Sustainable Development Goal #11 of 17 and Project Management, Sustainable Cities.

In this installment of our series on the SDGs, we look at #11 of 17, Sustainable Cities and Communities.

This goal encompasses ten targets of sustainable development.  The target stems from the following fact that:

  • Half of humanity – 3.5 billion people – lives in cities today
  • By 2030, almost 60 per cent of the world’s population will live in urban areas
  • 95 per cent of urban expansion in the next decades will take place in developing world
  • 828 million people live in slums today and the number keeps rising
  • The world’s cities occupy just 3 per cent of the Earth’s land, but account for 60-80 per cent of energy consumption and 75 per cent of carbon emissions
  • Rapid urbanization is exerting pressure on fresh water supplies, sewage, the living environment, and public health
  • But the high density of cities can bring efficiency gains and technological innovation while reducing resource and energy consumption

In short, the objective of this SDG is to, by 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing, essential services, upgrade slums, build sustainable transport systems, safe roads, while protecting and safeguarding the world’s cultural and natural heritage. Also by 2030 to reduce disaster-related deaths, reduce negative environmental impact, increase green spaces, strengthen urban planning and climate change mitigation strategies and programs, supporting local procurement and building resilient infrastructure, and lend support least developed nations.

There is a lot packed into this goal so how does it impact projects and project management?

Each of these targets are subjective as they use general terms “safe roads”, reduce environmental impact” etc. What is important for project managers to understand that projects that align to this SDG are simply going the extra mile to ensure that social and environmental factors are included as key performance indicators.  In order to deliver on these, project managers must understand the relevant KCIs or Key Competence Indicators.

Our Friends at the International Project Management Association (IPMA) do a great job of explaining the competence elements for sustainability.   Their Compliance, Standards and Regulations KCI is laid out as follows:IPMA ICB

Identify, and ensure that the project complies with relevant sustainability principles and objectives.


The individual is able to assess the impact of the project on the environment and society. Realizing his or her responsibility, the individual researches, recommends and applies measures to limit or compensate negative consequences. The individual follows (or even exceeds) guidelines and rules on sustainable development coming from within the organization and from the wider society, and is able to realize a workable balance between the demands of society, impacts to the eco-environment and the economy.

The individual understands that sustainability aspects, measures and attitudes often vary in different countries and cultures.


  • Identifies the social and environmental consequences of the project
  • Defines and communicates the sustainability targets for the project and its outcomes
  • Aligns objectives with organizational strategy for sustainability
  • Balances the demands of society, the environment and the economy (people, planet, profit) with project processes and products <editor note, this is the same as the GPM P5 Standard>
  • Encourages the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies

To download the ICB 4.0 for free (as it should be) go to

Dr. Joel Carboni

Dr. Joel Carboni is a highly respected expert in sustainable project management. He is a graduate of Ball State University and holds a Ph.D. in Sustainable Development and Environment. He has over 25 years of experience in project management, including government, finance, consulting, manufacturing, and education. He is a frequent speaker at conferences and events related to project management and sustainability and has worked in more than 50 countries. In addition to serving as President Emeritus of the International Project Management Association (IPMA) in the United States and being a member of the Global advisory board, Dr. Carboni is also the founder of GPM (Green Project Management) and a visiting professor at Skema Business School. He is also the GPM representative to the United Nations Global Compact, where he was a founding signatory of the Business for Peace Initiative and the Anti-Corruption call to action and a contributor to the development of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs). Dr. Carboni is the creator of the PRiSM™ project delivery methodology and the P5 Standard for Sustainability in Project Management and has written training programs on Green and Sustainable Project Management that are offered in more than 145 countries through professional training providers, business associations, and universities. He is the lead author of the book "Sustainable Project Management."

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