Comparing the sustainability of different cities

1172 words

How would you compare the sustainability of different metropoliss?


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Keeping sustainable is a het issue, catching attending of the public’s and the politicians’ all around the Earth. Some metropoliss are taking in this respect than other metropoliss. It will assist to joint an attack to sustainability by measuring the sustainability of different metropoliss. Aiming at happening out the manner to compare the sustainability of different metropoliss, this essay will foremost give a conceptual definition of sustainability. And the 2nd portion will mention to the indexs of sustainability and the quantisation method to put up a model to mensurate sustainability. Consequently, a simple overview of extant sustainability indices will be demonstrated. Finally, some recommendation for developing urban sustainability indices will be put frontward.

The conceptual definition of sustainability

What is sustainability? The construct of sustainability does be equivocal and contested in the last several decennaries since in embryo to widespread. Criticisms including vagueness, lip service and psychotic beliefs are linked to this construct ( Robinson, 2004 ) .

Since the consequence of the comparing will be basically based on the definition of sustainability, the definition of the construct should be thorough and easy to be put into application. Therefore, the construct can be carried out by different metropoliss and contribute to do the current state of affairs better. Therefore, in this essay, sustainability as a construct will be an unity of ecological, societal and economic systems positions. Besides, it has to be mentioned that this essay will non know apart the difference between sustainable development and sustainability since it holds the position that these two nomenclatures point to the same concerns. One recognized definition is “Sustainable development is development that meets the demands of the present coevals while safeguarding Earth’s life-supporting system, on which the public assistance of current and future coevalss depends” ( Griggs D. et Al. 2013, p.306 ) . However, this essay holds the position that sustainability is to make a society that would be able to remain indefinitely within environmental bounds, taking economic public assistance, environmental quality and societal coherency into consideration.

The definition will acquire farther developed as the indexs will be given, which will confront up the practical demand and application related to sustainability.

Indexs of sustainability to connote what constitutes sustainability

Some mensurable criterions should be set when comparing sustainability of different metropoliss. To happen out these criterions, it will be efficient to foremost set it to features which can be learned from the renowned sustainable metropoliss. See sustainability as stray seeable parts and do the construct solid and applicable. Take the eight finalists for the European Green Capital Award [ EGCA ] 2010 and 2011 as illustrations ( EGCA, n.d. ) , these metropoliss were evaluated on the 10 environmental index countries:

• Local part to planetary clime alteration

• Local mobility and rider transit

• Availability of local public unfastened countries

• Quality of local ambient air

• Noise pollution

• Waste production and direction

• Water ingestion

• Waste H2O direction

• Environmental direction of the local authorization

• Sustainable land usage.

These 10 indexs cover most of the facets in which a sustainability metropolis can be identified. And they besides meet the demand of informations handiness and preciseness. Besides, they focus on the sustainability of urban life alternatively of a broad scope from rural country to metropoliss ; they are specifically pertinent to the issue on the comparing of sustainability of different metropoliss.

Scientific methods to quantify the indexs to sustainability

As the indexs to sustainability are identified, the model of mention to turn up the sustainability of different metropoliss is ab initio built up. The following measure is to happen out the manner to do the comparing mensurable, that is to find the grading, standardization, burdening and collection methodological analysis. The methodological analysis should be scientific in order to vouch the meaningfulness of the analysis of the composing indexs. Though the teachers are to some extent subjective, the manner to normalize and burden them should be every bit nonsubjective as possible.

Table 1

Collection regulations for variables by Ebert and Welsch


Full comparison

Interval graduated table

Dictatorial ordination

Arithmetical mean

Ratio graduated table


Any homothetic map

Table 1 provides an overview of which functional signifiers for the collection of variables are feasible depending on their graduated tables and the coveted mathematical belongingss by Ebert and Welsch ( Bohringer et al, 2007 ) . The collection of the indexs should follow this principal.

A general overview of some extant sustainability indices

An impressive figure of sustainability development indices ( SDIs ) has been developed by a assortment of establishments and NGOs. These indices are provided in order chiefly to provide assist for policy-makers and scientists. Some of the most-used sustainability indices are listed here, cited from a reappraisal by Mayer ( 2008 ) .

•Wellbeing Index, an norm of the Human Wellbeing Index and the Ecosystem Wellbeing Index.

•Environmental Sustainability Index ( ESI ) by The World Economic Forum, an index focuses entirely on societal indexs.

•Green GDP, indices history for the decrease in available ecosystem goods and services due to economic activity, and the economic resources spent on extenuating environmental harm.

The chief job across sustainability indices is that the concluding consequence may be biased since both indexs and collection methods may reflect a preference. Besides, present is a common failing at nowadays is that the variables of the indexs are non crystalline to the populace. All indices are debatable if informations are unavailable for the bulk of the aggregative indexs ( Audrey, 2008 ) . In add-on, sing empirical analysis, informations handiness restricts the choice of variables. The indices may establish on informations which are easy to acquire alternatively on what is more meaningful.

Recommendation to better the extant sustainability indices

As one index normally provide a peculiar dimension of sustainability, it will be good to utilize several indices in combination to hold a comprehensive apprehension of sustainability. However, it will do another job about how to do a combination of the informations of different dimensions. Olalla-Tarraga demonstrates an illustration of uniting sustainability indices, that is to do a combination of the Ecological Footprint Index ( EFI ) , which is a ecological carrying capacity and distance-to-target index, the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare ( ISEW ) , which is an economically biased index and the Fisher Information Index ( 2006 ) . Besides, governments that release these indices should maintain the transparence of the informations resource to do the consequences converting. Furthermore, the collection method should be consistent to scientific rules, as what was mentioned in this essay before.


In decision, this essay explores on the attack to compare sustainability of different metropoliss in order to better the sustainability of disparate parts of the universe. Based on the definition of the construct of sustainability, this essay puts frontward some indexs of urban sustainability by analysing some sample metropoliss of sustainability. Meanwhile, it demonstrates the scientific method to aggregate the indexs to vouch a dependable consequence of comparing. Besides, it gives some illustrations of several widely-used sustainability indices and analyses their failing. Further recommendations are brought forthtoan appropriate usage of bing sustainability indices and the betterment of the these indices..


Bohringera, C. & A ; Jochemc, P. E. P. , ( 2007 ) . Measuring the Immeasurable — A Survey of Sustainability Indices.Ecological Economicss,63, 1-8.

EGCA, ( n.d. ) , Best Practice Catalogue–Award Cycle 2010 & A ; 2011. Retrieved from hypertext transfer protocol: // 2/egc_bpcatalogue_2010-2011.pdf

Griggs, D. , Stafford-Smith, M. , Gaffney, O. , Rockstrom, J. , Ohman, M. C. , Shyamsundar, P. … Noble, I. , ( 2013 ) . Sustainable development ends for people and planet.Nature495, 305-307.

Robinson, J. , ( 2004 ) . Squaring the Circle? Some Ideas on the Idea of Sustainable Development.Ecological Economicss,48, 369-384.

Olalla-Tarraga MA . ( 2006 ) .A Conceptual Model to Assess Sustainability inUrbanecological Systems.Int J Sustain Dev World, 13, 1-15.

Mayer, A. L. , ( 2008 ) .Secondtrengths and Failings of Common Sustainability Indices for Multidimensional Systems.Environment International, 34, 277-291.


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