CDP, Cities, Cities and sustainability reporting, Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), ISO 37120, Sustainability

Resilient Cities Conference 2018 #2

It was my pleasure to make this presentation on how the City of Bloomington, Indiana tracks its progress on resilience and sustainability during the session entitled Measuring urban resilience and evaluating impacts at the Resilient Cities Conference 2018.

Measuring urban resilience and evaluating impacts

I represented the City of Bloomington at the Resilient Cities Conference 2018 in Bonn, Germany in my role as Chair of the City of Bloomington Commission on Sustainability.  The commission has as part of its mission to measure, monitor, and report on the community’s progress toward sustainability.

See my slide presentation and comments below.

 

This slide represents a list of reporting frameworks that all cities could use to report on their sustainability progress.

The city prepared its first Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Sustainability Report in 2012. You can access Bloomington’s full GRI report here.

Bloomington was involved in the STAR Community Index Leading Indicators Program.

You can read about how Bloomington reduced its GHG emissions in its latest GHG inventory here.

As the City of Bloomington considers its long range plan for land use and development, it completed its 2018 Comprehensive Plan. The plan is a set of goals, policies, maps, illustrations, and implementation strategies that state how the City of Bloomington should address development: physically, socially, and economically.

The city is engaged currently in preparing a Sustainability Action Plan, which will address transportation, energy, food, and the built environment.

In an earlier blog post, I discussed how ISO 37120 Sustainable development of communities — Indicators for city services and quality of life would be useful to a city.

As we look at our next steps in reporting, there are numerous things to do to monitor the city’s progress. The metrics set out in the Comprehensive Plan and the Sustainability Action Plan will provide information about how well the city is adhering to its plans. In addition, other standardized reporting frameworks can be used to monitor Bloomington’s progress in its sustainable development.

To help understand all of our metrics, I recommend that a summary of all the reports be prepared to get a picture of what the city is doing. A summary report should be written each year to determine our strengths, weaknesses, and progress. This report could be presented to the City Council and Mayor as part of a formal annual reporting by the Commission on Sustainability.

 

 

Chicago - River Walk and State Street bridge
Cities, Cities and sustainability reporting, ISO 37120, Sustainability Reporting

ISO 37120 – Cities’ Sustainability Reporting Option

Chicago - River Walk and State Street bridge
Photo by Michael J. White

There are numerous ways that cities can monitor their sustainability progress. One example is ISO 37120-2014 Sustainable development of communities — Indicators for city services and quality of life. As the first ISO standard for city indicators, it covers the three pillars of sustainability – economic, environmental, and social. The standard provides 100 indicators that include 17 areas, which are economy, education, energy, environment, finance, fire and emergency, governance, health, recreation, safety, shelter, solid waste, telecommunications, transportation, urban planning, wastewater, and water and sanitation. Cities of any size or location can choose which indicators to report.

What is in it for cities?

By using this set of standardized metrics, cities will see numerous benefits. Benchmarking performance and setting targets are a fundamental place to start. If you want to lower greenhouse gas emissions, you need to know what your emissions are. In addition, better management of city resources can be achieved with sustainability metrics. For example, keeping track of wastewater management initiatives can enable cities to manage more efficiently and effectively both financial and environmental resources. Urban planning can be facilitated by use of these indicators. These metrics can provide information about transportation, recreation, safety, and health to inform a city’s decisions about housing policies. In addition, comparisons with other reporting cities are possible on the World Council on City Data (WCCD) website.

An added benefit is the ability to obtain WCCD Certification. Certification levels depend on the number of indicators reported.

If you are involved with a city, this is worth looking into.

As a member of the Bloomington Commission on Sustainability, I will be working on applying this standard to the City of Bloomington, Indiana in the next several months. Over time, I will report about the process.