D) Alternative Metrics

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The ambition

This governance ambition is about promoting (new) metrics to guide urban development and policies towards well being and sustainability (rather than classic economic metrics like GDP).

Relation to previous work in UrbanA

This governance ambition relates to the following approaches:

  • Beyond GDP indicators. This approach refers to alternative economic indicators that do not place economic growth as the most important variable in assessing a country's progress. Beyond GDP indicators are inclusive of other aspects of development, such as, environmental and social.
  • Financial practices and instruments. This approach tackles unsustainability and injustice in cities from a financing perspective. From this perspective the distribution of resources and the way our economic system is organized is the starting point to think of just and sustainable cities.

It addresses the following driver of injustice:

  • Unquestioned Neoliberal growth and austerity urbanism. This driver refers to processes of privatization, commercialization, budget cuts and state withdrawal from various sectors and how they can undermine urban sustainability, guided by an ideology of unfettered economic growth which often aligns with austerity policies.

How could it work?

The ways in which we measure things influences problem framings and consequently our responses. If alliances could be forged to promote metrics of well-being and justice and to background or phase out metrics of growth and competitiveness, different measures and expenditures would become imaginable and justifiable than in the current paradigm of competition.

See examples

Check out the GREENLULUS project developing a "Fair Urban Greening Index".


Do we need alternative metrics to guide urban policy development, which could focus on well-beeing and the affordability of housing rather than on GDP growth, employment and investments?