ETC/ULS Report 03/2018: Similarities and diversity of European cities. A typology tool to support urban sustainability

01 Mar 2018

Mirko Gregor, Manuel Löhnertz, Christoph Schröder, Ece Aksoy, Jaume Fons, Cristina Garzillo, Allison Wildman, Stefan Kuhn, Gundula Prokop, Marie Cugny-Seguin

Today, 52 % of the global population lives in cities, another 33 % in towns and suburbs, a trend that is going to continue. On a European level, around 72 % of the population is already living in cities and towns, also with the expectation to increase. In this context, the main challenge ahead is to find a way to accommodate a greater number of people while at the same time reducing impacts upon and from the environment and improving the quality of life of cities’ residents.

This report makes an attempt to characterise 385 European cities with respect to their main environmental and socio-economic conditions. To this end, we identified and selected 41 parameters from different thematic domains (urban dimension and land use, urban form and distribution, climate, socio-economics, waste, water, air quality, transport and mobility, as well as governance) and calculated clusters of cities based on those parameters. The resulting typology should help to analyse the characteristics of cities in similar situations (i.e. cities from the same group or cluster) because there are simply too many cities in Europe.

The report is intended as ‘food for thought’ and information source for policy- and decision-makers at national, sub-national and municipal levels, and for researchers and interested citizens alike and is divided into four chapters.

While chapter 1 provides the context and scope of the report, chapter 2 highlights the key factors of urban sustainability and their interdependences. Chapter 3, the core of the report, presents the city typology (including a short description of the approach) and analyses the resulting clusters and their characteristics. This analysis provides a broad view on cities, their situation and basic functions, their individual performance and main activities, their threats and their most important changes. Finally, chapter 4 provides conclusions and a short discussion