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Can the SDEWES Index Stimulate Policy Learning for More Sustainable Energy, Water and Environment Systems in Cities?

In line with the aim of promoting a multidisciplinary approach to sustainability, the SDEWES Index benchmarks cities across aspects of energy, water, and environment systems to stimulate policy learning, action, and cooperation for sustainable development. The SDEWES Index has 7 dimensions and 35 main indicators spanning multiple data sources and inputs. Since 2014, new cities are added at each SDEWES Conference and the 11th SDEWES Conference marks the application of the SDEWES Index to 100 cities around the world. In total, the samples include cities from Southeast Europe, Mediterranean port cities, and cities with the most number of authors based on the SDEWES Book of Abstracts.

This panel will provide perspectives on the role of the SDEWES Index in supporting policy learning for more sustainable energy, water, and environment systems in cities and the relation of such efforts to the SDGs. The panel will further represent a motivation of the researchers of the SDEWES community to improve the performance of cities based on leading research results and studies on scaling-up best practices. Next, perspectives from local decision-makers will be integrated to provide insight on the user side and an outlook for the SDEWES Index to support policy learning networks for sustainability.

Overall, this panel is directed towards stimulating an interactive discussion on the SDEWES Index and addressing key questions on future opportunities to allow cities to benefit from the benchmarking tool while planning for more sustainable energy, water and environment systems. Scenarios for cities and a search algorithm to match cities based on dimension performance will also be opened to discussion.

Panel speakers:

Prof. Jiří Jaromír Klemeš
Brno University of Technology - VUT Brno, Brno, Czech Republic
SDEWES Indexes and the Environment Performance Strategy Map
show abstract

SDEWES introduced <> 7 dimensions containing min-maxed values of 7 main indicators, which are then aggregated into an Index value. These include energy consumption in buildings and transport, energy saving measures, renewable energy potential, CO2 emissions, water and air quality, urban form, education rate, and sustainability policy, including R&D and innovation, among others. Collectively, the SDEWES Index scans across aspects that are essential for the sustainable development of energy, water and environment systems in cities.


However, those indexes should be discussed more widely, verified and presented to the wide audience to get new ideas and recognition. One of the options, which should be considered, is the approach using the Environment Performance Map, which has been approached by a number of authors and organisations as <> or “The Environmental Performance Strategy Map: an integrated LCA approach to support the strategic decision-making process” including not only indexes based of the LCA, but also strategy towards the more environmentally friendly solutions. It has been based on the work published by De Benedetto and Klemeš (2009), which has attracted more than 200 citations so far.


The purpose of this contribution is to facilitate the discussion and perhaps to find some new approaches to this topic.



L De Benedetto, J Klemeš, 2009, The Environmental Performance Strategy Map: an integrated LCA approach to support the strategic decision-making process, Journal of Cleaner Production 17 (10), 900-906

Prof. Natasa Markovska
Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Skopje, Macedonia
SDEWES Index in Light of the Sustainable Development Goals
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Sustainable development goals (SDGs) are part of a breakthrough global agreement called 2030 Agenda, adopted at the United Nations in September 2015, with a purpose to transform the world. The 2030 Agenda marks the first time in human history that the nations of the world have come to agreement on a comprehensive vision, with clear goals and targets, for the development of our civilization on planet Earth. It includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals, supported by 169 specific targets and recommendations on how nations should proceed in the implementation of the goals. One of the key recommendations in “Transforming Our World” basically boils down to this: Besides Governments, involve cities, communities, businesses, science and education, individuals… Everyone has a role to play in making the SDGs a reality. The main goal of this contribution is to highlight the inter-linkages of the SDEWES index dimensions with the SDGs, justifying thus its capacity to provide benchmarking support and guidance to the cities to set their polices and measures toward implementation of the SDGs.

