SDGs: Indicator 11.3.1 | Land Portal

Ratio of land consumption rate to population growth rate


Last updated on 19 January 2022

This indicator is currently classified as Tier II. The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).

Unit of measureThe unitless indicator is measured as a ratio of the consumption rate (%) and population growth rate (%).


Why is this indicator important?

Urban areas are expected to grow considerably in the coming years. Many cities around the world have vast urban expansion plans. Urban sprawl can increase CO2 emissions and pose a threat to people and the planet. High rates of urban densification without adequate provision of infrastructure also results in diverse urban challenges. Urban expansion needs to be done efficiently and inclusively to ensure sustainable land use and management.

This indicator allows decision makers to track and manage urban growth and therefore allows them to promote land use efficiency in this context. In sum, it ensures that the SDGs adequately address the wider dimensions of space and land and provides a foundation for achieving other sustainable development goals, including those pertaining to health, food security, energy and climate change.


How is the indicator measured and monitored?

Several sources of information are required for the indicator computation, including multi-temporal satellite imagery through remote sensing and geospatial analysis processes as well as population data from censuses and surveys. Data for developed urban land is usually available from the urban planning units of cities and, where lacking, can be generated from openly and freely available satellite imagery. 

Within the defined city/ urban area boundaries, the changes in built up areas over time are used to estimate the land consumption rate. The use of this measure accounts for aspects such as “newly developed”, "partially developed” and/or “redeveloped” land.  According to the metadata document, defining the city or urban area poses a challenge since quite often land consumption through urbanization processes happen outside official municipality boundaries. The interpretation of the results is limited in cases with negative or zero growth. In addition, multiple city aggregations may lead to wrong interpretations.


By Anne Hennings, peer-reviewed by Dennis Mwaniki, Spatial Data Expert at UN-Habitat’s Data and Analytics Unit.


Official indicator data

The indicator is measured as a ratio of the consumption and population growth rate. The land consumption rate indicates at which rate urbanized land or land occupied by a city/urban area changes during a period of time (usually one year), expressed as a percentage of the land occupied by the city/urban area at the start of that time.

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Other related indicators on Land Portal

In addition to the official indicator data, the following indicators provide information on urban expansion and related land use planning questions. 

Land use planning guides expansion in other cities measured on a scale from A - which stands for good practices - to D - reflecting weak practices.

Measurement unit: 
Index (A; D)

Land use planning guides expansion in the largest city measured on a scale from A - which stands for good practices - to D - reflecting weak practices.

Measurement unit: 
Index (A; D)

Population growth (annual %) is the exponential rate of growth of midyear population from year t-1 to t, expressed as a percentage.

Measurement unit: 
Percentage (%)

Process for urban expansion clear, public, respects rights measured on a scale from A - which stands for good practices - to D - reflecting weak practices.

Measurement unit: 
Index (A; D)

Urban population refers to the share (%) of people living in Urban areas as defined by national statistical offices. It is calculated as the ratio between Rural Population and Total Population.

Measurement unit: 
Percentage (%)

Land and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities
Target 11.3: By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries

Indicator details

Tier 2

The indicator is conceptually clear, has an internationally established methodology and standards are available, but data is not regularly produced by countries.

Custodian agency: 

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