Madrid Nuevo Norte has decided to measure the project's impact on the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, applying a methodology developed by the UN to identify and measure the goals that the urban development affects positively, and which is also in line with the sustainability strategy of the city's local government.

Measurement of impact in line with the 2030 Agenda

The purpose Madrid Nuevo Norte's (MNN) Contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals report is to identify, determine, and measure the impacts that the urban development project will have on its surroundings.

The SDGs are the ideal framework for analysing, understanding and measuring the impact of urban development projects on cities. For this reason, many global cities align their strategies with the SDGs, localising the 2030 Agenda targets and preparing voluntary local reviews (VLRs).

Madrid is one of these global cities and, since the 2030 Agenda was created, it has shown a commitment that materialised in the drafting of the Strategy for Localisation of the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda in the City of Madrid, developed in March 2021.

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Illustration of a people running

Madrid Nuevo Norte aligns with global commitments and agendas, establishing sustainability as one of its fundamental aspects.

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In 2021, it began collaborating with the Madrid City Council to align Madrid Nuevo Norte with the municipal strategy and turn it into a driver to enable the city to achieve its goals.

Madrid Nuevo Norte is now a vital part of the city's long-term strategy, in key aspects such as decarbonisation. As a result, the project will be included in the VLR of Madrid and will be given its own chapter because of the development's importance and size.

A 4-step methodology

Localisation and alignment with SDG targets

To measure the impact of Madrid Nuevo Norte it was first necessary to determine which of the 169 targets, established in the 17 SDGs, the project could help to achieve. Three criteria were used:

  1. Urban targets. Of the 114 targets at the urban level, 58 that were applicable to the project were selected using the methodology of the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC), defined in its European Handbook for SDG Voluntary Local Reviews.
  2. Local targets. Based on the document Strategy for Localisation of the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda in the City of Madrid, 40 of the targets taken on and applied locally by the City of Madrid were identified.
  3. Primary targets of Madrid Nuevo Norte. A total of 35 targets were found to meet the main criterion of responding to specific actions and initiatives of the development of the project itself, according to the documentation of the Socio-Economic Impact Report, the specific modification of the City Plan of Madrid Nuevo Norte and Madrid Nuevo Norte's Master Frameworks for sustainability.

Constructing the set of indicators

After the targets to be used to measure the impact had been located and identified, a series of indicators were constructed to make it possible to comprehensively and systematically measure all of the SDGs located at the territorial level.

Urban indicators to measure the impact

The indicators that apply at the urban level and aimed at measuring impact are classified as:

  • Effort indicators: These measure actions initiated by the project and are used to assess the status of their implementation, but they do not define the impact on their own (for example: "number of schools built" or "kilometres of cycle paths").
  • Outcome indicators: These measure the achievement of the goal and are aimed at assessing the quality of life of citizens.

Reference sources at the European level and Madrid's own SDG strategy were used to identify these two types of indicators. A total of 315 outcome indicators and 73 effort indicators were obtained.

To correctly measure some SDG targets, it's possible to measure the implemented action more completely by introducing another type of indicator: the operational indicator.

Operational indicators

An operational indicator is an indicator that directly measures the outcome of an action that can be completely defined, and that in turn directly conditions the value of another indicator because it is impossible to measure this second value.

We used this concept, from the Global Urban Monitoring Framework, to measure SDG targets that have clear outcome indicators, but that cannot be determined at this point in the project.

This concept is taken from the Global Urban Monitoring Framework and includes several different types:

  • Statistical indicators: These are calculated with data from public or open sources or data from the documents from Madrid Nuevo Norte that were analysed.
  • GIS indicators (geographical): QGIS Software, which was considered be the most suitable because it is open and collaborative software, was used to develop these indicators. The geographical layers used to calculate these indicators were also taken from public and open sources and the Madrid Nuevo Norte documents themselves.

In cases where numerical data were not available or if quantitative calculation methods could not be applied, the decision was made to describe qualitative mechanisms of the effect of the actions of Madrid Nuevo Norte on its surroundings.

