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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Testimonial

Don't just take our word for it...

“I must congratulate each of you for your professional and tireless efforts. Let me point out that this has been the 'neatest' in-country review expert review team I have coordinated, and it has been a real pleasure.”

UNFCCC Secretariat

“Saint Lucia embraces the professional approach with which this project was undertaken by Aether, particularly their ability to develop mentorship relations with local government experts. This provides a basis for ensuring that the pool of local experts remain engaged and recognized over successive processes.”

Annette Rattigan-Leo, Chief Sustainable Development and Environment Officer

“The support provided by Aether for this project was especially remarkable considering the situation of the COVID-19 pandemic. The tools and methods used in order to engage local stakeholders really added value to the capacity building of the national team.”

Shanna Emmanuel, Saint Lucia BUR Project Coordinator

“Chris was excellent to work with and always very pro active in making suggestions, taking work forward and applying his considerable technical knowledge in effective ways.”

Robert Vaughan, Defra Air Quality Team

“Aether delivered training workshops and generated learning materials for our SSN members, providing technical content in a manageable and comprehendible format. We particularly benefitted from their extensive knowledge and ability to interpret the needs of our members into the training materials.”

Jennifer Anderson, Sustainable Scotland Network

“Both the face-to-face training and the online version have been of high quality, with dynamic methods and a practical orientation that have allowed students to reach a solid knowledge base. The products have been delivered within the stipulated deadlines with an excellent quality and the team has always shown willingness to make adjustments according to the requirements of CONAF. We are very satisfied with the work. ”

Javier Cano Martín, Professional Unit for Climate Change and Environmental Services, CONAF (National Forestry Corporation), Chile

“A heartfelt thank you to all the Aether team for this very comprehensive review – this is certainly turning out to be one of the most beneficial capacity building projects I have ever been involved in.”

Saviour Vassallo, Senior Environment Protection Officer, Malta Resources Authority

“The team at Aether works very professionally and communicates very well which makes working with them a pleasure. Outputs are delivered on time to high quality. The team brings the rigour of technical knowledge and expertise and finds innovative ways of communicating complex messages. I would be happy to recommend the Aether team to organisations working on analysing and presenting emissions information in the public domain.”

Fiona Glover, States of Jersey

“Professional team and very collaborative communication. Effective result in terms of suggestions for improvement in the quality of the inventory and proposals on how to streamline specific topics.”

Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research

“It has been a pleasure to work with Chris Dore and Richard Claxton from Aether: they did their job in a very professional and timely manner. The workshop was organized and carried out in a cooperative spirit; the information provided to the workshop participants was complete and clear.”

Alina Novikova, UN/ECE Secretariat

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