Urban environmental quality and human well-being: Towards a conceptual framework and demarcation of concepts; a literature study

National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Centre for Environmental Health Research (MGO), P.O. Box 1, 3720 BA Bilthoven, The Netherlands
Landscape and Urban Planning (Impact Factor: 3.04). 09/2003; 65(1-2):5-18.


Construction of a multidisciplinary conceptual framework of environmental quality and quality of life is required to advance the field of urban development, environmental quality and human well-being. Such a framework would allow for a more theory-based choice of indicators and for the development of tools to evaluate multidimensional aspects of urban environmental quality. These tools are required to assess the current and future quality of the urban environment and to have, eventually, the ability to assess the implications of spatial and urban planning policies with respect to these dimensions. Against this background, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands (RIVM) performed a major literature review [Leidelmeijer, van Kamp, 2002, in press] to identify various concepts in the literature concerning environmental quality, the relationships between these various concepts, as well as their respective theoretical bases. This paper summarises the outcomes of this survey. It reviews the main (types of) concepts of livability, environmental quality, quality of life and sustainability, and presents examples of underlying conceptual models. Different notions and concepts are compared along the dimensions of domain, indicator, scale, time-frame and context as described by [Urban Environmental Quality—a social geographical perspective, this issue]. It is concluded that a multidisciplinary conceptual framework of environmental quality and quality of life that will go beyond the disciplinary differences found in the current literature is needed if the field is to advance.

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Available from: Irene van Kamp, Oct 09, 2015
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    • "Environmental quality specialists play an important role in providing tools that can measure and compare, both in sum and distributively across different groups, the environmental quality implications of different futures (Brown, 2003). Concepts such as livability, living quality, living environment, quality of place, residential perception and satisfaction, the evaluation of residential and living environments, quality of life and sustainability are often used as synonyms and do in fact overlapdbut every so often, they contrast with another (Van Kamp et al., 2003). The quality of urban soil should be evaluated to support public services for good environmental quality management. "
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    • "The concept of liveability has been adopted by researchers interested in people's experiences of the quality of home and community environments. Liveability has been defined as 'habitability' of an environment (Veenhoven 2000); as the degree to which resources of the place meet the needs of residents and as satisfaction with the person–environment relationship (Biswas-Diener and Diener 2009; Van Kamp et al. 2003). Van Kamp et al. (2003) argue that liveability is an assessment by individuals of environmental features most relevant to their lives. "
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