Sustainable Development of Cities of Russia
Aybika I. Beksultanova
, Tamilla L. Magomadova
and Madina A. Barzaeva
Chechen State University, Grozny, Russia
Grozny State Oil Technical University named after academician M.D. Millionshchikov, Grozny, Russia
Keywords: Sustainable Development, Cities of Russia, Pandemic.
Abstract: Today, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the sustainable development agenda is in focus from a new perspective.
The issues of inequality, social development and the environmental agenda, on the one hand, as well as the
topics of transparency, effective interaction of various interested parties to overcome common global
challenges, on the other hand, are becoming more and more relevant. The purpose of the work is to identify
leaders and outsiders of sustainable development among Russian cities to distinguish promising areas of their
growth, to identify the most balanced among them in the development of the economy, social area and ecology.
The characteristics of cities are given in five main blocks: economic development, urban infrastructure,
demography, social infrastructure, ecology. The main sources of information for compiling the Ranking were
the data of state statistics presented on the Internet resources of Rosstat, EMISS and the municipal
administrations' websites, the results of various Rankings/indices of cities and regions of the Russian
Federation. Based on the results of the Ranking, appropriate conclusions were made and key directions for
the development of regions were proposed.
Urbanization and the formation of large urban
agglomerations are among the most important trends
in world development. Every year, the world's urban
population is increasing by tens of millions of people
and will reach 60% of the world's population by 2030.
Cities produce most of the world's GDP, concentrate
the main financial and human resources, and are
centers for the development of science and
innovation, modern technologies.
The development of urbanization processes leads
to an aggravation of a number of social and economic
problems of large cities associated with
overpopulation, growing economic inequality, the
gap between the rates of population growth and
infrastructure development, the need to ensure
employment of the population in cities in the context
of technological progress and structural economic
changes. At the same time, modern urban ecosystems
are sources of large-scale negative impacts on the
environment. The urban population of almost 3.5
billion people occupies only 3% of the earth's land
area and consumes more than 70% of all energy,
forms about 70% of carbon dioxide emissions.
At the beginning of the second decade of the XXI
century, the global economy was hit by two crises at
the same time: the coronavirus pandemic and the
collapse in hydrocarbon prices, primarily crude oil
(Dynkin and Telegina, 2020). The imposition of a
double external shock - the coronavirus pandemic and
the global economic downturn - on the problems and
contradictions that have accumulated in the world
makes it necessary to evaluate the justified and
unjustified ideas and solutions of the past with
particular care (Fituni and Abramova, 2020). A
number of economically developed countries
associate the possibilities of overcoming the
consequences of the crisis caused by the pandemic
with the development of a low-carbon economy and
a "green" agenda. Thus, one of the key priorities of
the EU economic recovery plan, approved in July
2020, is the development of a "green" economy and
the implementation of the European Green Deal. This
plan calls for a reduction in carbon emissions to zero
Beksultanova, A., Magomadova, T. and Barzaeva, M.
Sustainable Development of Cities of Russia.
DOI: 10.5220/0010589702980304
In Proceedings of the International Scientific and Practical Conference on Sustainable Development of Regional Infrastructure (ISSDRI 2021), pages 298-304
ISBN: 978-989-758-519-7
2021 by SCITEPRESS Science and Technology Publications, Lda. All rights reserved
by 2050. Note that the implementation of the "green"
agenda has become popular not only in Europe, but
also in countries such as Canada, South Korea, and
other leading world economies. In 2021, the
implementation of the "green" agenda in the United
States has noticeably intensified. The development of
a low-carbon agenda was also updated at the level of
international associations of cities, such as the C-40
group (only Moscow is included in the group out of
all the Russian cities).
In September 2020, 12 cities in this group signed
the Declaration to refuse fossil fuels and invest in a
sustainable future. Signatory city governments have
pledged to phase out fossil fuel companies and have
advocated increased sustainable investment in
climate solutions, including job creation, to accelerate
economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the UN Conference in Rio de Janeiro
(“Rio+20”), it was stated that the Sustainable
Development Goals: - are a useful tool to focus efforts
on achieving specific development results within the
overall development vision; - aimed at defining
national priorities and mobilizing interested parties
and resources to address common challenges; -
should facilitate the full implementation of the
decisions of all major summits on economic, social
and environmental issues; - serve as the basis for
United Nations development activities.
