Analysing sustainable-progress typologies in European metropolitan regions

Mercè Farré, Vittorio Galletto, Joan Trullén, Joan Marull*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Metropolitan regions are global economic units generated by networking between and the expansion and coalescence of centres of innovation, production, and consumption. They are a novel functional unit of analysis that has emerged as metropolitan areas not only expand, grow, and become denser, but also spread and merge with other metropolises. It remains to be seen which is the best way of measuring sustainable progress in urban networks at this new organizational scale. We propose here a statistical method derived from Eurostat databases and NASA satellite images for characterizing sustainable-progress typologies in European metropolitan regions. The proposed procedure amalgamates current knowledge of how social, economic, ecological, and network-structure dimensions contribute collectively to measures of urban sustainable progress. Two main findings stand out: the inverse relationships between polycentrism and emissions, and between monocentrism and innovation. The main implication is that it is vital to redirect urban and territorial policies towards greater sustainable progress not only at metropolitan but also at regional levels. According to the typologies assessed in this study, the experience of the best-positioned European metropolitan regions shows that this type of redirection is possible. Thus, a move towards economic models that place greater importance on the economies of agglomeration based on polycentric urban structures, in which knowledge is a strategic productive element, will in the future become motor of change in sustainable progress.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104347
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • Beyond GDP
  • Factorial analysis
  • Inclusive growth
  • Polycentrism
  • Urban networks


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