Half of humanity – 3.5 billion people – lives in cities today
By 2030, almost 60% of the world’s population will live in urban areas
95% 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
Cities occupy 3% of the Earth’s land, but account for 60 to 80% of energy consumption and 75% of carbon emissions
Rapid urbanization is exerting pressure on fresh water supplies, sewage, the living environment, and public health
But high density of cities can bring efficiency gains and tech innovation while reducing resource and energy consumption


By 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums
SC:SH:HO:1C: Informal Settlements
Dimension: Society and Culture
Sub-Dimension: Safety, Housing and Social Inclusion
Type: Core Structural

Percentage of city inhabitants living in slums, informal settlements or inadequate housing

The term “informal settlements” has been used to refer to unregulated, illegal and unauthorized construction, arising from the conditions and regulations in different countries, including “spontaneous”, “unplanned”, “unauthorized”, “illegal” or “squatter” settlements. The term “informal” may also be used for settlements of refugees or vulnerable people, overcrowded and dilapidated housing in cities, or slums. The United Nations has used the term “informal settlements” to refer to:
  1. residential areas where a group of housing units has been built on land to which the occupants have no legal claim, or which they occupy illegally;
  2. unplanned settlements where housing is not in compliance with current planning and building regulations (unauthorized housing). (UNECE)
Informal, slum or inadequate housing are an indicator of precarious circumstances that some citizens may be living under. They are the result of inadequate responses to the demand for housing, infrastructure and community services, which makes the authorities unable to facilitate the legalization process.

The city shall report households that lack any one of the following five elements:
  1. Access to basic water (access to sufficient amount of water for family use, at an affordable price, available to household members without being subject to extreme effort)
  2. Access to basic sanitation (access to an excreta disposal system, either in the form of a private toilet or a public toilet shared with a reasonable number of people)
  3. Security of tenure (evidence of documentation to prove secure tenure status or de facto or perceived protection from evictions)
  4. Durability of housing (permanent and adequate structure in non-hazardous location)
  5. Sufficient living area (not more than two people sharing the same room)

A declining trend and lower values are considered positive.

UNECE. Formalizing the Informal Challenges and Opportunities of Informal Settlements in South-East Europe. Retrieved from

Calculate as:
Numerator: Number of people living in slums, informal settlements or inadequate housing Denominator: Total city inhabitants
Multiply by 100

Unit: Percentage

Data Sources:
Data can be collected from municipal planning and housing departments.
Household surveys and citizen/community-run surveys, such as those developed by Slum Dwellers’ International and the Cities Alliance.

SC:SH:HO:2A: Expenditure on Housing
By 2030, 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
By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries
Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage
By 2030, significantly reduce the number of deaths and the number of people affected and substantially decrease the direct economic losses relative to global gross domestic product caused by disasters, including water-related disasters, with a focus on protecting the poor and people in vulnerable situations
By 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management
By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities
Support positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, peri-urban and rural areas by strengthening national and regional development planning
By 2020, substantially increase the number of cities and human settlements adopting and implementing integrated policies and plans towards inclusion, resource efficiency, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, resilience to disasters, and develop and implement, in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, holistic disaster risk management at all levels
Support least developed countries, including through financial and technical assistance, in building sustainable and resilient buildings utilizing local materials

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