With the rapid growth of the design discipline and its application within and outside the design community, design-related practice and policy have attracted the attention of academics, practitioners and policy makers around the world. Major economies around the world, such as China, India, the EU, the UK and the US, have developed specific national strategies and plans to promote design and design-led innovation to support national industries and even broader socio-economic development (Hobday et al., 2012), meanwhile, many international policy bodies and organisations are also working together to try to integrate design into the global agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals[1]. A representative example is the Montreal Design Declaration[2], issued by a group of UN specialised agencies (e.g. UNESCO and UNEP) and international design organisations (e.g. ICO-D and BEDA).

The World Design Organisation (WDO) is one of the most important change agents on the world stage for promoting good design and design-led development. It was formerly known as the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design, founded in 1957. It is now an international non-governmental organisation with more than 170 member organisations, dedicated to promoting and sharing knowledge of industrial design-driven innovation that improves the economic, social, cultural and environmental quality of life.

The World Design Capital (WDC) is a global initiative of the WDO that is held in different cities around the world every two years to showcase best practice in urban policy and innovation based on sustainable design through a one-year programme of events by the designated city. Since 2008, eight cities around the world have been selected through a bidding process to become WDCs, including Torí (2008), Seül (2010), Hèlsinki (2012), Ciutat del Cap (2014), Taipei (2016), Ciutat de Mèxic (2018) and Lilla Metropole (2020).

In September 2019, València, Spain’s third largest city, managed to be nominated WDC2022 against other rivals thanks to “[its] effective and strategic use of design in public policies and the beneficial impact on industries, infrastructures and mobility…”[3]. As a commitment in the World Design Capital bid, an observatory will be created to monitor and evaluate the socio-economic impact of design on the city and its citizens in pursuit of sustainable development goals through design-enabled innovation.

Therefore, the Economics of Culture Research Unit (Econcult) of the University of Valencia is commissioned to carry out a series of WDC2022 impact studies in order to assess and monitor the impact and effects of WDC-related events and activities, thus supporting a lasting legacy of the WDC initiative based on a sustainable approach.

The WDC2022 impact study series will consist of seven quarterly reports to be published between July 2021 and May 2023, each focusing on a specific impact assessment theme or dimension, and a final report on the combined impact of WDC2022 in September 2023.

This text is designed to develop a holistic evaluation framework that can guide the forthcoming evaluation and monitoring work during the preparation, implementation and closure phases of WDC2022, and to report on the preliminary results of the surveys of citizens and design practitioners to build an initial understanding of the outreach activities and short-term impact of WDC2022.

WDC2022 Evaluation Framework

Starting from this premise, this impact study is carried out with two main objectives: one is to assess the overall impact of holding WDC events on the local economy; and the other is to examine the role of design in supporting innovation and urban transformation in the city of Valencia. The latter actually assesses the degree of integration of design and design culture in society and in people’s daily lives, which has to be considered a legacy of the WDC initiative in the city and will have a deeper and more sustainable impact on society. Finally, taking into account all the factors affecting people, benefits and planet involved in the evaluation, an experimental evaluation framework is proposed comprising four main dimensions: economic, social, cognitive and environmental. Each dimension also includes several measurement indices, which are presented in Figure 1.

[1] The description of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals as defined by the United Nations is available at

[2] Visit

[3] Visit

Valencia será la capital mundial del diseño en 2022. Tomará el relevo de la francesa Lille en esta iniciativa bienal creada por el World Design 0rganization (WD0), radicada en Canadá. El jurado de esta entidad privada, formada por diseñadores, arquitectos, interioristas y empresarios de numerosos países, comunicó en Septiembre de 2019 su decisión de designar a Valencia por delante de la otra finalista, la ciudad india de Bangaluru, la cuarta metrópoli más poblada de su país (con 4,5 millones de habitantes). Será la primera vez que una ciudad española ejerza la citada capitalidad, tras el intento fallido de Bilbao de 2014. Para concurrir a dicha designación, la Asociación Valencia Capital Mundial del Diseño presentó un "libro de candidatura", que determinaba a grandes rasgos la necesidad de evaluar los impactos del evento
  • Chuan Li
  • Pau Rausell
  • Aitana Cabedo
  • Inés Carreres