The strengths and weaknesses of inclusive city rankings

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City ranking is considered an effective instrument to enhance the specific image of cities and to define sustainable development strategies. But city ranking is also criticized for being biased. Run Zhao from Erasmus University Rotterdam has recently published a research paper called "Will the true inclusive city rise? Mapping the strengths and weaknesses of the city ranking systems" in Elsevier. Run: “There seems to be a lack of assessment of inclusive cities in developing countries and regions.”

The pitfall of inclusive city rankings

Recently, the number of inclusive city rankings has been rising, with growing investments in inclusive city projects and initiatives. The inclusive city rankings are likely not only to share the similar potential of enhancing learning and understanding, but also the pitfalls of being used as a competitive approach. Run: “Inclusive city rankings form a snapshot of the level of inclusiveness in cities around the world, but they can ignore the causation of city development. There seems to be a lack of assessment of inclusive cities in developing countries and regions.”

Strengths and weaknesses

In Run’s paper, nine inclusive city rankings are scrutinized and compared. They analyze and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the inclusive city rankings and provide suggestions for inclusive city evaluation and ranking methodologies, which will contribute to inclusive local governance for academics, practitioners, and public policymakers. Run: “In our paper, we suggest, for example, that the city samples should be meaningfully compared because it is obvious that there is a wide gap between the assessment of inclusive cities in developing countries and inclusive cities in high-income countries.”

Inclusive city branding

As part of Run's PhD research about inclusive city branding, this paper lays a good foundation for her subsequent research, especially in understanding and measuring comprehensive, inclusive cities. Her research is also closely related to the broader theme of Inclusive & Prosperous Cities. In the future, she will further explore the value of inclusive city branding as a toolbox of policies, institutions, and programs that promote the inclusive prosperity of today's vital cities and citizens.

Read the full article here.

Run Zhao is a PhD candidate of the Erasmus Initiative collaboration programme Inclusive & Prosperous Cities

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