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Sustainability tools and targets for the urban thematic strategy

Final Report Summary - STATUS (Sustainability tools and targets for the urban thematic strategy)

The objectives of the STATUS project were divided into the management objective, and the six research objectives.

Management objective
Objective 1: To effectively manage and coordinate the project to ensure achievement of the six research objectives and achievement of all stated deliverables

Research objectives
Objective 1: To identify where targets are appropriate and desirable to stimulate action, and to evaluate existing targets and indicator sets at all levels of government: through a review of the 'Sixth environment action programme', of the themes and aims of the urban thematic strategy, and of relevant targets and indicator sets for urban sustainable development at the European, national and local levels.
Objective 2: To review and evaluate the existing tools for assessing progress with urban sustainability: through an investigation of the tools currently being applied in evaluating progress towards urban sustainable development.
Objective 3: To assess the feasibility and applicability of current targets and indicator sets in the arena of urban sustainable development. Based upon the investigations undertaken in research objectives 1 and 2, to consider the potential compatibility of existing targets and indicator sets for assessing urban sustainable development across Europe.
Objective 4: To involve local authorities in refining targets for application within an online tool designed to be appropriate to end-users and to the European Commission (EC), in the assessment of progress towards urban sustainable development.
Objective 5: To develop an online tool as a device for local authorities to set relevant local targets for urban sustainability and to develop guidance for local authorities on selecting and setting targets designed to be simple and effective for individual local authorities to evaluate their own progress in meeting relevant sustainability targets.
Objective 6: To set out a road map for the EC for the implementation of the online tool for local authorities as a mechanism to monitor progress with urban sustainable development.

The STATUS project involved the combination of different methods, in order to achieve its objectives. The methods were to:
- review and evaluation of policy programmes, initiatives, and target / indicator sets at European, national, and local level across all European countries (secondary data analysis);
- the technical development of a web-based tool;
- involving local authority practitioners through participation in workshops and in piloting the tool;
- active input of the EC, local authority networks and individual local authorities from across Europe, with particular consideration given to involvement of the new Member States.

The work plan consisted of 8 Work packages (WP), to be completed over a 12 month period initially; however, this was extended to 15 months on request to the EC. Each WP was headed by one or more leading partners and all other partners contributed to the WPs with agreement at each project team meeting on specific sub-tasks allocated to them. In addition, all partners were requested to attend project team meetings, to take part in the local authority workshops, and to the advisory panel meetings. The management of the project was organised as one WP, lasting for the duration of the project (WP1). The remaining WPs had the following objectives:

WP 2 objectives:
1. To review the current aims of the 'Sixth environment action programme', and specifically the themes of the urban thematic strategy.
2.To review and evaluate the existing targets and indicator sets for monitoring urban sustainable development.
3.To prepare a preliminary set of indicative targets for consideration by local authority practitioners at the first workshop.
4. To evaluate the compatibility of existing tools and targets for assessing progress with urban sustainable development.

WP 3 objectives:
1. To organise and run the first of 2 local authority workshops, involving 20 local authorities from across Europe.
2. To involve these 20 local authorities in revising the preliminary set of indicative targets, on the basis of their expertise in this area and local policy contexts, and in contributing to the development of guidance on selecting and setting targets.

WP 4 objectives:
1. Evaluate the findings of local authority workshop 1 and provide feedback report.
2. Design the framework for developing the online tool and for the guidance.

WP 5 objectives
To develop an online tool, ready for piloting and evaluation by selected local authorities.

WP 6 objectives:
To develop guidance for local authorities on selecting and setting locally relevant targets for urban sustainable development.

WP 7 objectives:
1. To pilot the online tool in four local authorities, in order to receive feedback on its usability and content.
2. To conduct a second local authority workshop for participants to try out the tool, and to contribute to the road map on promotion and take-up of the tool in the future.

WP 8 objectives:
1. Feedback from workshop 2 to local authorities.
2. Present the operational online tool to the EC.
3.Produce the final version of the guidance and present this to the EC.
4. Present the road map for future application of the tool to the EC.

The project achieved all its management and research objectives. It is appropriate to note the following achievements:
1. Comprehensive review at European and national level of policy reports, programmes, initiatives, projects relevant to the development of local-level sustainability indicators and indicative targets.
2. Building upon the outputs of previous projects in this area, in particular European common indicators, and the TISSUE project.
3. Extensive involvement of policymakers and practitioners at local level, and also at national level, through the two local authority workshops, the advisory panel of experts, testing of the tool online.
4. Translation of the tool and guidance into six further languages in addition to English, and checking of the finished versions in all languages by experts in local government and sustainability issues.
5. Involvement of the EC, campaign networks, and other interested parties from governments across Europe, including new Member States (for example, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia) in the development of the tool, and in promotion of use of the tool by local authorities.