Topic 3: Multi-city strategies for circular urban economy monitoring and management

Challenge Description

Access to robust and reliable data is critical for driving the transition to a circular economy within urban areas. However, simply having data available is not enough to catalyse the necessary changes in how materials circulate throughout cities. The true challenge lies in maximising the advantages of this data, leveraging this, ensuring its quality and accessibility, and to enhance awareness, understanding, decision-making, and actionable initiatives at the level of local urban governance. This requires interconnected integration of scientific insights, policy frameworks, and community engagement. Thus, the primary focus of this topic is on devising robust strategies for monitoring and gathering data on circular economy practices specifically tailored to the dynamics of urban environments and their large variety of resource flows.



The topic prioritises multi-city strategies for circularity through localised monitoring and data collection efforts. It is futher concerned with how comprehensive circular economy monitoring frameworks be developed to benefit local urban governance. By fostering collaboration among cities and stakeholders, project proposals should focus on addressing challenges related to data availability, reliability, tracking over time and benchmarking against other cities. They should refrain from limiting data collection to quantitative metrics alone and preferably also incorporate qualitative approaches to understand cultural and emotional effects on implementation. The topic emphasises local anchoring, stakeholder engagement, and Sustainable Development Goal alignment to underscore the use of holistic approaches to achieve meaningful impact in circular urban economy initiatives.


Project proposals submitted under this topic should address one or several of the following questions:

  • What data harvesting strategies should be employed to collect trackable resource flow data from reliable sources across different cities?


  • How can local actors and stakeholders be integrated into the implementation process to facilitate the deployment of monitoring devices and management tools, fostering citizen science participation?What methods should be utilised to map entire resource flow chains (including production, retail, consumption, waste, reverse logistics, refurbishment, reuse, etc.) and assess environmental impacts in the built environment?


  • In what ways can the Sustainable Development Goals framework be utilised for local level monitoring within project proposals?


  • What are the most effective monitoring and evaluation frameworks for assessing the performance and impact of circular economy initiatives at the city level, and how can these frameworks be standardised or adapted to accommodate diverse urban contexts?


  • What role do digital technologies, such as data analytics, blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT), and digitally derived data/smart data, play in facilitating multi-city monitoring and management of circular urban economy activities? How can cities leverage these technologies to enhance transparency, traceability, and resource efficiency in urban circular supply chains, ensuring integration of digitally derived insights for decision-making across multiple urban centers?


  • How do cultural and behavioral factors influence the adoption of circular practices in different urban contexts, and what strategies can cities employ to promote public awareness, engagement and participation in urban circular economy initiatives?


Expected Outputs and Outcomes

Rather than providing isolated technical solutions, projects are expected to address this topic in a systemic way. Project outcomes should be impact-oriented and process-oriented, and therefore as concrete and user-centred as possible. Expected outputs and outcomes include, but are not limited to:


  • Contributing to enhanced trust and collaboration among stakeholders through transparent sharing of resource flow related data and to ensure long-term commitment to circular economy monitoring beyond project funding cycles.


  • Resulting in improved decision-making based on accessible and understandable data in the urban administrations involved in the project consortium and facilitating cross-city comparisons and best practice sharing.


  • Producing dissemination strategies and measurements for expanding impact, reflected in budgetary considerations as well as acknowledgments of the intricate steps involved in transitioning from data sharing to impactful scale-up, emphasising the need for dedicated resources and funding to bridge these gaps effectively.