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Tomorrow's City Today: Eco-City Indicators, Standards and Frameworks. Bellagio Conference Report

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... Monitoring is about identifying trends, threats and progress, and generally built around the tracking of indicators. Outcome indicators have an important role to play in any sustainability assessment, as they allow study of the evolution of key social and environmental concerns across time; many lend themselves to cross-city comparisons (Joss, 2012). ...
Article
The sustainability performance of cities is subject to an ever-growing number of monitoring tools. While most initiatives work with outcome indicators that are generally associated with limited direct policy relevance, a minority of tools focuses on sustainability-related processes and particularly local government policies. In this article, we explore the benefits, limitations and conditions under which this approach can function. While several process-oriented tools offered to European local governments have lacked participation and foundered, the Local Sustainability Meter (LSM) has been widely used in the Netherlands, with close to 90% of all Dutch municipalities participating since 1999 in some of its multi-year editions. An evaluative case study presented in this article shows that the LSM stimulated competition for policy performance, conceptual learning and the strengthening of local governance and inter-municipal networks. The LSM's design choices of combining voluntary, transparent self-assessments at periodic intervals with public rankings and awards proved to be an effective – and economic – way of disseminating sustainability policies. Its limitations include an inherent focus on generic, standardized policy prescriptions and little knowledge on actual sustainability outcomes. These findings are relevant for policy-makers and developers of (local) sustainability monitoring tools. This study contributes to the growing literature on (i) sustainability policies and (ii) municipal monitoring and ranking tools.
... Apart from the indicators on low-carbon development focus, there are other similar indicator systems developed for the LCC in the past decades, for instance the Global City Indicators [36], Siemens Green City Index [37], Sustainable Cities Index [38], Eco cities indicator [39][40][41], Urban Sustainability Index [42], and European Smart City [43], and others. Table 2 Similar concepts to LCC. ...
Article
Many cities are pursuing the low-carbon practices to reduce CO2 and other environmental emissions. However, it is still unclear which aspects a low-carbon city (LCC) covers and how to quantify and certify its low carbon level. In this paper, an indicator framework for the evaluation of LCC was established from the perspectives of Economic, Energy pattern, Social and Living, Carbon and Environment, Urban mobility, Solid waste, and Water. A comprehensive evaluation method was employed for LCC ranking by using the entropy weighting factor method. The benchmark values for LCC certification were also identified. The framework was applied to 10 global cities to rank their low-carbon levels. The comparison of cities at different levels of economic, social, and environmental development enhances the holistic of the study. The results showed that Stockholm, Vancouver, and Sydney ranked higher than the benchmark value, indicating these cities achieved a high level of low-carbon development. São Paulo, London, and Mexico City are still in the slow transition towards LCC. Beijing and New York each has much lower LCC level than the benchmark value due to the poor environmental performance and infrastructure supports caused by intensive human activities. The proposed indicator system serves as a guideline for the standardization of LCC and further identifies the key aspects of low-carbon management for different cities.
... The eco-city concept is continuously being developed through influences from fields such as urban ecology, appropriate technology, community economic development, social ecology, the green movement, bioregionalism, sustainable development and low-carbon economy (Roseland, 1997). There isn't a clear-cut and universal definition, principle, model or content for the notion of eco-city, however the latest reports have been increasingly focused on finding clearer, more detailed and technical solutions to implement the concept through designing and use of indicators, standards, and frameworks (Bulkeley, 2006;Fook & Gang, 2010;Gaffron, Huismans, & Skala, 2005, 2008Joss, 2012;Ooi, 2005;Wong & Yuen, 2011). Using the eco-city concept in the way we plan and build our cities is believed to be an important solution to tackling the challenges and problems caused by urbanization. ...
Article
China is experiencing rapid urbanization, which increasingly brings pressure on the ambient environment of local cities as well as the resources and ecology of the globe. Hence the Chinese government has been taking vigorous efforts in developing eco-cities across the nation to pursue sustainable development. This study reviews the development of the eco-city framework of the national government of China, and investigates the quality of Chinese eco-cities through an international case-study comparative analysis. The two cases, Suzhou (China) and Kitakyushu (Japan) are both honored as the best practice of eco-cities in their respective countries. The comparative analysis uses 19 indicators of the Chinese national eco-city framework. Results show that Suzhou has made remarkable progress in green space creation and environmental infrastructure construction. However, huge gaps in various indicators, especially the environmental quality performances, reveal the poor levels of pollution in Chinese cities, even in the so-called eco-cities. The rural-urban disparity and the energy consumption efficiency also call for more attention. Recommendations are made for the eco-city framework including raising the environmental standards, setting up a re-examination system in order to ensure the environmental quality, incorporating indicators related to waste recycling, and designing a new set of indicators for the social aspect.
