William Fisher, Jeanette Melin, & Charlotta Möller: Metrology for climate-neutral cities

March 1, 2022

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

2:00 - 4:00 PM (PST) in Berkeley Way West room 1212 and Zoom


This report is a stand-alone publication of the metrological observations and analyses originally associated with the Vinnova project ”Verktyg för integration av hållbarhetsmått i finansiell analys”, diarienummer 2020-04363, written by RISE Research Institutes of Sweden. The work has been carried out in close collaboration with the Strategic Innovation Program, Viable Cities.

The report addresses the benefits of taking a metrological perspective, applying probabilistic models of measurement, to ensure that investments in cities are in line with the Paris agreement, the European Green Deal and Sweden’s Climate Policy Framework.

We propose in this report decisive and constructive responses to critical appraisals of the Agenda 2030, the Sustainable Development Goals, and the EU taxonomy. The lack of transparency and accountability plaguing these vitally important efforts can be rectified by means of systematic implementations of the art and science of measurement modelling informed by metrological principles.

The aforementioned documents’ vague and all-inclusive language fails to assign responsibilities or aid in goal achievement, but can be replaced with systems of measurements that are effectively and efficiently,meaningfully and usefully, integrated with management objectives. When measurements are well designed, managing goals and objectives becomes seamlessly integrated with measurement. Measuring instruments should map the domain of interest, allowing users to locate where they are relative to where they were, where they want to go, and what to do next. But for this to happen, the intention to measure in this way must be acted on. Then, incomparable ordinal ratings and scores must be replaced with quality- assured quantity values. And disconnected reporting systems must be coordinated and aligned.

Most importantly, taking the trouble to create fluidly manageable measures makes it possible to identify and harness human-powered energy sources for driving sustainable change, for ramping up efforts to the global scale that must be achieved if we are to succeed in transforming our systems. Entrepreneurs and innovators need scientifically rigorous, meaningful, useful, and convenient tools if they are to succeed in imagining, designing, and deploying effective responses to the pressing challenges we face.

Our recommendations are formulated in direct response to criticisms that have been directed at the Agenda 2030 and the EU Taxonomy concerning the transparency, comparability, and accountability of the proposed goals for sustainable development. Neither the goals themselves nor the urgency of the need to address them are at issue. The concern is rather with the means by which those goals may be achieved, and the effectiveness of those means.

The solutions we propose in this document are complex but manageable—just as the problems we face are also complex but manageable. We have no intention of providing a panacea, or a one-size-fits-all solution. There is nothing automatic or easy about what needs to be done. This report is only a first step. We provide it in the hope of provoking more of those concerned to take a fresh look at what might be possible. We tap readily available, longstanding, well-established, proven ideas not previously brought together for close consideration. But far from expecting or even hoping that our recommendations will be taken up and followed to the letter, we instead fervently pray for playful experimentation and constructive debate.

Our goal, perhaps more than anything else, is to encourage a broader scope for the imagination of possible solutions. Imaginations today seem overly bound within the constraints of assumptions that actually—and perversely—contribute to perpetuating the problems we face. We will count our efforts successful if we manage to shake some minds free from those constraints. In this spirit, we look forward to engaging soon in productive collaborations with any and all who are interested.

About the speakers:

William P. Fisher, Jr., Ph.D. received his doctorate from the University of Chicago, where he was mentored by Benjamin D. Wright and supported by a Spencer Foundation Dissertation Research Fellowship. Dr. Fisher is recognized for contributions to measurement theory and practice that span the full range from the philosophical to the applied in fields as diverse as special education, mindfulness practice, clinical chemistry, and survey research. His articles have appeared in Frontiers of Psychology, Journal of Applied Measurement, Theory & Psychology, the International Journal of Educational Research, the International Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, Human Studies, the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Neuropsychology, Advances in Nursing Science, the Journal of Nursing Measurement, and others.

Jeanette is a researcher at RISE Metrology. She works for and does research that the same underlying metrological principles from physical sciences should be applied also for human-based measures, i.e. categorically based measures. Those methods are sparsely used, which gives unreliable decision bases. Thus, an appraisal is needed to provide quality assured measures for information, comparisons and decision-making. In turn, this can be used to identify and prioritize the most effective development activities and innovations.

Charlotta has just taken a new position as a strategic business developer with the Anthesis Group in Stockholm, after almost seven years as Director of Sustainable Society Initiatives at the Research Institute of Sweden. She earned degrees in business and law at the Lund University School of Economics and Management, and has over 30 years experience in sustainable circular economy business models and systems transitions. Under her leadership, RISE advanced several projects toward the realization of the United Nations Agenda 2030 and the associated Sustainable Development Goals.