In this step a total of 43 operational indicators were identified and defined, directly transferring them or adapting methodologies from the reference sources. These were used to measure 22 of the 35 primary targets of Madrid Nuevo Norte. The other 21 indicators measure SDG targets that coincide with at least one of the reference frameworks (JRC or Madrid Strategy).

Table of indicators

These European-level reference sources were used to identify these two types of indicators:

Reference Sources

  • Logo ONU Global Indicator Framework for Sustainable Development Goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development United Nations
  • Logo ONU Global Urban Monitoring Framework United Nations
  • Logo JRC European Handbook for SDG Voluntary Local Reviews Joint Research Centre of the European Commission
  • Escudo de Madrid Strategy for locating the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda in the City of Madrid Madrid City Council

Data collection and application

The data were then collected to calculate the indicators.

The main sources used for the outcome indicators were official databases at the European (Eurostat), national (Spanish Statistical Office) and local (Madrid City Council) levels.

The effort and operational indicators, on the other hand, when referring to measurements originating from Madrid Nuevo Norte or organisations in the field, were collected from open data sources of the City of Madrid and the documentation of Madrid Nuevo Norte itself.

Experimental indicators aimed at accessibility were also calculated, following or based on the calculation methodologies defined by the JRC, the United Nations or other reference bodies.

After the data had been collected and the indicators calculated, the data sheets that analyse the different goals were constructed, adapting the block model of the Global Urban Monitoring Framework:


Analysis of the impact on SDG targets

The final step, after locating and aligning the targets, constructing the indicators and collecting the data, was aimed at identifying how Madrid Nuevo Norte positively affects the achievement of the SDGs and, specifically, Madrid's SDG localisation strategy. Here we examined the different types and derivative mechanisms of impact in greater depth, quantifying some of them.

In this sense, a direct impact refers to the impulse that a particular action exerts on the achievement of the SDG goal with which it has been aligned, so that this impact is positive if the likelihood of achieving the goal before 2030 improves.

It is complicated to measure this impact for a project in Madrid Nuevo Norte's current phase. Only when there is continuity in the indicator along the blocks can this impact be easily determined. For the rest of the cases, several different approaches were used depending on the target and the available indicators, which are specified respectively in each data sheet, and including seven qualitative sheets. In all cases, this impact was quantified in terms of two dimensions:

  • Intensity. In quantifiable indicators, impact is considered to be high when the output/outcome indicator changes by more than 10%. In the rest, it was evaluated based on a qualitative criterion or previous experiences.
  • Scale. Measurement of the geographical or administrative scope of the impact, from the mechanisms that affect just the area of Madrid Nuevo Norte to those that influence the entire Region of Madrid or beyond.


Madrid Nuevo Norte has a direct positive impact on the 17 SDGs, with the largest impact on Goals 3, 8 and 11. It also contributes significantly to Goals 6, 12 and 13.

Illustration of a family
SDG 3 Good health and well-being
  • Heart-healthy routes and sports areas that promote mental health will be created.
  • Independent pedestrian and cycle paths have been designed.
  • Sanitary facilities will be expanded and contaminated soil will be reclaimed.
SDG 6 Clean Water and Sanitation
  • Work is underway to create the infrastructure to reduce the consumption of drinking water by 50% (the national average is 10%) by replacing it with other water resources such as rainwater or reclaimed water.
SDG 8 Decent work and economic growth
  • More than EUR 15 billion of investment.
  • Creation of 350,000 jobs, which will reduce the unemployment rate in Madrid by 1.7% in 2030.
SDG 11
SDG 11 Sustainable cities and communities
  • New transport connections will be opened.
  • Cultural facilities and open spaces for public use and new green areas will be developed.
SDG 12
SDG 12 Responsible production and consumption
  • Boosting the circular economy thanks to the reuse of 97% of the demolition waste.
SDG 13
SDG 13 Climate Action
  • Implementation of the strategy for climate neutrality in Madrid by 2030 by creating a zero-carbon district.
Some of the more important aspects of the territorial impact of Madrid Nuevo Norte include: