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Cities and the Challenge of Sustainable Development

Jeffrey D. Sachs

According to the United Nations, urbanization and population growth could result in an increase of 2.5 billion people into urban populations by 2050, with associated impacts ranging from increased transportation needs to more building. How do we make cities sustainable to support this growth?

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According to the United Nations, urbanization and population growth could result in an increase of 2.5 billion people into urban populations by 2050, with associated impacts ranging from increased transportation needs to more building. How do we make cities sustainable to support this growth?

In this mini-series, learn the challenges of local governments to adapt to new technologies, energy systems, modes of transportation and more in order to build the sustainable cities of the 21st century.

This mini-series is a companion piece to the SDG Academy's full-length Sustainable Cities course.

This course is for:

  • Anyone new to the concept of sustainable cities or smart cities who wants to understand the foundations of modern urban development
  • Graduate students and advanced undergraduate students in architecture, real estate development, sustainable development, sustainable business and other related fields who want a concise overview of the concept of sustainable cities
  • Sustainable development practitioners interested in the basics of sustainable development for cities around the world
  • Private-sector actors, such as those who work in technology, telecommunications, transportation or the energy industry – whose work can contribute to and redefine this space

What's inside

Learning objectives

  • The basics of sustainability
  • The sustainable development goals and how they apply to cities
  • What constitutes a sustainable city
  • How various sectors contribute to modern, sustainable urban development

Syllabus

Module 1: Introduction to the SDGs
Professor Jeffrey Sachsintroduces the SDGs and their importance.This module briefly describes the importance of creating sustainable living spaces and what we can expect from a future that is built on the principles of economic prosperity, social inclusion and environmental sustainability.
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Module 2: Why Cities? The Importance of SDG 11
Professor Sachs talks about the ideas and thought-processes that are used to work towards achieving sustainable cities. He elaborates the circumstances in which SDG 11 was created, and uses current data to estimate future global needs and the expectations that must be fulfilled to establish sustainable cities. The outcomes of modifying and designing cities for the increasing world population are also elaborated.
Module 3: The 10-Point Agenda for 21st-Century Cities
Professor Sachs discusses the pros and cons of advancements in science and technology. He outlines a 10-point agenda for sustainable cities and discusses each topic individually to elaborate the breadth and depth of this complex issue.
Module 4: Urban Environment and Energy Systems
Professor Sachs highlights the escalating issues due to climate change and pollution and establishes the urgent need to achieve clean and smart cities. To illustrate the limited timeline under which sustainability must be achieved, he uses current data to forecast possible future solutions. Thismodule also includes examples of new methods and cutting-edge technologies that can be used to achieve SDG 11.
Module 5: Cities as Hubs of Knowledge
This concluding module draws on the cross-cutting issues previously discussed, including the importance of developing urban settlements into smart, shared spaces that foster creativity and knowledge growth. Using case studies, Professor Sachs provides further examples of how this is being done across the world, and how this method can be applied in the future.

Good to know

Know what's good
, what to watch for
, and possible dealbreakers
Introduces core development principles within the context of sustainable cities and smart cities
Provides a concise overview of the concept of sustainable cities
Taught by a recognized expert in sustainable development and economics
Covers a broad range of topics, including sustainable development goals, urban planning, energy systems, and urban environment
Suitable for learners with no prior knowledge of sustainable cities or smart cities

