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    The world is developing at an unprecedented scale. Over the next 20 years, urban population in developing countries will double to 4 billion, while the urbanized land area will triple. Rapid growth helps create new opportunities, but it has also brought serious social, economic, and environmental challenges.

    Today, 1 billion people live in urban slums, and 1.5 billion people live in countries affected by repeated cycles of violence. In the past decade, the number of people affected by natural disasters tripled to 2 billion. Low-income countries have accounted for only 9% of the disaster events but 48% of fatalities since 1980. The burden of disasters, conflict, crime, and violence falls disproportionately on the poor.

    Urban and rural communities around the world increasingly feel the urge to tackle these challenges and increase their resilience to poverty and inequality, social exclusion, violence and fragility, as well as climate change and disaster risks. Building sustainable communities—whether they are villages, cities, or countries and societies at large—will be critical to eliminating poverty and boosting shared prosperity.

    Specifically, the concept of “Sustainable Communities” of the World Bank’s Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience (SURR) Global Practice includes four key dimensions:

    • First, Sustainable Communities are environmentally sustainable in terms of cleanliness and efficiency.
    • Second, Sustainable communities are resilient to social, economic, and natural shocks. They are well prepared for natural disasters, which are increasing in intensity and frequency due to climate change.
    • Third, Sustainable Communities are inclusive communities. They bring all dimensions of society and all groups of people—including the marginalized and vulnerable—into their markets, their services, and their development.
    • And finally, Sustainable Communities are competitive communities that can stay productive and generate jobs for members of the community.

    Building inclusive, resilient, competitive and sustainable communities is essential for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, and eliminating extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity at the local, regional, and national levels.

    Join us in our efforts to build sustainable communities worldwide! Read our blog series and subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated.

  • In building Sustainable Communities, the World Bank focuses on its work in four areas, led by the Bank’s Social, Urban, Rural, and Resilience Global Practice:

    Social Inclusion and Sustainability – Social Development:

    Social Development focuses on the need to “put people first” in development processes. Poverty is more than low income – it is also about vulnerability, exclusion, unaccountable institutions, powerlessness, and exposure to violence. Social Development promotes social inclusion of the poor and vulnerable by empowering people, building cohesive and resilient societies, and making institutions accessible and accountable to citizens.

    The World Bank's social development programs span all sectors and areas of its work. They are supported by analysis to make sure Bank lending operations benefit the poor and vulnerable in the countries it serves. To complement the analytical work, the Bank has an active portfolio of projects on community empowerment and community-driven development (CDD), an approach that gives control over planning decisions and investment resources for local development projects to community groups.

    For more information, please see www.worldbank.org/socialdevelopment

    Mainstreaming Resilience – Disaster Risk Management:

    Disasters hurt the poor and vulnerable the most. From 1995 through 2014, 89% of storm-related fatalities were in lower-income countries, even though these countries experienced just 26% of storms. The impact of disasters will continue to grow as climate change increases the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.

    Over the past decade, the World Bank has emerged as the global leader in disaster risk management (DRM), supporting client countries to assess exposure to hazards and address disaster risks. It provides technical and financial support for risk assessments, risk reduction, preparedness, financial protection, and resilient recovery and reconstruction. The World Bank’s annual DRM investment has increased steadily over the past six years—from $3.7 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2012 to $5.3 billion in FY 2018.

    For more information, see www.worldbank.org/disaster

    Territorial and Rural Development – Land:

    Land is at the center of many development challenges. Estimates suggest that around 30% of land rights are registered or recorded worldwide. The World Bank is working to address land tenure insecurity through land administration projects, analytical work, and technical assistance. The World Bank actively works with countries and partners worldwide to ensure women’s equal access and secure rights to land and property. The World Bank also supports the land rights of smallholders and Indigenous Peoples, displaced people, and refugees.

    The World Bank is working on land tenure as well as land and geospatial infrastructure and systems in dozens of countries across the world, with an investment of approximately $1.5 billion in commitments, impacting millions of land holders in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa. 

    The World Bank is increasingly working to open land and geospatial datasets for acceleration of growth. The Bank is also preparing a “Land 2030 Global Initiative” to enhance the commitment of countries and mobilize resources to achieve ambitious targets of securing land and property rights by 2030.

    For more information, see www.worldbank.org/land

    Urban Planning, Services, and Institutions – Urban Development:

    The World Bank’s work in urban development aims to build sustainable cities and communities through an urbanization process that is inclusive, resilient and low carbon, productive, and livable, contributing to the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No.11, implementation of the New Urban Agenda, as well as the World Bank’s goals to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity.

    The World Bank invests an average of $6 billion in urban development and resilience projects every year to help cities meet the critical demands of urbanization. The Bank’s Urban Development strategy focuses on three priorities:

    • Financing the New Urban Agenda
    • Promoting territorial development
    • Enhancing urban resilience to climate change and disaster risks

    The three priorities are translated into six business lines:

    • Cities and economic growth
    • Urban poverty and inclusion
    • Municipal infrastructure and services
    • Affordable housing and land
    • Urban management, finance, and governance
    • Cities and urban environment

    The Bank is working in partnership with the private sector, governments, and civil society to build clean and efficient cities and communities that are resilient to natural disasters, and to create competitive economies that provide new kinds of jobs for people and ensure that everyone, especially the poorest, can benefit. 

    For more information, see www.worldbank.org/urban

  • Click on the links below to learn more about the World Bank’s operational and analytical work in:

  • The World Bank is actively working in partnership with the governments, civil society, academia, private sector, and others to build inclusive, resilient, competitive, and sustainable communities for all.

    As the partnership grows, the “Sustainable Communities” newsletter serves as a platform for development practitioners at the World Bank and around the world to stay informed and exchange ideas with their partners on the most pressing issues in global development, such as social development, urban development, disaster risk management and climate change, conflict and violence, and land governance.

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