Prof. Neven Duić
University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia
Smart Cities as Part of Smart Energy Systems – Efficiency, Renewables and Demand Response
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Abstract: Transition to decarbonised energy systems is becoming more attractive with fall of investment costs of renewables and volatile prices and political insecurity of fossil fuels. Solar photovoltaic has now reached grid parity in most of the world, making integrated solar cheapest electricity at the retail level. More efficient buildings are coming, but due to long life, it will take long time to make them all energy neutral. The renewable energy resources are bountiful, especially wind and solar, while integrating them into current energy systems is proving to be a challenge. The limit of cheap and easy integration for wind is 20% of yearly electricity generation, while a combined wind and solar may reach 30%. Going any further asks for implementation of really free energy markets (involving day ahead, intraday and various reserve and ancillary services markets), demand response, coupling of wholesale and retail energy prices, and it involves integration between electricity, heat, water and transport systems. Cities, as the most vibrant and energy dense consumers, will serve as part of the solution, as a place where it is easiest to integrate the power, heating, cooling, water and transport systems, creating efficiencies, and using cheapest storages, like heat storage and water storage, or utilising storages paid by other systems, like car batteries. The cheapest and simplest way of increasing further the penetration of renewables is integrating power and heating/cooling systems through the use of district heating and cooling (which may be centrally controlled and may have significant heat storage capacity), since power to heat technologies are excellent for demand response. In countries with low heat demand water supply system may be used to increase the penetration of renewables, by using water at higher potential energy as storage media. Electrification of transport allows not only for huge increase of energy efficiency, but also, electric cars due to low daily use may be excellent for demand response and even for storage potential, through vehicle to grid technology. Smart cities, powered by variable renewables, integrated or utility scale, will use the buildings and transport as flexible demand response to the variability of the supply. 

The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK), Ankara, Turkey
SDEWES Index at 100 Cities – Perspectives on Development, Applications, and Future Opportunities
show abstract

Cities are learning organizations that are in a search for innovative tools and solutions, including those that can be used to advance towards more sustainable systems. Benchmarking cities across multiple dimensions can broaden the scope and outlook of cities in understanding areas that may require more urgent policy attention and/or opportunities to use strengths in one dimension to improve performances in others. This panel discussion will focus on the SDEWES Index that was developed to address a gap in providing cities with well-rounded guidance on energy, water, and environment systems. In this way, the SDEWES Index aims to support cities in being living laboratories for resource saving technologies, systems, and concepts. Currently, the 11th SDEWES Conference marks the application of the SDEWES Index to a total of 100 cities around the world since its beginning at the 1st Southeast Europe SDEWES Conference in Ohrid. The city sample also includes Lisbon as the venue of the conference and other cities from Portugal that implement Sustainable Energy Action Plans with targets of reducing CO2 emissions by at least 20% by the year 2020. Key issues for the future include the use of the SDEWES Index within city-to-city policy learning networks. For example, the cities that are matched based on dimension performances can explore similar challenges jointly or those with differing performances can reach out to provide or exchange best practices to other cities. Scenarios can further indicate paths that are available for cities to improve overall rankings. As scientists and researchers from over 50 countries around the world, SDEWES participants will have the opportunity to partake in an interactive discussion on the SDEWES Index and discuss ways that the tool could be used to support effective approaches for sustainability.          


SDEWES Index <>.

Kılkış, Ş., Sustainable development of energy, water and environment systems index for Southeast European cities, Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol. 130, pp. 222-234, 2016.

Kılkış, Ş., Composite index for benchmarking local energy systems of Mediterranean port cities, Energy, Vol. 92 No. 3, pp. 622-638, 2015.

Kılkış, Ş., Sustainable Development of Energy, Water and Environment Systems (SDEWES) Index for policy learning in cities, International Journal on Innovation and Sustainable Development (Article in Press), 2016.


Benchmarking the performance of cities across energy, water and environment systems
related metrics presents an opportunity to trigger policy learning, action, and cooperation to bring cities closer to sustainable development.