BEYOND 2020 will focus on creating clear links between the most relevant UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the built environment. Central to our discussion will be achieving UN Sustainable Development Goal 11, Sustainable cities and communities by the 2030 deadline. From our perspective, the path towards Sustainable cities and communities (SDG11) is only possible, if other relevant SDGs are fulfilled.


  • How can the building sector contribute towards the creation of Sustainable Cities and Communities (SDG11) of the future?
  • What other UN SDGs (see below) should play a role in the pursuit of SDG11 from the built environment perspective?
  • How does the role and importance of the UN SDGs (relevant for the built environment) differ in various parts of the world?
  • What challenges and opportunities result for the building sector from implementing the UN SDGs?

In the sections below, for each of the SDGs, you can read:

  • Under “In the built environment” what, to our interpretation, should be the commitment of the building sector towards the official SDGs targets;
  • Under “Reference to official SDG targets” some of the official SDG targets, set by the UN for a specific SDG.


In the built environment

• Access to resilient housing and infrastructure for all
• Access to affordable housing for all
• Fuel poverty

Reference to official SDG targets

1.4 Ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance.

1.5 Build the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reduce their exposure and vulnerability to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters.


In the built environment

• Healthy indoor and outdoor environment
• Healthy building materials

Reference to official SDG targets

3.9 Substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination.


In the built environment

• Assure life-long learning opportunities for all
• Enable high-quality education for a sustainable built environment

Reference to official SDG targets

4.3 By 2030, ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university.

4.4 By 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship.

4.7 By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.


In the built environment

• Waste water treatment and recycling
• Water-use efficiency in building construction and building material manufacturing

Reference to official SDG targets

6.3 Improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally.

6.4 Substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity.


In the built environment

• Buildings as renewable energy users and producers
• Energy efficiency in buildings

Reference to official SDG targets

7.2. Increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

7.3 Double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency.


In the built environment

• Job creation through sustainable building sector
•Technological innovation for improved efficiency in construction work
• Safe working environment in the construction industry

Reference to official SDG targets

8.2. Achieve higher levels of economic productivity through diversification, technological upgrading and innovation, including through a focus on high-value added and labour-intensive sectors.

8.4 Improve progressively, through 2030, global resource efficiency in consumption and production and endeavour to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, in accordance with the 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production, with developed countries taking the lead.

8.8 Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular, women migrants, and those in precarious employment.


In the built environment

• Resource-use efficiency in construction
• Adoption of clean and sustainable technologies in buildings and infrastructure

Reference to official SDG targets

9.1 Develop quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including regional and trans-border infrastructure, to support economic development and human well-being, with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all.

9.4. Upgrade infrastructure and retrofit industries to make them sustainable, with increased resource-use efficiency and greater adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes, with all countries taking action in accordance with their respective capabilities.


BEYOND 2020 Conference – Main Theme

In the built environment

• Safe, affordable and accessible transport within cities and districts
• Inclusive and participatory planning and management of built environment
• Access to green, inclusive and accessible public spaces in cities

Reference to official SDG targets

11.1 Ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums.

11.2 Provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons.

11.3 Enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries.

11.6 Reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management.

11.7 Provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities.


In the built environment

• Material life cycle and circularity
• Waste prevention, reduction and recycling in new building construction and renovation
• Sustainability reporting in construction value chain
• Sustainability-oriented procurement practices for new construction and renovation

Reference to official SDG targets

12.2 Achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources.

12.4 Achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle, in accordance with agreed international frameworks, and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil in order to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment.

12.5 Substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse.

12.6 Encourage companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle.

12.7 Promote public procurement practices that are sustainable, in accordance with national policies and priorities.


In the built environment

• Climate change mitigation and adaptation in the built environment
• Built environment resilient to natural disasters

Reference to official SDG targets

13.1 Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries.

13.3 Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning.



In the built environment

• Make the use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems sustainable

• Reduce the degradation of natural habitats and loss of biodiversity

• Financing a sustainable forest management

Reference to official SDG targets

15.1. By 2020, ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in particular forests, wetlands, mountains and drylands, in line with obligations under international agreements.

15.2. By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally.

15.5. Take urgent and significant action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity and, by 2020, protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species.

15.9. By 2020, integrate ecosystem and biodiversity values into national and local planning, development processes, poverty reduction strategies and accounts.