Indian Cities & SDG 11.1

Hitesh Vaidya

India is transforming into an ever more urbanised country. Most estimates indicate that India’s urbanisation is poised to accelerate in the coming decades. The scale of the projected urban population offers both an opportunity, as well as a challenge of mobilizing resources and capacity to manage this transition.

Recent global policy discourses orchestrated under the aegis of the United Nations, such as the Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030), the Paris Agreement, the Kyoto Protocol and the New Urban Agenda – all stress upon the need for concerted focus at the city and the community scale, and contribute direct tangible benefits to the quality of lives of the people. India affirms its commitment to the larger goals of urban equity and eradication of poverty, productivity, competitiveness, innovation, and urban resilience, all while respecting the carrying capacity of the planet.

A much needed urban transformation is the core focus of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11. SDG 11 consisting of 10 sub-goals and 15 indicators, is most relevant for shaping and function of future cities. It seeks to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable through eliminating slum-like conditions, providing fossil-fuel free transportation, renewable energy and improved urban planning, reducing urban sprawl, increasing participation of people in urban governance, enhancing cultural and heritage preservation, addressing urban resilience and climate change challenges, better management of urban environments (pollution and waste management), providing access to safe and secure public spaces for all, and improving urban management through better policies and regulations. India through its flagship missions, is already striving towards inclusive, safe, sustainable and adequate housing for individuals and families while promoting livelihoods, innovation, urban renewal and the preservation of India’s built heritage

The National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) and eGov magazine have collaborated to raise awareness, inform, recognize, celebrate, and share successes through bringing out a special series focusing on SDG 11. The first issue of the series focuses on SDG 11.1—by 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums. Housing plays a pivotal role in every citizen’s life—at social and personal levels, and is the epicentre of development in any country. It also provides significant stimulus to a number of other sectors as well. This issue is a collection of 13 articles and an interview related to housing situation in Indian cities. They highlight the need for a holistic understanding and assessment of the housing sector across social, environmental, and economical aspects. The broad themes covered in the articles include: housing sustainability and affordability, land tenure in affordable housing, impact of COVID on housing, heritage and housing, housing policies, and an international approach to affordable housing in India.

NIUA is committed to help Indian cities perform better. To achieve this objective, along with our own resources, we partner with media, industry, academia and other government and non-government organisations for effective research, capacity-building and advocacy outcomes. This collaboration is demonstration of the same. Teams at NIUA and eGov magazine have enthusiastically worked to collate a diverse range of knowledge-base on the crosscutting issues on housing sector in India for this special issue. My sincere thanks to all the authors who have contributed to this special issue and shared their knowledge to make this issue possible.