New global system to measure liveable, sustainable quotient of cities, say researchers


A new series published in The Lancet Global Health provides the elementary blocks for a global standard to calculate the sustainability of cities world over, and to assess policy to make cities liveable and more sustainable.

A co-led series from the University of Melbourne studies city planning policies and urban design and transport features of 25 cities across Asia, Europe, Australasia, Africa, and Central and South America.

The assessment of these cities found them to aspire to become more sustainable, with many cities lacking measurable policy objectives to help attain those goals.

Meanwhile, the initiative of Global Healthy and Sustainable City-Indicators Collaboration undertaken by more than 80 researchers in 25 cities across 19 countries led to development of tools that can be used by any city anywhere to put a standard and observe progress towards healthy and sustainable living.

To undertake this, the team employed standardized methods to study policy settings and real experience of people living in cities, using indicators such as nearness to food and public transport, walkability, and city density.

The indicators could assist cities to strengthen city planning policies, said lead author of the paper. In addition, the indicators could also help to address inequities to access urban design and transport features that support health and sustainability.

Importantly, climate change and global challenges such as COVID-19 highlight the urgent need for more liveable and sustainable cities. The research explains what is required for urban transformation.

The initiative involved calling for1000-cities challenge to initiate a global citizen science program to gather open data, and formulate city planning indicators. This was aimed at improving knowledge base and inform decision-making to focus on most data scanty areas.

Edward Turner

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