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Final Report Summary - TISSUE (Trends and indicators for monitoring the EU thematic strategy on sustainable development of urban environment)

The main objective of the TISSUE project was to define the set-up needed for a harmonised set of indicators to monitor the sustainable development of urban environment.

The overall goal of the project was the following:
1) to analyse demand and define appropriate trends (in consultation with the European Commission) which should be measured to properly determine progress toward sustainable development of the urban environment at local level;
2) to carry out comparative research on existing sets of indicators to determine whether they:
i) are able to provide the information needed to monitor developments at local level on the trends identified in the first step;
ii) can be used to assess trends at the EU level;
iii) their implementation is viable (good balance between the indicators' ability to measure the trends and the costs of data collection and elaboration);
3) to define the set-up needed for a harmonised set or subset of indicators and for effectively utilising the information from existing indicators to build an adequate picture at EU level and identify gaps to be filled. Make recommendations for further research;
4) to collect indicators and structure the indicators into a database. The indicators considered were urban environment indicators in use or being developed at EU level (e.g. European common indicators, urban audit), national level in the 15 EU Member States and Candidate Countries, and at regional and / or local level in use across EU.

The objective of the project was to make recommendations about the usability and usefulness of different sets of indicators. This was assessed from the following points of view:
(1) how these indicators serve for monitoring the sustainable progress and the effectiveness of undertaken actions at different levels (neighbourhood, city, local-regional, state);
(2) what is the methodological level of indicators enabling the rightful comparisons;
(3) what is the need of common indicators versus specific indicators which consider area-specific premises;
(4) what are the needs for further development to serve for the stated needs of the European Commission. When formulating recommendations, TISSUE also took into account that the acceptance and implementation readiness of the cities are among the main bottle-necks and problems for the common usage of urban environment indicators.

TISSUE developed a proposal for a set of sustainable urban indicators. The development of indicators was based on the analyses of sustainable urban development related concerns and trends; and the assessment of existing sets of indicators on European, national and local level.

The main outcomes of the project were as follows:
- summary of the background and context of sustainability indicators of urban environments;
- sustainable urban trends and concerns;
- assessment of existing sets of indicators to monitor sustainable development of urban environments; % - the common set of indicators selected by the TISSUE project;
- recommendations.

Each indicator is described in terms of definition and measurement, policy relevance and consensus and feasibility: % - definition and measurement, showing the suggested definition, metrics of the indicator, data from which it is compiled and compilation methodology;
- policy relevance of the indicator, in relation to urban sustainable development and in particular to the thematic strategy of urban environment;
- consensus and feasibility, which illustrate to what extent there is a general consensus on the adoption of the indicator, as it emerges in particular from being adopted in practice by several cities, and how far the concrete application of the indicator to the generality of European cities seems feasible.

The indicators chosen are recommended for a 'harmonised' application throughout Europe. However, a gradual approach is suggested, by defining two categories according to the relevance of the indicator for monitoring purposes in the short-term - CORE 1 indicators - or in the medium-long term - CORE 2 indicators -, when more advanced indicators could become feasible (thanks to technological, organisational or cultural innovations) and useful for a more sophisticated monitoring of urban environment. In practice, CORE 1 indicators are relevant for the TISSUE monitoring purpose and would be readily feasible, with a reasonable effort of the institutions concerned with the collection of data and compilation of the indicators. CORE 2 indicators are equally relevant for the TISSUE, and even in some case more advanced indicators, but they are still not easily applicable due to shortcomings in data availability or other practical aspects.

The recommendations of the project for the future work are as follows:
1. Development of a more comprehensive approach by:
- deepening the role and importance of socio-economic and cultural indicators;
- responding to the needs of different tasks of local authorities;
- responding to the needs of target setting and responsive way of working. % 2. Development of the feasibility of the TISSUE CORE 2 indicators by:
- improving the availability of the necessary information;
- developing common methods for surveys, measurements and assessments. % 3. Improving the comparability of the measured results and proceeding towards a weighted set of TISSUE indicators.
4. Development of appropriate tools and methods for monitoring and target setting.
5. Development of urban sustainability indicators for the needs of risk management.

Working in the TISSUE workshops was introduced and catalysed with help of the presentations by the TISSUE partners. After the project the TISSUE partners will aim at raising public awareness in the basic level by introducing the project results in relevant conferences and workshops that will be arranged outside the project both in national as well as European and international scale. The work of the project is continued by the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) project STATUS. STATUS has used the TISSUE indicators as the basis of the work in the development of sustainability targets for European cities.