The monitoring and reporting system for the
implementation of the SDGs in Russia is currently at
the formation stage. The collection of data on most of
the national SDGs indicators is provided only at the
federal level so far. Therefore, the regions and cities
lack the motivation, as well as the qualifications of
public servants and the experience to draw up such
reports. Thus, the first regional report on progress in
achieving the SDGs in 2019 in Russia was compiled
in the Rostov region. It was prepared on the initiative
and with the support of a leading regional bank
actively promoting the sustainable development
agenda and ESG in its activities. Also in 2019, within
the framework of the UN international forum, the
report of the Republic of Tatarstan on the SDGs was
As international practice shows, the development
of the SDGs agenda at the local level is possible
according to two main scenarios - as part of a unified
monitoring system enshrined in national legislation,
or as a “from below” initiative by the city
administration based on discussions with key
interested parties and taking into account an external
Note that in Russia the business community is the
key vehicle for the sustainable development agenda.
Large Russian companies - business leaders integrate
the goals of the Agenda-2030 into their strategies and
reflect aspects related to the implementation of the
SDGs at the program and project level. Disclosure of
information is one of the most important tools for
companies to interact with interested parties and
contributes to increased transparency and image
improvement, attracting investment. The logic of the
process development and the use of tools of the non-
financial reporting system of companies can be used
for cities as well.
To draw up the Ranking, an integral indicator was
compiled - the Urban Sustainable Development Index
(USDI). This index was calculated on the basis of 43
statistical indicators characterizing the development
of the city in five main blocks: economic
development, urban infrastructure, demography,
social infrastructure, and ecology. The methods of the
performed research contain theoretical and empirical
parts, description methods. This research is supported
by graphical methods of illustrating the data.
Leading cities of the Ranking
The three leaders of the SD Ranking for 2019 include
Moscow, the capital and largest economic center of
Russia, and the two most dynamically developing
regional centers - Krasnodar and Tyumen. Krasnodar
in 2018 in terms of population reached the mark of 1
million inhabitants. Tyumen is characterized by high
population growth rates and is approaching this mark
faster than other Russian cities. The unevenness of the
spatial distribution of the leading cities of the
Ranking across the territory of the country should be
noted. In the Center of the European part of Russia,
in the Volga region and in the Urals, there are
noticeably more of them than in the South of the
country, in Siberia, and in the Far East. The
composition of the cities leading in the Ranking -
TOP-30 - has remained practically stable over the
past 4 years, although the positions of specific cities
within this group may vary within several points
(Figure 1).
Sustainable Development of Cities of Russia
Figure 1: Leading cities of the SD Ranking in 2019.
In the group of Russian leading cities, one can
conditionally distinguish four groups of cities, each
of which has its own characteristics of development:
capitals and million-strong cities;
regional centers;
cities of the Moscow region;
centers of the oil and gas industry.
Among the leaders of the Ranking, large cities
prevail, for which the determining factor of
leadership is the balance in the development of all
areas of city life: economic, social and environmental,
and not the population as such. In turn, a number of
million-strong cities (Novosibirsk, Volgograd,
Chelyabinsk, Omsk), despite the high values of some
basic indicators of economic development, did not
even make it to the TOP-50 cities of the Ranking due
to negative demographic trends, environmental
problems and low assessments of the state of urban
infrastructure. Let's analyze the main factors that
determine the high positions of cities in each group.
Million-strong cities
The list of million-strong cities included in the
TOP-30 cities of the SD Ranking has not changed
over the past four years. This group includes 9 out of
16 Russian million-strong cities: the capitals
(Moscow, St. Petersburg), the largest cities of the
Urals (Yekaterinburg), Central Okrug (Voronezh),
two cities of the Southern Okrug (Krasnodar, Rostov-
on-Don), and three cities of the Volga Federal Okrug
(Kazan, Ufa, and Perm).
