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Building indicators for sustainability

As Europe's cities expand rapidly, there is a need to assess this growth and pinpoint ways to make it more sustainable. This requires a new set of harmonised indicators on sustainability, enabling the EU to anticipate and manage such expansion.

Climate Change and Environment

Developing urban areas in a sustainable way has become vital in light of world population growth and drain on the planet's resources. The EU-funded project 'Trends and indicators for monitoring the EU thematic strategy on sustainable development of urban environment' (Tissue) looked at developing a more harmonised set of indicators to measure sustainable development. The project worked to determine progress in achieving sustainable development and examined the accuracy of indicators in identifying trends. By developing common indicators and urban audit schemes, the project enabled stakeholders to build an overall view of sustainable urban development on an EU scale. It established recommendations regarding the usability and usefulness of different indicators, their effectiveness in yielding accurate comparisons and their validity on different levels (local, regional, national). After in-depth research of trends, concerns and issues related to sustainable urban development, Tissue devised a new common set of sustainable urban indicators. It defined each indicator clearly, including measurement, policy relevance and feasibility. While the new indicators were designed to be used across Europe, the project recommended a gradual shift to the new indicators based on short- and long-term needs of the various regions. The indicators to be implemented in the long-term require more sophisticated technological innovation and cultural considerations, calling for more time to develop the required infrastructure. Tissue also developed recommendations for future work such as strengthening the role of socioeconomic and cultural indicators, as well as developing common methods for surveys and assessments. The project conducted workshops to further its aims and raise public awareness on developing sustainability targets for European cities. Project efforts will contribute towards finding ways to make cities more sustainable and filling gaps to encourage sustainability.

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