CityBench - ESPON CityBench for benchmarking European Urban Zones

Thematic scope

Cities of all sizes can play a crucial role as creative, efficient and environmentally sound engines of smart, sustainable and inclusive territorial development. But there are threats and barriers to this in the form of demographic challenges, economic challenges, social disparities/polarisation and urban sprawl.

EU Member States and the European Commission are progressing urban policy at the European level. In 2014-2020, the urban agenda likely to be more prominent than in previous Structural Fund programmes. This process will require evidence about the urban reality, a task where several initiatives are taken, and where the joining of forces and cooperation can provide added value.

Against, a backdrop of increased emphasis on the urban component but also the anticipated increased use of financial instruments in territorial cohesion policy, this ESPON project will deliver the CityBench webtool. This webtool will help policymakers, practitioners and public and private investors to put economic, social and environmental sustainability of cities at the core of decisions. This webtool will allow them to benchmark their cities against other similar cities, around issues such as demographic challenges, economic challenges, social disparities/polarisation, urban sprawl and greenhouse gas emissions. This benchmarking webtool will create opportunities for the forming of innovative learning networks among cities. It will also provide a first indication of the suitability of financial engineering instruments in place-based policymaking for addressing risks and opportunities.

Please read more about the main research areas and main results envisaged on the next page.

Lead Partner

Geodan Holding (NL)

Detailed information on the contracted project team can be found under Transnational Project Groups.

Budget: € 198 874.00

Project’s lifetime: December 2012 – February 2014

Delivery of Reports

Inception Report: 28 February 2013

Draft Final Report and Webtool: 30 November 2013

Final Report and Webtool: 28 February 2014


Reports will be published once they are approved by the ESPON Monitoring Committee

More information

Please contact the Project Expert at the ESPON Coordination Unit:

Sandra DI BIAGGIO, e-mail: [email protected]

Main results envisaged

  • The conceptualisation of the webtool, including dialogue with public investors and data providers and the selection/development of feasible urban indicators.
  • The design, testing and establishment of a ready-to-use practical webtool to benchmark and monitor European cities.
  • Instructional and explanatory text integrated into the webtool so that end-users understand both the function of the webtool but also its main strengths and weaknesses.
  • A “CityBench Demonstration Report” to illustrate what the resultant webtool can do in relation to the project’s main objective and target group needs.

Main research area

CityBench will make the ESPON knowledge base more available and useful in practice to practitioners, policymakers and public and private investors concerned with managing investment in cities. This ‘quickscan’ webtool will highlight both the risks and opportunities for cities, the potential aspects for investment and allow benchmarking of cities as well as comparisons using typologies. This will make it particularly useful for:

  • Policymakers and practitioners (both at the Urban but also at the Regional level) concerned with attracting and managing the development in cities.
  • Public investors, including the European Investment Bank in view of the potential relevance of the project for JESSICA (Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas) and its traditional lending operations in sustainable urban projects.
  • Private investors seeking to get a quick overview of European urban regions.



Final Report

  • Acrobat Document | 4.70MB

Draft Final Report

  • Acrobat Document | 3.27MB

Intermediate deliverable 2

  • Acrobat Document | 1.70MB

Intermediate deliverable 2 - prototype

  • Acrobat Document | 1.29MB

Intermediate deliverable 1

  • Acrobat Document | 1.40MB

Inception Report

  • Acrobat Document | 1.80MB

Inception Report-Annex

  • Acrobat Document | 705KB

Project specifications

  • Acrobat Document | 76KB