The leading positions of the two capitals in the
Ranking are quite natural and can be explained both
by their special status (these are not only cities, but
also are federal subjects), and economic and
administrative resources. Moscow and St. Petersburg
are several times ahead of other Russian million-
strong cities, primarily in terms of population and
financial capabilities. Of all Russian cities, they are
the most consistent with the criteria of a “global city”
and are comparable to European and world capitals in
terms of social and economic development.
Let's designate the key factors that determine their
high positions in the SD Ranking of cities:
relatively high investment attractiveness;
high potential for the development of modern
high-tech industries and digital services;
availability of budgetary opportunities to
maintain and modernize urban and social
attractiveness for intraregional and
interregional migration (with the exception of
Voronezh, Perm and Ufa);
a diversified labor market - the presence of both
large industrial enterprises and a developed
service sector;
relatively high rates of housing construction
and renovation of the housing stock; the
possibility of obtaining high-quality secondary
and higher education;
relatively high purchasing power of the
Distribution of leading cities of the SD Ranking
by federal districts
ISSDRI 2021 - International Scientific and Practical Conference on Sustainable Development of Regional Infrastructure
In each federal district, cities can be distinguished,
characterized by a balance of economic, social and
environmental development, which attract people
from other cities and regions. They can be both large
and medium-sized in terms of population (Table 3).
Table 3. Distribution of leading cities of the SD Ranking by federal districts.
Federal district Grou
s of cities b
more than 500 thousand
le 250-500 thousand
le less than 250 thousand
Moscow 1 Krasnogorsk 7 Odintsovo 9
Voronezh 23 Mytishchi 10 Reutov 12
Tambov 28 Belgorod 17 Domodedovo 15
St. Petersburg Kalinin
rad 5 Ukhta 68 8
Syktyvkar 54
Vologda 58
Kazan 6 Yoshkar-Ola 65 Almetyevsk 19
Ufa 18 Nizhnekamsk 36
Cheboksary 22 Novokuibyshevsk 60
Tyumen 2 Surgut 13 Nefteyugansk 8
Yekaterinburg 16 Nizhnevartovsk 14 Tobolsk 21
Novy Urengoy 25
Siberian and Far
Khabarovsk 42 Yakuts
44 Yuzhno-Sakhalins
Krasnoyarsk 48 Blagoveshchensk 59 Petropavlovsk-
Tomsk 52
South and North
Krasnodar 3 Stavropol 20 Anapa 53
Rostov-on-Don 26 Novorossiysk 51 Nazran 67
Sochi 56
Cities at the bottom of the Ranking
In general, the composition of the group of cities
closing the SD Ranking (25) has remained relatively
stable for several years, although some changes are
taking place within this group. Twenty-five positions
in the lower part of the SD Ranking are occupied by
ten industrial centers of the Urals and Western
Siberia, which have the status of mono-cities
(Prokopyevsk, Kiselevsk, Pervouralsk, Serov,
Belovo, Leninsk-Kuznetsky, Miass,
Mezhdurechensk, Zlatoust, Sarapul); a number of
cities without the status of a mono-city, but with
similar social and economic problems
(Novoshakhtinsk, Rubtsovsk, Shakhty, Murom,
Kopeisk, etc.) and several cities of Crimea (Yalta,
Feodosia, Evpatoria). Of all the regional centers, this
group includes only the capital of Buryatia, Ulan-Ude
(Figure 2).
The main factors that determine the low positions
of the outsider cities in the Ranking are the same for
most of them:
high subsidization of local budgets;
low investment attractiveness, lack of financial
opportunities to upgrade communal and social
transport infrastructure, low incomes of the
population, limited employment opportunities;
low diversification of the economy (for mono-
cities - poor development of the service sector,
for Crimean cities - poor industrial
natural decline, mass outflow (with the
exception of Ulan-Ude and Crimean cities),
aging of the population;
poor quality of the urban environment, a high
degree of deterioration of the urban
underdevelopment of modern industries,
innovations, digital services;
low quality of secondary education, limited
opportunities for obtaining higher education.
