Climate, Pollution and Adaptation
Chapter 8: Assessing sustainability of urban ecosystems
Examining urban areas as ecosystems and understanding the relationship and linkages between ecosystems, including the urban water environment and human well-being is essential in progressing towards sustainable urban development (Yigitcanlar, 2010a). Urban ecosystems are dynamic complex systems. Therefore, their interaction with anthropogenic activities needs to be monitored regularly. In response, sustainability assessment is increasingly being viewed as an important tool to monitor the interaction that provides comprehensive information about the state of the environment over different temporal and spatial scales. Several methods are used in the sustainability assessment and amongst them sustainability indicators and indices are the most commonly used approach for assessing the progress towards sustainable land use and urban management (Li et al., 2009). In the literature, a variety of indices are used to measure urban sustainability at the macro-scale varying from international to national and regional levels (see Yigitcanlar, 2010b). However, these studies have reported multiple barriers regarding the availability and collection of data during the indicator development process, which raised the issue of missing data treatments (Hacking and Guthrie, 2008; Singh et al., 2009). As stated by Mayer (2008), lack of data for the majority of aggregated indicators is a common weakness of all indices. Therefore, many of the sustainability indicator indices are not capable of measuring all dimensions of sustainability. This highlights the need to develop more effective approaches and solutions supporting the measurable and accessible data for indicator development.
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