Resources for Applicants

Below are some resources that may be helpful for developing a robust and competitive application for the WRI Ross Prize for Cities. The key is specificity: being clear and detailed about what your project has achieved. There is no hard and fast lower boundary of “transformative,” but keep in mind that transformative is defined as a “thorough or dramatic change in form, function or appearance,” and that we are looking for projects that have changed their cities. You should be able to clearly point out project impacts that go beyond a single neighborhood.

Three Dimensions

There are three dimensions of transformation, each of which can be measured in various ways. We do not expect all of the changes to be positive for everybody influenced by the project, and we ask that negative impacts be reported alongside positive transformation.


  • Increased vitality of surrounding neighborhoods, improvement in city revenues, new/different businesses and jobs, a move from “sunset” sectors to “new economy” opportunities, accelerated investment rates.
  • Possible Indicators: increased number of new businesses, expanded range of services, or private investment in the city; increased budget allocation from national governments; increased number of jobs created and/or retained; increased wages, especially for low-income populations and/or women; improved rates of tax collection/revenues; decreased income disparity across class, race, ethnicity, or gender.


  • Increased resilience to short- and long-term climate events, lower emissions and greater resource efficiency, cleaner air and water, increased biodiversity, and more green space.
  • Possible Indicators: improved air quality (e.g., reduced levels of PM2.5, reduced number of days with haze); improved solid waste management practices, resulting in lower levels of improper waste disposal; reduced energy consumption among residential, commercial, and/or governmental users; increase in land and habitat preservation, especially in ecologically diverse zones, green space, and “green infrastructure,” providing flood protection; reduced area of permeable surfaces; reduced traffic congestion; increased use of renewable energy; increased volume of food produced within the urban administrative boundary; improved walkability (e.g., as measured through a walkability index); reduced waste produced; improved water quality (both in drinking water and waterways).


  • New and active networks, more social cohesion, safer and healthier communities, improved representation and civic engagement.
  • Possible Indicators: increased access to and quality of basic services and opportunities for marginalized groups (e.g., water, sanitation, health care, transportation, education); improved health outcomes, especially for poor and marginalized groups; evidence of strong community resilience (e.g., strength of participation in formal and informal community institutions, strength of social connectivity, dependency/debt ratio); decreased incidences of crime and violence; fewer traffic accidents and injuries; increased political representation of minority groups.

When considering how best to bolster your application, it is important to ensure you are speaking both broadly and specifically about its impacts.

For example, the Cheonggyecheon River, in Seoul, South Korea. The river had been covered by an elevated highway running through the heart of the city since 1961. Significant structural issues in the 1990s and 2000s, which would have cost $95 million to fix, prompted a plan to instead restore the 10.9-kilometer-long stretch to its natural state. Economically, the project increased surrounding land value by 30-50 percent. The number of businesses in the area grew by 3.5 percent, double the rate of downtown Seoul. The number of people working in the area increased by 0.8 percent, reversing overall trends in the city, which otherwise saw a decrease of 2.6 percent. Environmentally, the project helped reduce flooding, increased biodiversity, reduced the urban heat island effect, and reduced small-particle air pollution by 35 percent. The project also rehabilitated historic cultural sites. The park now attracts 64,000 visitors daily, and has been linked to a 15.1 percent increase in bus ridership and a 3.3 percent increase in subway use.

For more on the Cheonggyecheon River project and examples on how to display a project dynamically, please visit the following webpages:

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