Sustainable Development of Cities of Russia
Figure 2: Lowest 20 Cities in the SD Ranking in 2019.
In these cities, there are practically no large
companies that pay great attention to social
investments in the territory of their presence. For
most cities-outsiders, the low purchasing power of the
population and stable depopulation determine the low
rates of housing construction. Although, we should
note that specifically in 2019, housing
commissioning in most cities of this group has
increased, which can be partly explained by the
success of federal mortgage programs. In the cities of
Crimea, where the rate of housing construction on
average, on the contrary, has been significantly higher
in recent years than in other cities of this group,
housing commissioning has noticeably decreased in
2019 (especially in Yalta - by 60% and in Yevpatoria
- by 40%), the exception was Kerch.
Most of the industrial centers that occupy the
lowest positions in the Ranking are characterized by
acute environmental problems caused by the
activities of their 21 city-forming enterprises, first of
all, we are talking about metallurgical centers and
cities of the coal industry. For non-gasified cities of
Eastern Siberia and the Far East, the use of non-
environmentally friendly fuels plays an important
role in air pollution. Cities such as Ulan-Ude, Belovo,
Novoshakhtinsk, Prokopyevsk, Shakhty and a
number of others received one of the lowest rankings
in terms of urban space greening in the Urban
Environment Quality Index.
If we talk about the cities of Crimea, the air
quality in them, on the contrary, is much better than
the national average, and Crimea as a whole is among
the most environmentally friendly and tourist
attractive regions of the country. At the same time,
every year in the cities of Crimea, problems with
water resources are aggravated. Note that this factor
is not directly taken into account in the Ranking.
Thus, we can conclude that the TOP-5 leading cities
of the SD Ranking for 2019 did not change and
includes Moscow, Krasnodar, Tyumen, St.
Petersburg, and Kaliningrad. The group of leaders
consists of four types of Russian cities: million-strong
cities, successful regional centers, cities of the
Moscow region, and centers of the oil and gas
industry. Almetyevsk, Lipetsk and Tambov returned
to the TOP-30 leaders of the Ranking in 2019, while
Obninsk, Orenburg and Khimki left it.
There is a high degree of correlation between the
development of regional centers and major cities and
the level of development of the regions in which they
are located. Most of the cities from the TOP-30
Ranking are located in regions with a high level of
social and economic development, and the regional
centers with the lowest positions in the SD Ranking
ISSDRI 2021 - International Scientific and Practical Conference on Sustainable Development of Regional Infrastructure
are located in the most depressed regions of the
The result analysis of the Ranking indicates the
importance of the quality of education and the
development of human capital for the development of
cities. Cities with a high level of higher and secondary
education occupy high positions in the Ranking and
have a higher potential for sustainable development
and migration attractiveness in the medium term.
In a year, no more than 15% of 185 cities change
their position in the Ranking by more than 30
positions. A significant change in the positions of
cities is determined by 3-5 indicators from various
blocks (economic development, urban infrastructure,
social infrastructure).
The lowest positions in the Ranking are occupied
by single-industry cities, old industrial centers, and a
number of Crimean cities. All of them demonstrate
the absence of stable positive dynamics, allowing
them to get out of the ranks of outsiders in the
The results of the Ranking in 2019 allow us to
assess with what parameters of development Russian
cities approached the economic crisis of 2020. In the
context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance
of assessing social infrastructure and the level of
digitalization of cities has grown. The public demand
for a new quality of the urban environment is
growing, in which the priority of the criterion of its
safety, as well as the availability of infrastructure and
the development of effective communication
systems, is increasing.
