Building peace in the minds of men and women

Social and Human Sciences for Sustainable Cities

The growth of cities around the world is one of the defining megatrends of our time. Yet the huge social, economic, and environmental transformations that have resulted continue to pose fresh and urgent challenges to policymakers and government at all levels. The Social and Human Sciences have a crucial role to play in enabling responses to these challenges. They empower policymakers with the information, understanding, and expertise to engage in the evidence-based policymaking needed to manage this profound social transformation, fully realize its potential benefits to communities and nations, and commit to the global agenda to “leave no one behind”.

To meet SDG 11’s call to create cities that are inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable, policymakers need to grapple with problems related to increasing inequality, discrimination, resident physical and mental well-being, the impacts of climate change, as well as the provision of infrastructure, public services and decent work – all of which are also core components of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Against this backdrop, the role of migration has been acknowledged as fundamental: in its internal and international guises, it is radically transforming cities worldwide. Likewise, urbanization is compromising the socioeconomic fabric of cities, including the health and well-being of their citizens. UNESCO is working together with national and local governments, civil society, and the research community to develop policies, research initiatives and operational projects – from rejuvenating public space through sport to exploring large-scale rural-urban migration – that will build inclusive, healthy, and resilient cities, free from all forms of discrimination. Cities are coming to represent an ever-greater share of human experience, but if we do not understand them, we cannot make them work.