Developing a Well-Being Index for Asian Cities

Asian cities are growing with astonishing intensity but have not been well-served with tools to allow citizens to reflect on the quality of urban development and its impact on the wellbeing of people and communities. This project outlines an initiative to create such a tool – a “wellbeing” index for Asian cities that harnesses the power of indices PLUS engages citizens on issues of civic importance.

This project seeks to capitalize on this attribute of indices in order to generate discussions in Asian cities about what “wellbeing” means to their citizens, with a view to allowing citizens to take stock of their city’s development pathway. It is also aligned with Clean Air Asia’s mission to promote better air quality and livable cities.


Phase I is already completed. Phase II is an 18-month initiative in which the survey instrument or questionnaire is conceived and refined through a consultative approach with the other regional collaborators. The consultation process will be designed and driven by Civic Exchange, with the Hong Kong Transition Project acting as the key technical consultant for the drafting of the questionnaire and Clean Air Asia as the engagement partner for Metro Manila.

The overarching objective across all phases is to use the construction and execution of an index to engage communities within Asian cities in deeper dialogue on how their city functions and its impact on the lives of citizens.

Phase I September-December 2011 (Completed)

  • Explore the feasibility of an index for Asian cities to monitor and compare progress on livability and wellbeing.

Phase II April 2012-September 2013 (Completed)

  • Construct the framework for the index through a collaborative process with partner organizations.

Phase III October 2013-March 2014 (Completed)

  • Trial the index in a selection of focus cities in Asia and use the index as a tool for engagement and dialogue in those cities.

Phase IV April 2014 – onwards

  • Expand to other Asian cities.

This approach would allow comparison of how wellbeing is considered across different cities, as well as increasing understanding amongst cities of each other’s unique cultures and challenges, creating an “Asian community of interest” in wellbeing issues. From the perspective of a public policy think tank, the project will allow civil society players to identify pressure points where public policy can improve people’s wellbeing.

Expected Results

In essence, the proposed index would be constructed from the results of a public opinion survey, created through a collaborative design process, and conducted by professional pollsters via randomized telephone methods.

Supported by:Civic Exchange

Ritchie (Chee) Anne Roño, ritchie.rono(at)