BMe Research Grant


Jäger Bettina Szimonetta




BMe Research Grant - 2021


IIIrd Prize


Doctoral School of Business and Management 

BME-GTK, Department of Environmental Economics

Supervisor:  Dr. Buzási Attila

Analysis of urban transformations in the relationship between sustainability and climate adaptation

Introducing the research area

With the tremendous growth of the urban population, measuring and evaluating sustainability at the city level has become crucial, especially considering one of today's most critical issues, climate change. My research focuses on the relationship between urban sustainability and climate adaptation, which, due to its complexity, requires the acquisition of a deeper understanding of the subject. There is no established approach for making urban sustainability universally measurable and evaluable due to the uniqueness and complexity of cities, but continuous monitoring and assessment has become vital to maximize urban well-being and livability.


Brief introduction of the research place

My research work is conducted at the Department of Environmental Economics of BME under the mentoring of Dr. Attila Buzási, associate professor. The Department strives for an interdisciplinary approach in its teaching and research, which is presumed by an understanding of the nature of environmental problems, as well as the exploration of their mechanisms of action and successful management.


History and context of the research

Climate change is currently one of the most urgent economic and social challenges, including phenomena like extreme weather events and their more frequent occurrence, heatwave diseases, floods, and extended periods of drought [1]. Extreme weather is growing more prevalent in cities [2], and considering the approximately 83 percent urbanization expected by 2050 in Europe [3], the topic of climate change and climate adaptation are becoming increasingly important, as cities play an important role not only in climate adaptation [4], but in economic, social, and environmental sustainability issues, as well [5]. The importance of urban sustainability was emphasized by the Sustainable Goal no. 11 (SDG 11) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, released in 2015, meaning the cities should be “inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable” [6]. Among the current articles on the relationship between sustainability and climate adaptation, Buzási and Csete [7] concluded that climate adaptation should be interpreted as a precondition for sustainability, thus, increasing flexibility is not enough to solve all the world's environmental problems. Numerous research on climate change adaptation and sustainability challenges, particularly sectoral elements [8] [9] [10], have been published in scientific journals; nevertheless, too little attention has been dedicated to the exploration of spatial patterns [11].


The research goals, open questions

The main goal of my research is to apply quantitative approaches to examine the relationships between urban sustainability and adaptation, with a focus on disparities between sectors and commonly recurring data gaps.

The research strives to answer whether it is possible to create a set of indicators that can be successfully used to the sustainability study of cities in specific regions, functioning as an appropriate contribution in meeting decision-makers' challenges. Also, I am seeking for an answer to how much flexibility the system requires to reach a suitable level of adaptability that can respond effectively to disruptive influences and recognizes when it is necessary to diverge from a particular condition.



The methods required for the research project's success are unquestionably diverse. Without going into details about any element of the research, the suitable approaches can be classified into main groupings in parallel with the key questions:

·        literature review: a comprehensive and continuous assessment of the primary theoretical basis and related concepts – such as climate adaptation, sustainability, spatial issues, etc. - is necessary and is an essential component of the planned scientific study. I primarily collect journal articles and conference proceedings using the Scopus database and Google Scholar; nevertheless, the examination of strategy papers is also an important pillar of this part to broaden the selection range.

·        Quantitative analysis: mathematical-statistical methods are undoubtedly relevant parts of indicator methods during selecting variables and analysis of interrelations between given indicators. Therefore, regression, correlation and factor analysis and hypothesis analysis will likely be conducted during the research process.

·        GIS analysis: revealing spatiotemporal patterns is a relevant part of the dissemination activity and helps improve the scientific value of a given paper. QGIS illustrates spatial aspects of adaptation and sustainability issues relevant during indicator selection and assessment.



I am currently in the initial stages of my research, and so far, the focus has been on the sustainability assessment of urban areas. My first research work was the sustainability analysis of the districts of Budapest. The key contribution of the study to prepare a district-scale urban sustainability assessment in Budapest, filling a gap in the present literature. The development of a micro-level assessment may reveal more complex relationships between the 3 pillars of sustainability (environment, economy, and society); in addition, hidden, local features may be included in the analysis. The set of indicators becomes more distinctive in an analysis that considers local characteristics, but then the comparison between cities is not possible. In sustainability studies, the weighting of indicators is crucial since it might have an impact on the outcome. In the current study, the Guilford pairwise comparison process was employed, where the indicators relating to the dimensions were compared in pairs, striving for objectivity; however, in the case of indicator-based studies subjectivity cannot be completely disregarded, a problem that already exists in the indicator selection process. Local characteristics are of key importance in the weighting, which generates a sort of order of priority among the indicators. It can be also stated that environmental variables play a minor role in total sustainability performance. Simultaneously, social, and economic results have high influence on the outcomes (Figure 1).