... A myriad of assessment methods are available; e.g. life-cycle assessment (LCA), sustainable-cities indices, sustainability-assessment projects, assessment frameworks, rating-system methods and certification systems (Paranagamage et al. 2010;Joss 2012;Gil and Duarte 2013), all with varying resolution, scope and application areas. During the last decade, a number of well-known international assessment tools have been developed and some have expanded the scale of assessment from buildings to urban development Murayama 2013, 2014 ...
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Cities are responsible for the depletion of natural resources and agricultural lands, and 70% of global CO2 emissions. There are significant risks to cities fromthe impacts of climate change in addition to existing vulnerabilities, primarily because of rapid urbanization. Urban design and development are generally considered as the instrument to shape the future of the city and they determine the pattern of a city's resource usage and resilience to change, from climate or otherwise. Cities are inherently dynamic and require the participation and engagement of their diverse stakeholders for the effective management of change, which enables wider stakeholder involvement and buy-in at various stages of the development process. Sustainability assessment of urban design and development is increasingly being seen as indispensable for informed decision-making. A sustainability assessment tool also acts as a driver for the uptake of sustainable pathways by recognizing excellence through their rating system and by creating a market demand for sustainable products and processes. This research reviews six widely used sustainability assessment tools for urban design and development: BREEAM Communities, LEED-ND, CASBEE-UD, SBToolPT–UP, Pearl Community Rating System(PCRS) and GSAS/QSAS, to identify, compare and contrast; the aim, structure, assessment methodology, scoring, weighting and suitability for application in different geographical contexts. Strengths and weaknesses of each tool are critically discussed. The study highlights the disparity in local and international contexts for global sustainability assessment tools. Despite their similarities in aimon environmental aspects, differences exist in the relative importance and share of mandatory vs optional indicators in both environmental and social dimensions. PCRS and GSAS/QSAS are new incarnations, but have widely varying shares of mandatory indicators, at 45.4% and 11.36% respectively, compared to 30% in BREEAM Community. Considerations of economic and cultural aspects are only marginal in the reviewed sustainability assessment tools. However, the newly developed sustainability assessment tools such as GSAS/QSAS and PCRS diverge from their predecessors in their consideration of cultural aspects.
Chapter
Elaborating increasing penchant for smart cities, this chapter takes into account linkages between urbanization and sustainable development to evaluate the concept of sustainable urban development along with brief appraisal of prevalent notions of cities like livable cities, eco-cities and their related components that make city life worth living. Thereafter, the study proceeds to examine prospects of sustainable smart cities, with specific focus on its constituents like smart mobility, smart economy, smart living, smart people, smart governance and smart environment. While assessing options available for cities to tackle the vagaries of climate change, the chapter seeks to present a case for ecosystem-based adaptation as a cost-effective, viable and durable option to deal with adverse impacts of climate change. Lastly, it suggests the implementation of New Urban Agenda of the UN-Habitat in tandem with sustainable development goal-11 as a way out.
Chapter
Nineteenth century, the City Beautiful Movement, known as the “white movement,” contributed to the urban design system and attached importance to the cityscape. At the end of the twentieth century, the “green movement” became popular and urban development. More and more countries now attach importance to the planning issues of ecological and livable cities. Under the vision of the “green movement,” a lot of similar urban development being discussed, such as sustainable development, environmental coexistence, sustainable cities, compact cities, healthy cities, quality of life, intermediate cities, eco-cities, shan-shui cities, and so on. The thinking of green city planning were integrated into these series of developmental strategies. An ideal green city is aimed to achieve via the vision, strategy and planning, based on ecological environment approach.In this chapter, the concept of green city and the theories of developmental strategies are discussed, and the policy of promoting a green city is expounded.
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The development of aerotropolis around the megacities of the world is all together a recent conceptualization to build smart cities with sharp focus of eco-innovation and green economy. In a modern aerotropolis, the infrastructure is so built that it connects the megacity with massive road, transport systems and ICT (i.e. The Internet of Things) network in one hand; provides key linkages and services for the international businesses on the other hand. In recognition to these emerging modern trends sub-serving the growing interests of the fast changing lifestyle, this paper is dedicated to discuss and showcase the recent eco-innovations made in developing eco-cities, ecotownships and the aerotropolis world over on a selective case study basis.
