migrants, many of them women, can end up in overbuilt slums, poorly connected to public transport or essential services such as clean water. Life becomes dangerous and unhealthy, with many obstacles to gaining a secure foothold in the urban economy.
For women, gender discrimination magnifies and adds to the risks. Not being able to take a bus to a clinic to deliver a child can result in permanent disability or death. In general, natural disasters kill more women than men and kill women at a younger age than men. If she survives a disaster such as a flood or earthquake, a woman will likely have fewer options to recover.
At Business Connect, we believe that to create more sustainable communities, we need to provide more business opportunities — focusing on those at the base of the socio-economic pyramid or the world’s most under-resourced people. And by providing access to basic essential services, such as clean water and light, we hope to move quickly to help the world achieve this goal. We are collaborating with Partners Worldwide to accept donations that will fund the start-up costs for a new business owner — providing a basic assortment of products for them to sell within their own communities. With the right training and resources, we hope to empower more women to open up their own sustainable business. too. Want to help? Contact us for details!