Skip main navigation

Identifying local measures

Data collection screen with results
© RMIT Europe and EIT Climate-KIC, EIT Food and EIT Urban Mobility

Much of the work with assessment is in analysing what really needs to be measured.

A longitudinal, city-specific assessment

Ethical cities involve a combination of processes, outcomes, structures, agency and alignments that are addressed over time.

A central challenge in assessing progress towards the ethical city is identifying what to measure and which way. Measurement needs to be meaningful to the city, contributing to change, and be feasible as a longitudinal approach. As discussed in Step 1.7, assessment should engage with underlying structures rather than just symptoms.

Assessment should be city-specific. It should represent a baseline for future comparisons and local discussions about the city, and provide an indication of the issues and resourcing that might be prioritised.

This means assessment cannot be reduced to an ‘off-the-shelf solution.’ Rather, cities need to understand how to position assessment so that it is done differently from identifying ‘normative goals, endpoints and outputs.’

Re-positioning measurement

In Step 2.2 we defined the key characteristics of the ethical city as: inclusive; addressing core concerns; relational; demonstrating a common purpose; well governed; and evolving through dialogue.

While each city will develop its own unique measures, the following domain areas provide essential topics for all ethical cities:

  • Principles: Assessment must articulate the ethical principles that define the city and expand them through quantitative and qualitative measures.
  • Local perspectives: The aims, emphases and expected progress should be agreed locally at the city, neighbourhood or precinct level.
  • Sustainability indicators: We are inextricably linked to, and reliant on, our local and global environments. We live within environmental limits and have to choose local environmental sustainability indicators that reflect this reality.
  • Equity and prioritising vulnerability: We must care for people and focus on inclusion and supporting the most vulnerable communities through measures of socio-economic distributional justice, including social indicators such as the Gini coefficient of income and the poverty ratio developed by OECD. Specific issues may include income, housing, education, transport, poverty, gender equity, health, and safety.
  • Governance: Governance accountability is essential to identify obviously corrupt practices. For example, Transparency International promotes an initiative to strengthen local government integrity.

Your Task

Using your city, list several groups that should be involved in co-designing and selecting the key sustainability indicators to be adopted in the city sustainability plan.

Give a short rationale for each.

Ensure you include diverse community perspectives and interests.

Share your ideas in the comment section below.

© RMIT Europe and EIT Climate-KIC, EIT Food and EIT Urban Mobility
This article is from the free online

Creating Ethical and Sustainable Cities at the Local Level

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now