Gaps in Urban Sustainability Indicators

By Somdeep Nandy.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Achieving sustainability is the common challenge facing each and every city across the world; simultaneously, sustainability indicators are increasingly recognised as the most effective mean to measuring sustainability trends. Unlike cities in developing countries, some cities in developed countries have evolved their own urban sustainability indicators; however, most of these have failed to meet the holistic purpose of Sustainable Development. Equally, an absence of urban sustainability indicators makes it difficult to measure the performance of the cities, resulting in unexpected outcomes.

First this paper will give an overview of a sustainable city. By explaining chapters 28 and 40 of the UN’s Agenda 21, it will describe the importance of sustainability indicators and their role in the assessment of urban sustainability to bridge data gaps and improve information availability. From an extensive literature review, this paper will identify the common features and purposes of urban sustainability indicators. For better understanding, this paper will examine various existing city-level sustainable development indicators and develop a comparative analysis to explain the insufficiencies of these indicators. Further, it will argue that for developing countries, examining the current state of sustainability is more relevant than the traditional process to measure sustainability trends. In conclusion, this paper will suggest some effective measures to improve the efficiency of urban sustainability indicators in different contexts.

Keywords: Urban Sustainability, Sustainability Indicators, Sustainability Measurement, Sustainable Development, Urban Planning, Urban Policy

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 7, Issue 6, pp.127-144. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.151MB).

Somdeep Nandy

Research Assistant, Centre for Sustainable Asian Cities, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore

I received my Master’s degree in Environmental Management from the National University of Singapore in 2010 and am currently working as a research assistant in the Centre for Sustainable Asian Cities, NUS, and Singapore, in Urban Metabolism Project. My Master’s thesis was on Urban Sustainability Indicators for Kolkata, India, and my research interests include Urban Sustainability, Urban Ecology, Urban Metabolism, Environmental Planning, Urban Planning, and Urban Environmental Policy and Management. Previously, I worked as an architect in India. After completing my Bachelor’s in Architecture from Bengal Engineering and Science University, Shibpure, Howrah, India, in 2007, I worked on several architectural projects, as well as in urban design projects.


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