Amsterdam wants to be a sustainable and inclusive city. However, like many cities world-wide, this city faces a number of environmental, social and economic issues. Many of these urban challenges are intertwined. For example, issues related to our climate and biodiversity have major consequences for social and economic aspects. Therefore, these challenges cannot be seen separately from each other.

Adding to the complexity: there are numerous ambitious national and European targets to be met. Hence, choices have to be made which challenges to focus on.

“We need to develop a more integral and broader way of monitoring and measuring impact. Namely, innovative solutions should contribute to sustainability, equity and accessibility. AMS Institute and the City are joining forces to map ambitions, indicators and projects. To measure progress and identify where the greatest potential for improvement lies.”

Kenneth Heijns

Managing Director

Tackling urban challenges requires an integrated approach

There are already several monitors designed for and applied to the city. For example, the state of the art with regard to climate and greenhouse gas emissions is monitored in the Roadmap to climate neutrality, the Amsterdam poverty monitor keeps track of poverty and debt among residents, and the economic forecast of the metropolitan region of Amsterdam focuses on development of the labor market, economic growth and commuting.

However, until now, there was no overarching monitor in which information on various ambitions, values and ideals comes together and issues can be monitored in relation to each other.

“Both within the City and at AMS Institute a sense of urgency has arisen to work on a ‘new economy’ focused on ‘what really matters’ and on measuring and mapping this. This new economy and the associated sustainable development require an integrated way of working, rather than working in separate sectors or directorates.”

Lieke Dreijerink

Program developer Ideal(s) monitor

Ideal(s) Monitor: measuring impact based on the ideals of the city

Now, in close collaboration with the City of Amsterdam, AMS Institute officially launched the research program: Ideal(s) Monitor. In the ideal(s) monitor program we want to relate different, existing monitors in one overall framework.

As part of the Ideal(s) Monitor, we monitor the city’s various social and sustainability policies and goals. We measure the impact of implemented innovations – among others related to energy, climate adaptation, mobility, and the circular economy. Furthermore, in the program we work on the development of a value and ideals framework that can be used to weigh the choices that have to be made for the city.

“We strive to develop a framework that can be used to make better and more transparent higher order, strategic decisions for the city, and that can also be used to measure the impact of concrete projects on the ideals of the city.”

Joppe van Driel

Program Developer Circularity in Urban Regions

Testing the framework to 2 cases

The Ideal(s) Monitor is a collaboration with the City of Amsterdam and various partners from the AMA. The first phase of the program runs until the end of 2023, but the intention is to make it a long-term program.

In the first year of the program, we start by making an inventory and accordingly do a network analysis on the different existing monitors. This way we will gain insight in what indicators and data are used and shared in different monitors.

In addition, we begin with organizing a series of workshops in which we discuss with civil servants and AMS Research Fellows and Principal Investigators the ideals and values of the city and the accompanying indicators. Furthermore, we will collect new data points by means of innovative, experimental ways of data collection both quantitative and qualitative. In collaboration with researchers from WUR, TU Delft, MIT, and other knowledge institutions from the city such as HvA, UvA and VU.

Based on the inventory and network analysis and workshops, we will develop a first version of the Ideal(s) monitor framework. The framework will be applied to two cases and tested if it is useable to measure the impact of projects on ideals.

Also involved in the development of this program:

  • Arnout Sabbe, Program Developer Circularity, AMS Institute
  • Fabio Tejedor, PhD researcher Monitoring Broader Welfare, WUR & AMS Institute
  • Karel van den Berghe, Associate Professor Spatial Planning and Urban Development, TU Delft
  • Felipe Bucci Ancapi, PhD researcher Circular Economy, TU Delft
  • Lukas Beuster, Research Fellow, AMS Institute

Principal Investigators