Fig. 1. Regression analysis – modeling sustainability dimensions and overall sustainability relationships


The sustainability study of the Hungarian county seats was the following research, in which the methodology is similar to the study introduced previously; however, the indicator selection process is not unique in this case, given that the indicators were adapted to 19 different cities. The uniqueness of the study stems from a weighting methodology called “strategy-based tailor-made” (SBTM) weighting procedure, in which each sustainability dimension was weighted, not the indicators separately. The essence of the procedure is that we have examined the criteria of the Integrated Settlement Development Strategy (ITS) of the county capitals, the latest version of which defines the urban development visions and goals of the settlements for the period 2014–2020. The medium-term strategic objectives in urban development documents were reviewed considering the proportion of economic, social, and environmental objectives, and eventually assigned to each dimension to determine the exact values of the weights (Figure 2).


Fig. 2. Dimension weights


It can be stated that in terms of urban sustainability values of Hungarian county seats, unequivocal and easily detectable regional patterns cannot be determined; as a result, sustainability performance largely depends on local patterns and does not follow regional norms and similarities. In addition, it may be concluded that environmental factors are more emphasized in terms of the weighted values, where the perceptions of decision-makers were considered.

Expected impact and further research

Assessing urban sustainability by applying indicators is one of the most actively researched areas in the international literature; however, such comprehensive, complex analyzes are clearly lacking in domestic publications, and thus, the existing and planned studies greatly contribute to the expansion of the Hungarian literature on the topic of urban sustainability assessments. The next stage of my research focuses on the temporal and spatial examination of urban climate adaptation capacity, with the goal of exploring regional patterns and processes that are still white spots in the field of Hungarian urban research, using Hungarian cities as a case study.


Publications, references, links

List of corresponding own publications.


1.     Buzási, Attila, & Jäger, B. S. (2020): District-scale assessment of urban sustainability. Sustainable Cities and Society, 62, 102388.


2.     Buzási, Attila, & Jäger, B. S. (2021): Exploratory Analysis of Urban Sustainability by Applying a Strategy-Based Tailor-Made Weighting Method. Sustainability 13(12):1–20. DOI: 10.3390/su13126556


3.     Buzási, A. - Jäger, B. Sz. (2021): Hazai megyeszékhelyek városi fenntarthatóságának statisztikai alapú elemzése (Statistical analysis of urban sustainability in Hungarian county seats). Statisztikai Szemle – accepted (expected release date: August, 2021).


Table of links.

Department of Environmental Economics


List of references




X. M. Bai, R. J. Dawson, D. Ürge-Vorsatz, G. C. Delgado, A. S. Barau, S. Dhakal, D. Dodman, L. Leonardsen, V. Masson-Delmotte, D. C. Roberts and S. Schultz, Six research priorities for cities and climate change, Nature 555(7694), DOI: 10.1038/d41586-018-02409-z, 2018.


U. Nations, "," 2018. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 29 06 2021].


D. Ürge-Vorsatz, C. Rosenzweig, R. J. Dawson, R. Sanchez Rodriguez, X. Bai, A. S. Barau, K. C. Seto and S. Dhakal, "Locking in positive climate responses in cities.," Nature Climate Change 8(3), DOI: 10.1038/s41558-018-0100-6, 2018.


A. Buzási and B. S. Jäger, "District-scale assessment of urban sustainability," Sustainable Cities and Society 62, 102388., 2020.


United Nations, "," 2015. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 28 06 2021].


A. Buzási és M. Csete, „Fenntartható fejlődés és klímaváltozás - globális összefüggések lokális értelmezése (Sustainable development and climate change - local interpretation of a global context),” Magyar tudomány: [a Magyar Tudományos Akadémia Értesítője] 179(9):1349–1358. DOI: 10.1556/2065.179.2018.9.8, 2018.


A. L. Balogun, D. Marks, R. Sharma, H. Shekhar, C. Balmes, D. Maheng, ... and P. Salehi, "Assessing the Potentials of Digitalization as a Tool for Climate Change Adaptation and Sustainable Development in Urban Centres," Sustainable Cities and Society 53 (November 2019) 101888., 2020.


F. Pietrapertosa, M. Salvia, S. De Gregorio Hurtado, V. D'Alonzo, J. M. Church, D. Geneletti, ... and D. Reckien, "Urban climate change mitigation and adaptation planning: Are Italian cities ready?," Cities, 91(June), 93–105., 2019.


D. Reckien, M. Salvia, O. Heidrich, J. M. Church, F. Pietrapertosa, S. De Gregorio Gurtado, ... and Dawson R., "How are cities planning to respond to climate change? Assessment of local climate plans from 885 cities in the EU-28.," Journal of Cleaner Production, 191, 207–219., 2018.


D. C. Major, M. Lehmann and J. Fitton, "Linking the management of climate change adaptation in small coastal towns and cities to the Sustainable Development Goals.," Ocean and Coastal Management, 163(May), 205–208., 2018.