CONVENING: Science-Policy Dialogue on Metrics for Equity and Livability in Sustainable Cities

October 26, 2018

The Sustainable Healthy Cities (SHC) Network hosted a workshop October 16-17, 2018 with twenty-five city and policy partners to discuss concepts and metrics for livability and equity in sustainable cities. The workshop was titled “How Do We Define Equity and Livability for Sustainable Cities? A Joint Science-Policy Dialogue on Concepts and Metrics.”

Participants working in small group sessions at the science-policy dialogue discussing concepts of livability and equity in sustainable cities.
Small group working sessions from the science-policy dialogue. Photo Credit: Sustainable Healthy Cities Network


Faculty from the Askew School of Public Administration and Policy at Florida State University and the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota jointly hosted the workshop in Tallahassee, FL. Representatives from city and policy organizations across the United States joined the dialogue alongside SHC researchers to consider key questions, including:

  • How do we define and measure equity and livability in cities in the context of sustainable social and infrastructural systems?
  • How do we understand equity and livability’s conceptual relationships with environment, health, and wellbeing?
  • What is the science of these interactions? Are there new data sets and methods that can help cities track these outcomes?

Highlights from the two day event included working sessions to consider definitions for intermediate pathways and final outcomes relevant to considerations of livability and equity in cities, discussions of current trends in data collection and management for tracking equity outcomes including a consideration of the need for fine-scale data and potential citizen science contributions, and future planning for a potential equity-focused measurement pilot in select partner cities.

A group photo with dialogue participants.
Group photo with dialogue participants. Photo Credit: Portia Campos, Florida State University 


The conversations were informed by the diverse operational backgrounds of workshop participants spanning environmental protection, local food policy, public health, resilience planning, transportation and mobility services, electric utility operations, and more.

Represented organizations included the cities of Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Denver, Fort Collins, Minneapolis, New York City, St. Paul, Tallahassee, and Urbana. Additionally, Detroit Future City, Leon County (FL), HealthPartners, and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) were also represented.


The workshop was supported with funds from the U.S. National Science Foundation, award No. 1444745, project title “Integrated Urban Infrastructure Solutions for Environmentally Sustainable, Healthy, and Livable Cities.”