Social sustainability

Over the next decade, our aim is to build a strong, resilient and equitable city for everyone.


Why this is important to us

Social sustainability is a framework that puts people at the heart of cities. It recognises that our personal wellbeing impacts on, and is impacted by, our collective wellbeing.

Cities that make equality and social justice central to their growth are stronger and more resilient, creating opportunities for everyone to thrive. Building a strong, inclusive society is a shared responsibility for governments, business and the wider community.

How we can achieve this

Our social sustainability policy identifies strengths we can build on and the challenges we should address. It articulates our role in strengthening the wellbeing and resilience of our community.

The plan also sets out a range of activities the we'll carry out with our stakeholders and the wider community. Over the next decade, our aim is to build a strong, resilient, equitable and sustainable city for everyone.

A City for All responds to the United Nations sustainable development goals and is based on 10 foundation principles. The action plan sets out 4 strategic directions, which provide a roadmap for a socially just and resilient Sydney:

  • Inclusive city: Social justice and opportunity
  • Connected city: Diverse, cohesive, communities
  • Liveable city: Quality places and spaces
  • Engaged city: Good governance and active participation

Aligning ourselves with the United Nations sustainable development goals

In September 2015, Australia was one of 193 countries to commit to the United Nations sustainable development goals. The 17 global goals provide a global road map for all countries to work toward a better world for current and future generations.

The goals aim to end poverty in developing countries and also set an agenda to tackle climate change, inequality, sustainable business and innovation. Economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection are 3 core elements considered a priority.

The goals have 169 targets to measure global progress. While not all of the targets will be relevant to every country, Australia will focus on the targets relevant to our country.

Implementing the goals is not the role of governments alone – business, civil society and others all have a role.

Sustainable Sydney 2030–2050 Continuing the Vision is aligned with the UN’s sustainable development goals. Our local action plan makes a positive contribution to the sustainable development of our city and community in line with Australia’s global commitment.

Our key programs and initiatives

Australia’s global position

There is much to do if we are to reach the targets by 2030. In 2016, a year after the global goals were adopted, Australia was ranked 20th among all countries.

These 6 goals were identified as needing more critical action in Australia:

  • 2. Zero hunger
  • 7. Affordable and clean energy
  • 13. Climate action
  • 14. Life below water
  • 15. Life on land
  • 17. Partnerships for the goals.

These 3 goals were identified where good progress has already been made:

  • 3. Good health and wellbeing
  • 6. Clean water and sanitation
  • 11. Sustainable cities and communities.

For the remaining goals Australia was considered to require a moderate effort to improve.