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Career center

Learners who complete Cities and the Challenge of Sustainable Development will develop knowledge and skills that may be useful to these careers:
Architect
Architects design and oversee the construction of buildings. With a focus on sustainability, this course helps to build a foundation for architects to design buildings that are environmentally friendly and energy efficient. The course covers topics such as sustainable building materials, renewable energy sources, and green building techniques, all of which are essential knowledge for architects who want to create sustainable cities.
Urban Planner
Urban planners develop plans for the development and use of land in cities. This course can help urban planners to understand the challenges of sustainable development and how to create sustainable cities. The course covers topics such as land use planning, transportation planning, and environmental planning, all of which are essential knowledge for urban planners who want to create sustainable cities.
Environmental Engineer
Environmental engineers develop solutions to environmental problems. This course can help environmental engineers to understand the challenges of sustainable development and how to create sustainable cities. The course covers topics such as air pollution, water pollution, and solid waste management, all of which are essential knowledge for environmental engineers who want to create sustainable cities.
Sustainability Consultant
Sustainability consultants help organizations to develop and implement sustainability strategies. This course can help sustainability consultants to understand the challenges of sustainable development and how to create sustainable cities. The course covers topics such as sustainability reporting, greenhouse gas accounting, and life cycle assessment, all of which are essential knowledge for sustainability consultants who want to help organizations create sustainable cities.
Energy Manager
Energy managers develop and implement energy efficiency programs. This course can help energy managers to understand the challenges of sustainable development and how to create sustainable cities. The course covers topics such as energy auditing, renewable energy, and energy efficiency, all of which are essential knowledge for energy managers who want to create sustainable cities.
Transportation Planner
Transportation planners develop plans for the transportation system in cities. This course can help transportation planners to understand the challenges of sustainable development and how to create sustainable cities. The course covers topics such as public transportation, walking, and biking, all of which are essential knowledge for transportation planners who want to create sustainable cities.
Water Resource Manager
Water resource managers develop plans for the management of water resources in cities. This course can help water resource managers to understand the challenges of sustainable development and how to create sustainable cities. The course covers topics such as water conservation, water quality, and wastewater treatment, all of which are essential knowledge for water resource managers who want to create sustainable cities.
Renewable Energy Project Developer
Renewable energy project developers develop and implement renewable energy projects. This course can help renewable energy project developers to understand the challenges of sustainable development and how to create sustainable cities. The course covers topics such as solar energy, wind energy, and geothermal energy, all of which are essential knowledge for renewable energy project developers who want to create sustainable cities.
Environmental Policy Analyst
Environmental policy analysts develop and analyze environmental policies. This course may help environmental policy analysts to understand the challenges of sustainable development and how to create sustainable cities. The course covers topics such as environmental law, environmental economics, and environmental impact assessment, all of which may be useful for environmental policy analysts who want to create sustainable cities.
Sustainable Business Consultant
Sustainable business consultants help businesses to develop and implement sustainability strategies. This course may help sustainable business consultants to understand the challenges of sustainable development and how to create sustainable cities. The course covers topics such as sustainability reporting, greenhouse gas accounting, and life cycle assessment, all of which may be useful for sustainable business consultants who want to help businesses create sustainable cities.
Social Entrepreneur
Social entrepreneurs develop and implement social enterprises that address social problems. This course may help social entrepreneurs to understand the challenges of sustainable development and how to create sustainable cities. The course covers topics such as social innovation, social impact measurement, and social enterprise financing, all of which may be useful for social entrepreneurs who want to create sustainable cities.
Nonprofit Manager
Nonprofit managers oversee the operations of nonprofit organizations. This course may help nonprofit managers to understand the challenges of sustainable development and how to create sustainable cities. The course covers topics such as nonprofit governance, fundraising, and program evaluation, all of which may be useful for nonprofit managers who want to create sustainable cities.
Community Organizer
Community organizers work to empower communities to solve their own problems. This course may help community organizers to understand the challenges of sustainable development and how to create sustainable cities. The course covers topics such as community development, citizen participation, and advocacy, all of which may be useful for community organizers who want to create sustainable cities.
Journalist
Journalists report on news and current events. This course may help journalists to understand the challenges of sustainable development and how to create sustainable cities. The course covers topics such as environmental reporting, data journalism, and investigative journalism, all of which may be useful for journalists who want to report on sustainable development and sustainable cities.
Educator
Educators teach students about various subjects. This course may help educators to understand the challenges of sustainable development and how to create sustainable cities. The course covers topics such as environmental education, sustainability education, and global education, all of which may be useful for educators who want to teach about sustainable development and sustainable cities.

Reading list

We've selected 13 books that we think will supplement your learning. Use these to develop background knowledge, enrich your coursework, and gain a deeper understanding of the topics covered in Cities and the Challenge of Sustainable Development.
Comprehensive guide to sustainable city development, written by Jeffrey D. Sachs, a leading expert in the field. It provides a framework for action and addresses the challenges of urbanization, climate change, and inequality.
Provides a systematic approach to urban sustainability, covering topics such as urban planning, transportation, energy, water, and waste management. It valuable resource for anyone interested in the challenges and opportunities of sustainable city development.
Provides a comprehensive overview of national urban policy in the United States, discussing the challenges and opportunities facing cities in the 21st century. It is an essential read for anyone interested in the future of urban development.
This report from the United Nations examines the role of cities in sustainable development, highlighting the challenges and opportunities facing urban areas. It valuable resource for anyone interested in the future of cities.
This guide from the United Nations provides a comprehensive overview of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including their targets and indicators. It valuable resource for anyone interested in sustainable development.
Provides a comprehensive overview of urban sustainability, covering topics such as urban planning, transportation, energy, water, and waste management. It valuable resource for anyone interested in the challenges and opportunities of sustainable city development.
Provides a vision for sustainable cities in the 21st century, outlining the challenges and opportunities facing urban areas. It valuable read for anyone interested in the future of cities.
Explores the potential of smart cities to improve urban life, examining the use of big data and other technologies to address challenges such as transportation, energy, and water management. It valuable read for anyone interested in the future of cities.
Provides a critical introduction to sustainable development, discussing the challenges and opportunities facing the world in the 21st century. It valuable read for anyone interested in the future of sustainability.
Provides a comprehensive overview of the ecological city, discussing the challenges and opportunities of preserving and restoring urban natural areas. It valuable read for anyone interested in the future of cities and the environment.
This report from the United Nations provides a comprehensive framework for action on sustainable cities and communities, covering topics such as urban planning, transportation, energy, water, and waste management. It valuable resource for anyone interested in the future of cities.
Discusses the impact of cities on the modern world, examining their economic, social, and environmental effects. It valuable read for anyone interested in the future of cities.
Explores the rise of smart cities, discussing the challenges and opportunities of using technology to improve urban life. It valuable read for anyone interested in the future of cities.

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