Our work on Goal 11

Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

As one of the world’s leading research institutions and the UK’s first university to have social responsibility as a core goal, we’re tackling the SDGs in four inter-related ways: through our research, learning and students, public engagement activity and operations.

Here’s a selection of our work addressing Goal 11.


African Cities Research Consortium

Our African Cities Research Consortium (ACRC), funded by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) as part of UK Aid, will tackle complex problems in some of Africa’s fastest growing urban areas.

Over six years, our research will generate new evidence to catalyse integrated, sustainable, inclusive approaches to urban development in partnership with frontline humanitarian responders, effective policy influencers, local government networks and deeply rooted civil society groups.

Mobilising Urban Living Labs to create sustainable infrastructure

Our research on Urban Living Labs has transformed sustainable infrastructure provision locally, and enhanced capacity in East Africa, South America and the Philippines.

Locally we’ve shaped £26m of infrastructure investment by Manchester City Council as well as replacing 20,000km of delivery van trips with e-cargo bikes. Globally, we’ve delivered walkability action plans and improved road safety for 5.8m citizens across East Africa, South America and the Philippines.


Learning and students

Sustainable Cities MOOC

Our academics have contributed to a free massive open online course (MOOC) developed with Lund University, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability.

83,000 students around the world have used this to explore key trends of urbanisation and sustainability and apply this in advancing sustainability in cities around the world.

University Living Lab

Our University Living Lab applies the energy and expertise of students to real-world sustainability challenges by developing student projects with external organisations linked to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.


Public engagement

In Place of War project

In Place of War (IPOW) is a global spin-out charity from research in our School of Music and Drama.

IPOW works with grassroots organisations in refugee camps, war-affected villages, towns under curfew, cities under occupation, and refugee communities, using creativity in places of conflict as a proven tool for positive change.

IPOW enables communities and grassroots change-makers in music, theatre and across the arts to transform a culture of violence and suffering into hope, opportunity and freedom.

Ageing-friendly culture

Our Manchester Museum is working with regional and national partners to host a pioneering Creative Ageing Development Agency (CADA) – a national organisation advocating for and supporting the culture sector to be more age friendly.



Social responsibility partnerships

Examples of our civic partnerships include:

We also prioritise global partnerships to advance our work towards the SDGs. These include:

Biodiversity on campus

The Firs is located on the University’s Fallowfield campus and houses a suite of facilities for environmental research, monitoring and engagement.

Our UNESCO World Heritage site, Jodrell Bank, is another area rich in biodiversity. 

To help promote biodiversity on campus, we’ve developed:

  • an online, interactive campus Tree Trail highlighting 50 of the 1,500 trees across Oxford Road Campus, North Campus and Whitworth Park.
  • a tree plan requiring the planting of two trees for every one removed by our campus developments.
  • UMAPIT (University of Manchester Animal Positions and Information Tracker) – a bespoke app to allows the public to record sightings of urban wildlife species.

We’ve also transformed a former road into Brunswick Park – a pocket park to enhance green space and wellbeing on campus.