Measuring Social Sustainability: Best Practice from Urban Renewal in the EU
The focus on ‘sustainable communities’ within the urban renewal agenda in the EU is key to understanding how the ‘social dimension’ of investment projects must be considered alongside economic and environmental dimensions within a Triple Bottom Line Approach (incorporating the economic, social and environmental dimensions) to sustainability. Measuring ‘social sustainability’ is fraught with difficulty, but ensuring urban renewal projects incorporate the right balance of social capital and appropriate mix of tenures, income and age groups, allied with supporting infrastructure, is vital if the visions of Europe’s Cohesion Policy and the Bristol Accord are to be realised.
This new research, based at the Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development (OISD), Oxford Brookes University in the UK, is led by Professor Tim Dixon (Dept. of Real Estate and Construction), and will use survey work, interviews and workshops to work closely with the EIB, and understand better how to measure and integrate social sustainability within urban renewal projects across the EU.
The research will focus on the following issues within an EU context, examining a range of urban renewal projects and related infrastructure covering commercial and residential development:
- Definitions and measures of ‘social sustainability’: a review and critique.
- Implementation - to what extent and in what ways is social sustainability incorporated within urban renewal projects within the EU? What is the optimum balance between commercial and residential development (or in residential projects, tenure and income mix) in order to provide the widest social benefits?
- Best practice techniques - how can we learn from the way in which social sustainability has been incorporated in projects? How do lenders and investors approach social sustainability for urban renewal projects?
- New tools - can improved tools be developed to assess social sustainability and also enhance its consideration in decision processes and project / programme outcomes? Can these tools also be used in projects based within transition (new member) states? How do the new tools fit the existing institutional and planning frameworks and what are the implications for investment lending?
EIB and the EIBURS programme
The task of the European Investment Bank, the European Union's financing institution, is to contribute towards the integration, balanced development and economic and social cohesion of the Member Countries. To this end, it raises on the markets substantial volumes of funds which it directs on the most favourable terms towards financing capital projects according with the objectives of the Union. Outside the Union the EIB implements the financial components of agreements concluded under European development aid and cooperation policies.
The EIB University Research Sponsorship Programme (EIBURS) is part of the EIB-Universities Research Action, through which the EIB aims to foster its institutional relations with universities. EIBURS provides grants to university research centres working on research topics and themes of major interest to the Bank. EIB bursaries, of up to EUR 100 000 per year for a period of three years, are awarded through a competitive process to interested university departments or research centres associated with universities in the EU, Accession or Acceding Countries, with recognised expertise in areas of direct interest to the Bank. The scholarship seeks to enable the chosen centres to expand their activities in these areas.
Funded by the European Investment Bank
EIBURS Working Paper Series:
2008/02: Traditional and Emerging Prospects in Social Sustainability - Andrea Colantonio
2008/01 Urban Regeneration and Partnerships: Approaches from the EU - Juliet Carpenter and Mateu Turró
2007/02 Socially Responsible Investment (SRI), Responsible Property Investment (RPI) and Urban Regeneration in the UK and Europe: Partnership Models and Social Impact Assessment Tim Dixon with Andrea Colantonio and David Shiers
Related Publications and Other Outputs
2009 EIB Final Report - Social Sustainability and Urban Regeneration Andrea Colantonio and Tim Dixon
EIB-University Action: Annual Meeting December 10, 2009 at the EIB-headquarters in Luxembourg
'Colantonio (2009) Social Sustainability: Linking research to policy and practice', paper presented at Sustainable Development. A Challenge for European Research Conference, European Commission Directorate General for Research, Brussels, 26-28 May 2009
Defra Strategy Unit: input on defining 'social impacts' (Dr Andrea Colantonio and Prof Tim Dixon)
Urban social sustainability: North - South perspectives (Dr Andrea Colantonio and Prof Tim Dixon)
Urban Regeneration and Impact Assessment for Social Sustainability (John Glasson and Graham Wood), Presentation at IAIA08 - Perth, WA (PDF)
The research team
Professor Tim Dixon Project Leader
Dr Andrea Colantonio Project Manager and Lead Researcher
Other research staff:
Dr Juliet Carpenter Department of Planning
David Shiers Department of Real Estate & Construction
Dr Graham Wood Department of Planning
Professor John Glasson - Department of Planning
Community Scorecard Ben Kochan, PlanningResource, 21 May 2010