Preliminary data on the state of the economy of
Russian cities for 2020 show that the largest negative
impact of the economic crisis caused by the COVID-
19 pandemic has had on the largest cities of the
country (capitals, cities with a population of over one
million). At the same time, this group of cities, due to
their scale, have the resources for a faster economic
recovery. At the regional level, the best economic
dynamics during the crisis period is demonstrated by
the most developed regions, which have accumulated
a greater margin of safety due to balanced
Important drivers of the development of Russian
cities in the new realities will be:
the formation of new high-tech industries;
smart technology adoption and digital
transformation; improving energy efficiency;
development of modern systems of education
and health care;
improving human capital; improving the
quality of the urban environment.
The development of remote forms of employment
in Russia will contribute to a certain reformatting of
migration flows within the country and the
consolidation of the population in cities with a high
quality of life, developed urban and social
infrastructure, even if the local labor market is poorly
developed in these cities. New factors on the external
agenda and expanding the horizons for the
implementation of National Projects until 2030 create
new challenges for the strategic planning of Russian
cities in general and necessitate adjusting the existing
strategies for social and economic development at the
regional and city level, taking into account the
sustainable development agenda.
It is difficult to single out any goals in the area of
sustainable development, all goals and objectives are
important. Moreover, they are interconnected -
sustainable development presupposes the unification
of all three aspects of the population's life - social,
economic, environmental. As the analysis of
materials for the preparation of the Russian Voluntary
National Review of the Implementation of the 2030
Agenda for Sustainable Development has shown,
there are so-called "points of growth" for each SDG.
These are the tasks that need to be solved in order to
further achieve the goals set at the international level.
For example, this are both the acceleration of the
growth of labor productivity, and the elimination of
differences in the distribution of incomes of the
population, including in the regional context.
In recent years, Russia has shown significant
progress in achieving these SDGs.
The Russian government has proposed and
implemented a number of state support measures to
minimize damage from the pandemic in the main
industries and the social area.
According to the Recovery Plan, in 2020-2021, it
is planned to allocate about five trillion rubles to
support the national economy and population. On
July 14, 2020, the presentation of the first Russian
Voluntary National Review of the Implementation of
the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development took
place. During this presentation, the Minister of
Economic Development of the Russian Federation
Maxim Reshetnikov informed that 3.26 trillion rubles
out of this amount are provided for social support of
the population; support for small and medium-sized
businesses, as well as backbone companies and
enterprises from the most affected sectors of the
economy; to provide government guarantees; to
Sustainable Development of Cities of Russia
support and balance the budgets of the subjects of the
Russian Federation.
Budushcheye v gorodakh (2017). Elektronnyy resurs.
Rezhim dostupa
Dynkin, A., Telegina, Ye. (2020). Pandemicheskiy shok i
mir posle krizisa. Mirovaya ekonomika i
mezhdunarodnyye otnosheniya, 64(8):5-16.
Fituni, L., Abramova, I. (2020). Razvivayushchiyesya
strany v politicheskoy ekonomii postkoronavirusnogo
mira. Mirovaya ekonomika i mezhdunarodnyye
otnosheniya, 64(9):5-14.
O komplekse indeksov RSPP po ustoychivomu razvitiyu,
KSO i otchetnosti. Elektronnyy resurs. Rezhim dostupa
Prezentatsiya dlya investorov ESG Banking: sdelano v
Rossii. 2020. Elektronnyy resurs. Rezhim dostupa
Regiony Rossii i tseli ustoychivogo razvitiya OON.
Elektronnyy resurs. Rezhim dostupa
Report of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable
Development 126 p. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 20–22 June
2012. Elektronnyy resurs. Rezhim dostupa
CSD%20REPORT%20fi nal%20revs.pdf (accessed
Rostovskaya oblast' –dvizheniye k tselyam ustoychivogo
razvitiya. Elektronnyy resurs. Rezhim dostupa
Sredstva massovoy informatsii (2020). Elektronnyy resurs.
Rezhim dostupa
Tseli ustoychivogo razvitiya vklyucheny vo vnutrennyuyu
politiku Rossii (2020). Elektronnyy resurs. Rezhim
Yevropeyskaya zelenaya sdelka (2021). Elektronnyy
resurs. Rezhim dostupa
ISSDRI 2021 - International Scientific and Practical Conference on Sustainable Development of Regional Infrastructure