Category: Cities and local authorities, Policies and measures

Oxford Sustainability Index

Aether was appointed to develop a Sustainability Index for Oxford, comparing the city’s performance with others.

Aether was appointed to develop a Sustainability Index for Oxford, comparing the city’s performance with other urban areas on a range of factors such as: Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency, Transport, Water, Waste, Air Quality, Green Space, Biodiversity, Flood Risk Mitigation and Land Quality. The analysis featured quantitative as well as qualitative analysis to benchmark and evaluate Oxford’s performance and identify cases of best practice in other cities. This analysis, originally undertaken in 2016, was updated in 2019 to reflect the latest available data. 

The Challenge

The key driver for this project was to establish a transparent, robust framework by which Oxford (and other cities in the future) could assess itself against key environmental criteria. The outputs will inform the City Council on areas of relatively good and poor performance, so that it can prioritise future resources and projects and work towards a cleaner, greener Oxford. The Sustainability Index utilises national, regional and local datasets to compile best and worst performance across a series of environmental indicators, which when combined provide qualitative and quantitative context as to how Oxford was performing in each category.

The Solution

Using our knowledge of national and regional datasets, as well as expertise in compiling and analysing complex datasets, we designed a comprehensive framework making use of existing and reliable information. For each quantitative aspect we identified a scale from best to worst performing urban areas and then mapped Oxford City on that scale. For qualitative aspects, we utilised a recognised policy analysis protocol which allowed us to evaluate non-quantitative environmental indicators. By weighting each of the indicators then combining them, overall scores across 10 environmental categories were developed. The results were summarised in a brief report, along with supplementary information on Oxford's performance and best practice case studies from other cities across the UK.

The published 2016 report is available to download here.  The Sustainability Index for Oxford (2016 results) is displayed below.

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Kathryn Hampshire

Senior Consultant

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Clare Bayley, Defra

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