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.

Download full-text


Available from: Irene van Kamp,
  • Source
    • "However, while quality of life primarily focuses on individuals, liveability is mainly related to the environment (object) based on a human perspective. In particular, liveability theory assumes that perceived quality of life is dependent on objective qualities of landscapes in which humans live (Van Kamp et al., 2003), as first suggested by Veenhoven (1996) who defined liveability as " the degree to which the environmental provisions and requirements fit with the needs and capacities of its citizens " . This definition of liveability indicates that: (1) liveability depends on environmental characteristics, as previously noted, and that its assessment is thus strictly informative for both landscape planners and policy makers; that (2) liveability is dependent on the needs and capacities of inhabitants living in the environment who should consequently be involved in the assessment; and that (3) liveability is dependent on both services (provisions) and disservices (requirements) provided by the environment that should consequently be considered in the assessment. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: According to the anthropocentric perspective, ecosystem services (ES) can fulfil important societal needs in a similar way as urban systems, which deliver more traditional urban services (US). In this view, ES and US shape landscape liveability in a similar manner. Liveability assessments based on both ES and US importance quantification can allow for the more effective and coherent inclusion of both service typolo-gies in landscape planning and policymaking. As liveability is strongly dependent on both environmental and human factors, stakeholder involvement is essential for its assessment. Widely applicable and reliable methodologies of liveability assessment based on the perceived importance of ES and US, according to stakeholders, still need to be developed. Using this framework, we design a hierarchical classification based on The Common International Classification of Ecosystem Services (CICES) for measuring both ES and US. This classification is used to structure a model based on Saaty's Analytical Hierarchical Process (AHP) for the quantification of stakeholder views of the importance of liveability services. The model, known as the LIAM (LIveability Assessment Model), is applied to a group of stakeholders selected among local experts and landscape planners in an Umbrian study area (Italy). The results show that the LIAM approach can support landscape planning and policy making through superior ES and US integration and through more effective assessments of their perceived relevance.
    Land Use Policy 01/2016; 50:277-292. DOI:10.1016/j.landusepol.2015.09.023 · 3.13 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "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. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The cities of today present requirements that are dissimilar to those of the past. There are cities where the industrial and service sectors are in decline, and there are other cities that are just beginning their journey into the technological and industrial sectors. In general, the political and social realms have been restructured in terms of economics, which has resulted in an entirely different shape to the primitive structures of civilization. As people begin to understand the dynamic nature of landscapes, they stop seeing landscapes as a static scene. Sustainable cities must be simultaneously economically viable, socially just, politically well managed and ecologically sustainable to maximize human comfort. The present research suggests a multi-disciplinary approach for attaining a holistic understanding of urban environmental quality and human well-being in relation to sustainable urban development. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Environmental Pollution 08/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.envpol.2015.07.038 · 4.14 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "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. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: While older people live in developing countries, little is known about the relative importance of features of their communities in influencing their liveability. We examine components of home and neighbourhood among older South Africans. Linear regression analyses revealed that features of home (basic amenities, household composition, financial status and safety) and neighbourhood (ability to shop for groceries, participate in organizations and feel safe from crime) are significantly associated with life satisfaction. Approaches to liveability that are person-centred and also set within contexts beyond home and neighbourhood are needed to address boundaries between home and neighbourhood; incorporate personal resources into liveability models and import broader environmental contexts such as health and social policy.
    European Journal of Ageing 05/2015; 12(3). DOI:10.1007/s10433-015-0343-2 · 1.27 Impact Factor
Show more