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SDG Library - Social inclusion and resilient cities Module

Introduction to the relevance of social inclusion and resilient cities

Historically urban development has been associated with social progress and economic development. Cities are places where entrepreneurship and technological innovation can thrive, thanks to a diverse and well-educated labor force and a high concentration of businesses. Nowadays, urban settings with an increasing human density can lead to higher inequalities regarding socio-economic and health conditions1. Unprecedented urbanization has transformed the planet with the urban population increasing from 30 percent in 1950 to more than 56 percent in 20202 . By mid-century, roughly two thirds, or 68 percent, of the world’s population will be living in urban areas with an increasing proportion of poor people.

The side effects of rapid urbanization are a consequence of increasing migration from rural areas, bringing more and more people without jobs and with limited financial resources to cities. The ongoing Covid crisis has made those inequalities even more salient and brought to light the vulnerability of the dwellers in poor and densely populated urban areas. According to the United Nations, in 2018 there were more than one billion people living in informal settlements and slums worldwide where social distancing and self-isolation remain problematic.3

Resilience has become an important goal for the cities. The etymological roots of resilience stem from the Latin resiliens, present participle of resilire, meaning to rebound, recoil. But beyond the ability of cities to adjust and adapt in the face of changes, resilience also involves the notions of inclusion, fairness and social justice. Therefore, developing urban resilience requires inserting and taking care of the most vulnerable, to bring them into the economy/labor market in order to prevent them from being ‘excluded’ from the social order and from health protection measures. Community-building and community innovation can contribute to mobilizing and valuing local human resources while enhancing urban cohesiveness and reducing tensions and violence.

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