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The ‘eco-city,’ and related concepts and practices of ‘sustainable urbanism,’ have since the early 2000s gained growing international popularity and entered mainstream policy as a consequence of the forceful combination of global climate change concerns and a rapidly urbanizing world population. Sustainable urbanism engages with various aspects of environmental, economic, and social sustainability concerning the urban context. Eco-cities are initiatives that variably promote and pursue sustainable development in relation to urban infrastructure, services, and community at district, town, or metropolitan levels. Governance challenges involved include effective coordination of innovation, planning, and development across policy sectors; integration across urban scales; and engagement with stakeholders and communities. The need for global sustainable city frameworks and standards becomes more apparent as both the number of practical initiatives and international cooperation increase.
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This research report provides a conceptual and empirical overview of the emerging field of eco-city frameworks. It conceptualises the rise of indicators, standards and frameworks for sustainable urban development from the twin perspective of innovation and governance. The empirical research encompasses over 40 frameworks used globally. The report concludes with a series of policy, practice and research learnings. The volume is based on a three-year international research project funded by the Leverhulme Trust.
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According to the most recent (2011) global census of eco-city initiatives, there are currently 178 eco-city initiatives under development, representing a significant mainstreaming of urban sustainability in the last decade. As the number of eco-city initiatives grows, so the question of how to define eco-city indicators and establish standards becomes more pressing. While there are many sustainability standards and certification schemes available for use at building level (e.g. LEED, BREEAM), similar sustainability assessment and endorsement frameworks for the urban level have only recently begun to emerge. This article surveys the current situation by: (i) proposing a conceptual model of urban sustainability indicators from a governance perspective; (ii) presenting the findings of a comparative analysis of the use of urban sustainability indicators in nine eco-city initiatives; and (iii) outlining key challenges for the future development of international urban sustainability standards. It argues that the current situation is marked by a considerable diversity of practice and governance functions, and an ongoing tension between place-specificity and universal applicability as goals of urban sustainability.
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Taking inspiration from the forthcoming Rio+20 Conference in Brazil, this paper reflects upon the roles of power and knowledge in developing indicators for sustainable local development. Are indicators, the evidence they privilege, and the policies that follow from them consistent with the stated goals of sustainable development? Are they merely bureaucratic tick-boxes that enable the measurement of “progress”? Or, similarly, do they represent “knowledge modernization” whereby sustainable development can be measured objectively, like GDP? We will examine three points relating to these questions: (1) the increasing standardisation and mobility of sustainable development indicators; (2) the increasing prominence and types of “evidence” that inform sustainable development policy, and (3) the role of experts in determining the parameters of sustainable development. We argue that the development and use of indicators have become a technocratic practice that serves as a buffer between the “political” and the “rational” and thus de-politicises and restricts local sustainable development agendas, despite the inherently political nature of environmental problems and values.
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This paper proposes a methodology for establishing a set of sustainability indicators as a baseline to measure the state of a city, and after appropriate actions are taken, to assess performance, to determine if changes point to improvements regarding goals. The methodology starts with choosing a procedure for identification, scope, evaluation, and level of indicators to build the initial dataset. As a second step, produces a reduced set of indicators, complying with all criteria imposed, and selected under the condition of extracting the maximum amount of information from the initial dataset.
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Scenarios are a useful tool to help think about and visualise the future and, as such, are utilised by many policymakers and practitioners. Future scenarios have not been used to explore the urban context in much depth, yet have the potential to provide valuable insights into the robustness of decisions being made today in the name of sustainability. As part of a major research project entitled Urban Futures, a toolkit has been developed in the UK to facilitate the use of scenarios in any urban context and at any scale relevant to that context. The toolkit comprises two key components, namely, (i) a series of indicators comprising both generic and topic area-specific indicators (e.g., air quality, biodiversity, density, water) that measure sustainability performance and (ii) a list of characteristics (i.e., 1–2- sentence statements about a feature, issue or small set of issues) that describe four future scenarios. In combination, these two components enable us to measure the performance of any given sustainability indicator, and establish the relative sensitivity or vulnerability of that indicator to the different future scenarios. An important aspect of the methodology underpinning the toolkit is that it is flexible enough to incorporate new scenarios, characteristics and indicators, thereby allowing the long-term performance of our urban environments to be considered in the broadest possible sense.
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Efforts to innovate in urban sustainability have in recent decades culminated in a new phenomenon: eco-cities. In recognition of the key role played by cites both as the cause of, and potential solution to, global climate change and rapid urbanisation, the concept and practice of eco-cities have since the early 2000s gained global significance and become increasingly mainstream in policy-making. This study provides an analysis of contemporary eco-city developments by systematically mapping some 79 recent initiatives at global level; evaluating key characteristics (including development type, phase and implementation mode) and discussing the factors (such as technological development, cultural branding, and political leadership) that drive and condition innovation in this area. The article concludes by outlining a research agenda for addressing both the challenges and opportunities of future eco-city governance.
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