SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Did you know that more than half of the world’s population lives in cities? Even though cities only make up 3% of the earth’s land, more than 3.5 billion people live in cities today, and that number is only growing.

Cities are also economic powerhouses, and contribute greatly to the world economy with large numbers of people working in offices, factories, construction and stores. Unfortunately, this also means that cities are largely responsible for alarmingly high levels of air pollution and carbon emissions from the production of goods and services and the consumption of energy for transportation, and electricity and heating of the many buildings and apartments. These levels put our environment in danger.

As more people make cities their homes, it is very important to focus on making cities safe, inclusive, and sustainable. Are there sidewalks in your city? Are there enough jobs and homes for everyone? Is it safe for your family to walk at night? Is the air in your city clean? Are the parks taken care of?

These are just some of the questions that SDG 11 tries to address. Since more than half of humanity is living in cities, it is essential to focus on improving conditions in cities in order to make them safe and welcoming for people around the world.

Our new reading list covers many of these topics and we hope the stories will inspire you to think about ways that you can help improve the community that you live in.

The SDG Book Club makes content available in the six official languages of the United Nations – please see our other pages for more recommendations in ArabicChineseFrenchRussian and Spanish.

On the importance of reading

Reading list

Awesome Buildings book cover

Potatoes On Rooftops: Farming in the City

This is a comprehensive overview of food supply to the city. It covers a wide range of topics, looking at aspects of food supply as well as the growth of food. The examples and photos are from all over the world and include some inspirational and important projects.

Author: Hadley Dyer | ISBN: 9781554514243| Publisher: Annick Press

Wild Buildings and Bridges book cover

Out of the way! Out of the way!

This is a great picture book about urban growth and how to get along with others. The story about a little boy caring for a tree in the middle of a path and how he protects the tree. As time passs the path diverted around the tree. The tree keeps growing as the community changes and people can relate to how fast the world change and how busy it is in the streets. The growing tree shares a message that time doesn’t change all things.

Author and Illustrator: Uma Krishnaswami | ISBN: 978-81-8146-792-8 | Publisher: Tulika Publishers

Camila Cartographer book cover

The Streets are Free

The Streets are Free tells the story of how determination and teamwork go a long way for the children of San Jose in Venezuela, who dream of a playground. The streets in their town are getting busier, and they have no space to gather and play. Because many adults ignore their demands, these kids take matter into their own hands.

Author: Kurusa | Illustrator: Monika Doppert | ISBN: 978-1550373707| Publisher: Annick Press

One Plastic Bag book cover

Errol’s Garden

A beautifully simple introduction to community activism and the possibilities of creative gardening in urban spaces.

Author: Gillian Hibbs | ISBN: 9781786280855 | Publisher: Child’s Play (International) Ltd.

Reading is a great way to better understand what people from across the globe struggle with in their everyday lives, and it helps us reflect on our own situation. But reading is just the first step: now it’s time to share your book club experiences and how you plan to take action. Each month, we will feature a couple of book clubs on our blog, so get ready to share your story through social media, by using #SDGBookClub and tagging @UNPublications.


We know it can be difficult to stay at home to protect ourselves and our loved ones from COVID-19. This is why we created a new guide on how to organize your own SDG Book Club online to connect with your friends and family while sharing the joy of reading. We look forward to hearing about your experience on social media using #SDGBookClub.

How to organize your own SDG Book Club ONLINE

Help us spread the word by downloading our promotional materials. You will find a horizontal banner, bookmark, placard and easy-to-print sign-up sheet for your friends, family and community to join the SDG Book Club!

Sign-up sheet

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Frequently Asked Questions

The SDG Book Club aims to use books as a tool to encourage children ages 6-12 to interact with the principles of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through a curated reading list ofbooks from around the world related to each of the 17 SDGs in all six official UN languages—Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish.

A selection committee works together to make the final selection for each of the 17 SDGs, in all six official UN languages —Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish. The selection committee consists of members from the United Nations, International Publishers Association (IPA), the International Federation of Librarian Associations (IFLA), European and International Booksellers Federation (EIBA), International Authors Forum (IAF), and International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY).

Fiction, non-fiction, and other genres that our panel thinks will help educate children about SDGs will be considered.

The reading list is meant for children ages 6-12. However, we encourage parents, educators, and everyone who is interested to read the selected books and help children understand the importance of the SDGs.

The reading list will be published during the first week of every month for 17 months, starting with Goal 1: No Poverty in April 2019 and culminating with Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals in September 2020 for the 5th anniversary of the SDGs.

Yes. Sign up on our homepage to get a monthly email on news and updates. Your privacy is important to us so we would never share your information with third parties or spam your inbox.

No. We do not intend to sell or promote the sale of the books featured in the reading list. If you chose to, you can buy the books online, wherever books are sold, or get a copy at your local bookstore or library.

You can post your thoughts and images on social media using the hashtag #SDGBookClub. Please tag/follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Yes, there are book club meetings taking place all over the world. Check back for a link to the list! (Coming soon)

People can host book club meetings around the world and share their photos via #SDGBookClub. If you would like to organize a public book club meeting, we recommend contacting your local book store, library or school and set it up with them. Please share the planned event on social media using #SDGBookClub and we will add it to the list of events.

You can post feedback on our Facebook page or write an email to:

We sincerely appreciate your interest. However, we are not currently accepting recommendations.

There are actions that you can take beyond just reading the books.

A/ Help your kids to create a poster with a photo or drawing and interesting facts about their favourite character(s) of the book.

B/ Design a reading scavenger hunt for kids using drawings and pictures instead of questions and help them search for things mentioned in the book.

C/ Help your kids write a letter to the local government representative and tell them what you learned in the book and ask them what action(s) they are taking toward a specific Goal.

D/ Organize a parent-child facilitated book discussion for younger kids. Invite your child’s friends and their parents to discuss a book from the reading list at your local library or children’s book store.

E/ Spread the word on social media, using the hashtag #SDGBookClub. We’d love to feature your pictures/videos on our social media.

You can find plenty of Student Resources here. You will find other books aimed at children, as well as the SDG board game. The game aims to help teach children around the world about the Sustainable Development Goals in a child-friendly and straightforward way.

Read to a Child campaign: A global campaign on reading to children to encourage literacy and global citizenship, incorporating the priorities youth and quality education. It is planned to take place in September 2020. More information to come. Please sign up to stay informed.


The International Publishers Association (IPA) is a federation of publishing associations from around the world. The main mandate of the IPA is to promote and defend copyright, support the freedom to publish, promote literacy and reading. IPA is an accredited NGO in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the UN. IPA supports the SDGs and works particularly closely with WIPO and UNESCO.

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) is the leading international body representing the interests of library and information services and their users. It is the global voice of the library and information profession. Founded in 1927 in Edinburgh, Scotland at an international conference, we celebrated our 90th birthday in 2017. We now have more than 1,300 Members in nearly 150 countries around the world. IFLA was registered in the Netherlands in 1971.

The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) is a non-profit organization that represents an international network of people from all over the  world who are committed to bringing books and children together. Today IBBY comprises 79 National Sections worldwide.

The European & International Booksellers Federation (EIBF) represents national booksellers associations in the European Union and beyond. EIBF Members in turn have in membership booksellers of all kinds: brick and mortar bookshops, online bookshops, independents, chains.

The Bologna Children’s Book Fair (BCBF) is the most important international trade fair of the children’s publishing industry. With over 50 years of experience, BCBF has succeeded in bringing together a unique and diverse global audience: the result is the world’s premium copyright business hub when it comes to publishing with an extra core that extends to all multi-media content for children.