A Comparative Analysis of Global Datasets and Initiatives for Urban Health and Sustainability
Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering, University College London, Central House, 14 Upper Woburn Place, London WC1H 0NN, UK
Department of Social and Environmental Health Research, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, 15-17 Tavistock Place, London WC1H 9SH, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Membership of the SHUE Consortium is provided in the Acknowledgments.
Sustainability 2018, 10(10), 3636; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10103636
Received: 30 August 2018 / Revised: 1 October 2018 / Accepted: 9 October 2018 / Published: 11 October 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Assessing The New Urban Agenda)
Globally, urban populations are growing rapidly, and in most cases their demands for resources are beyond current limits of sustainability. Cities are therefore critical for achieving national and international sustainability objectives, such as greenhouse gas reduction. Improving sustainability may also provide opportunities for urban population health co-benefits by reducing unhealthy exposures and behaviours. However, there is currently sparse empirical evidence on the degree to which city characteristics are associated with variations in health-related exposures, behaviours and sustainability. This paper examines the feasibility of aggregating empirical data relating to sustainability and health for global cities. An initial scoping review of existing English-language datasets and networks is performed. Resulting datasets are analysed for data types, collection method, and the distribution of contributing cities across climates, population sizes, and wealth. The review indicates datasets are populated using inconsistent methodologies and metrics and have poor overlap of cities between them. Data and organisations tend to be biased towards larger and wealthier cities, and concentrated in Europe and North America. Therefore, despite vast amounts of available data, limitations of reliability, representativeness, and disparate sources mean researchers are faced with significant obstacles when aggregating data to analyse the sustainability and health of globally representative samples of cities.