Session 4

The Global Urban Metabolism Database
Joao Meirelles1, Paul Hoekman3, Aristide Athanassiadis2, Yves Bettignies2, Gabriela Fernandez4, Franziska Meinherz1, Claudia Binder1
1Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Switzerland; 2Université Libre de Bruxelles; 3Metabolism of Cities; 4Politecnico di Milano

Urban metabolism studies monitor resource use and pollution emissions flows entering and exiting cities, respectively. They generally widely vary in terms of scope, methodology, choice of indicators and research aims. Their results are published in a variety of formats such as scientific papers, administrative reports and technical publications. This variety of sources makes it difficult to obtain a general overview of the metabolism of cities across the world and highly complicates comparative analyses. This shortcoming hinders the creation of universal urban sustainability policies that could highly impact the SDGs 6, 7, 11, 12 and 13. The creation of an online and open source global urban metabolism database in which a great number of urban metabolism studies are collected and analysed makes the examination of patterns and trends in urban resource use, waste generation and pollution, possible. To set up this global urban metabolism database, relevant scientific publications were identified by manual selection as well as automated scraping search engine results. The metabolic flow indicators were then extracted and the results were processed. This process resulted in a growing list of metabolic flow indicators (such as energy, material and water use, GHG emissions, etc.) and a database of raw data from different urban metabolism studies. Each data point was indexed with the original publication, the geographic area (e. g. the city) and the year of study in order to enhance comparability and traceability. To validate the database, authors of the publications were e-mailed to review the numbers, as well as to add additional data that were missed in the initial effort. To increase the use of the results for a great range of stakeholders, all the numbers were made publicly available and presented in several different formats including machine-readable online data tables, graphs, as well as separate spreadsheets and customizable reports.