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Which cities in Poland manage water best? A new Water City Index has been created!

02 of November '23

It's hard to name a more important chemical compound than water - its management has determined the development of civilization for centuries, and its shortage, leaving aside the European perspective, can even today lead to armed conflicts. The ways of managing water in Poland have been studied for years as part of the Water City Index.

As part of our #ReportThursday series, we present documents, reports and guides on architecture, cities and local government that are certainly worth publicizing and promoting. This week we look at the "Water City Index 2023," which is a document produced by the Foundation for Economics and Public Administration, Open Eyes Economy Summit and Arcadis.

This is the fifth edition of the WCI Index, which is updated every year with new indicators and solutions to analyze the state of water management in Polish local governments. We wrote about the 2022 and 2021 reports on This year's report had its premiere during the 3rd WaterRoundtable - a report on the event was prepared by Ola Kloc

The Water City Index 2023 is available on the Open Eyes Economy Summit website.

poprzednia edycja zawierała cztery obszary, które w nowym raporcie zostało skrócone do trzech

The previous edition contained four areas, which have been shortened to three in the new report

© Water City Index

minor changes in methodology

This year's edition of the index includes a few changes regarding methodology. There is no change in the way cities are divided, taking into account metropolises, cities with county rights and medium-sized cities. For the first time, it was decided to compare Polish cities to other European centers.

An important change that affected the final results was a change in categories - instead of four, three main areas were identified. The first, life, refers to water and sewage management. The second, hazard, defines elements related to flooding, including flash floods, droughts and related phenomena. The last area, economy and society, combines elements of quality of life for residents, tourist attractiveness and rational management of space.

nowa struktura raportu

new structure of the report

© Water City Index

new actors of water space

There has been quite a change in the ranking of metropolises. Gdansk, which held the first place in the ranking for the last two years, gave way to Wroclaw, which triumphed in this year's installment of the WCI. Immediately behind the capital of Lower Silesia was again second-ranked Krakow and Bydgoszcz, which was only seventh in last year's edition.

wyniki metropolii w WCI 2023

metropolitan results in WCI 2023

© Water City Index

There were similarly big changes in the ranking for cities with county rights. In this year's edition, Slupsk took first place, followed closely by Olsztyn and Rzeszow. In the ranking of medium-sized cities, the first place went to Zywiec. It was immediately followed by cities such as Orzesze and Kolobrzeg.

wyniki miast na prawach powiatu w WCI 2023

results of cities with county rights in WCI 2023

© Water City Index

Polish cities compared to Europe

The index also includes a comparative issue on the position of Polish cities against European ones. Experts have adopted a completely different research methodology for this scope. The WCI Europe Index is based on 14 indicators, which were supplemented on the basis of available databases and questionnaires sent to local governments.

As indicated in the report, this part is not nuanced like the earlier ones, due to a number of factors such as location, wealth and risks.

The first place in this part of the index went to Estonia's capital Tallinn. Polish cities compared to others fared quite positively - Łódź, Szczecin and Bydgoszcz were ranked second, third and fourth, respectively.

wyniki indeksu z miastami europy

index results with european cities

© Water City Index

what are the results of this year's edition?

As the authors and authors point out, Polish local governments are increasingly aware of the role of water. Polish cities are mostly investing in water infrastructure, very often despite difficult conditions related to spatial chaos or the unstable way local governments have been financed in recent years.

How to organize water infrastructure, as well as adaptation to climate change, will be one of the most important issues in the coming years. Problems with water, excess or lack of it, will trouble all Polish cities - how they will deal with water is an open question.

The Water City Index 2023 is available on the Open Eyes Economy Summit website.

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