An article by the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country has seen methodological weaknesses in rankings, benchmarking and indexes on urban sustainability.
UPV/EHU researchers have looked at the quality and good methodological practices employed and published in 21 rankings, indexes and similar tools used for classifying and monitoring urban sustainability. They concluded that these tools neglect complex causalities in their design and lack methodological transparency in relation to data gathering, weighting and aggregation process; they also tend to be biased and ignore badly ranked cities and reinforce existing stereotypes.
“The last two decades have seen significant growth in the spread of tools to classify and measure urban performance (rankings, indexes, etc.) across both the public and private institutions that use them, in response to different types of pressures encouraging uniformity. Naturally, all these tools are useful for guiding and assessing the policies implemented by local authorities in various fields of action, and are particularly prolific in the area of sustainability. Yet there is a lack of knowledge about the actual methodological base underpinning them and which is supposed to legitimize their use,” explained Lucía Sáez-Vegas, PhD holder in the UPV/EHU’s Department of Financial Economics II.
"With the aim of analysing and assessing quality and good practices in urban measuring and monitoring, and while devoting special attention to the methodological aspects, we took hundreds of measuring tools and selected a set of 21 similar rankings, indexes and tools designed to rank and monitor urban sustainability (understood in a very broad sense) so that we could study them in depth and thus adapt and apply an analysis methodology tested in another field, that of university rankings,” added Dr Sáez.
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