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Title: The relationship between settlement population size and sustainable development measured by two sustainability metrics

Abstract

This paper reports on a study of the relative sustainability of 79 Irish villages, towns and a small city (collectively called 'settlements') classified by population size. Quantitative data on more than 300 economic, social and environmental attributes of each settlement were assembled into a database. Two aggregated metrics were selected to model the relative sustainability of settlements: Ecological Footprint (EF) and Sustainable Development Index (SDI). Subsequently these were aggregated to create a single Combined Sustainable Development Index. Creation of this database meant that metric calculations did not rely on proxies, and were therefore considered to be robust. Methods employed provided values for indicators at various stages of the aggregation process. This allowed both the first reported empirical analysis of the relationship between settlement sustainability and population size, and the elucidation of information provided at different stages of aggregation. At the highest level of aggregation, settlement sustainability increased with population size, but important differences amongst individual settlements were masked by aggregation. EF and SDI metrics ranked settlements in differing orders of relative sustainability. Aggregation of indicators to provide Ecological Footprint values was found to be especially problematic, and this metric was inadequately sensitive to distinguish amongst the relative sustainability achieved bymore » all settlements. Many authors have argued that, for policy makers to be able to inform planning decisions using sustainability indicators, it is necessary that they adopt a toolkit of aggregated indicators. Here it is argued that to interpret correctly each aggregated metric value, policy makers also require a hierarchy of disaggregated component indicator values, each explained fully. Possible implications for urban planning are briefly reviewed.« less

Authors:
 [1]; ; ;  [2]
  1. Centre for Environmental Research, Chemical and Environmental Sciences Department, University of Limerick (Ireland), E-mail: bernadette.oregan@ul.ie
  2. Centre for Environmental Research, Chemical and Environmental Sciences Department, University of Limerick (Ireland)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
21180419
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Environmental Impact Assessment Review; Journal Volume: 29; Journal Issue: 3; Other Information: DOI: 10.1016/j.eiar.2008.08.002; PII: S0195-9255(08)00120-0; Copyright (c) 2008 Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam, The Netherlands, All rights reserved; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; AGGLOMERATION; ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENTS; ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION; IRELAND; METRICS; PLANNING; SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT; URBAN AREAS

Citation Formats

O'Regan, Bernadette, Morrissey, John, Foley, Walter, and Moles, Richard. The relationship between settlement population size and sustainable development measured by two sustainability metrics. United States: N. p., 2009. Web. doi:10.1016/j.eiar.2008.08.002.
O'Regan, Bernadette, Morrissey, John, Foley, Walter, & Moles, Richard. The relationship between settlement population size and sustainable development measured by two sustainability metrics. United States. doi:10.1016/j.eiar.2008.08.002.
O'Regan, Bernadette, Morrissey, John, Foley, Walter, and Moles, Richard. 2009. "The relationship between settlement population size and sustainable development measured by two sustainability metrics". United States. doi:10.1016/j.eiar.2008.08.002.
@article{osti_21180419,
title = {The relationship between settlement population size and sustainable development measured by two sustainability metrics},
author = {O'Regan, Bernadette and Morrissey, John and Foley, Walter and Moles, Richard},
abstractNote = {This paper reports on a study of the relative sustainability of 79 Irish villages, towns and a small city (collectively called 'settlements') classified by population size. Quantitative data on more than 300 economic, social and environmental attributes of each settlement were assembled into a database. Two aggregated metrics were selected to model the relative sustainability of settlements: Ecological Footprint (EF) and Sustainable Development Index (SDI). Subsequently these were aggregated to create a single Combined Sustainable Development Index. Creation of this database meant that metric calculations did not rely on proxies, and were therefore considered to be robust. Methods employed provided values for indicators at various stages of the aggregation process. This allowed both the first reported empirical analysis of the relationship between settlement sustainability and population size, and the elucidation of information provided at different stages of aggregation. At the highest level of aggregation, settlement sustainability increased with population size, but important differences amongst individual settlements were masked by aggregation. EF and SDI metrics ranked settlements in differing orders of relative sustainability. Aggregation of indicators to provide Ecological Footprint values was found to be especially problematic, and this metric was inadequately sensitive to distinguish amongst the relative sustainability achieved by all settlements. Many authors have argued that, for policy makers to be able to inform planning decisions using sustainability indicators, it is necessary that they adopt a toolkit of aggregated indicators. Here it is argued that to interpret correctly each aggregated metric value, policy makers also require a hierarchy of disaggregated component indicator values, each explained fully. Possible implications for urban planning are briefly reviewed.},
doi = {10.1016/j.eiar.2008.08.002},
journal = {Environmental Impact Assessment Review},
number = 3,
volume = 29,
place = {United States},
year = 2009,
month = 4
}
  • This paper investigates the relationships between settlement size, functionality, geographic location and sustainable development. Analysis was carried out on a sample of 79 Irish settlements, located in three regional clusters. Two methods were selected to model the level of sustainability achieved in settlements, namely, Metabolism Accounting and Modelling of Material and Energy Flows (MA) and Sustainable Development Index Modelling. MA is a systematic assessment of the flows and stocks of material within a system defined in space and time. The metabolism of most settlements is essentially linear, with resources flowing through the urban system. The objective of this research onmore » material and energy flows was to provide information that might aid in the development of a more circular pattern of urban metabolism, vital to sustainable development. In addition to MA, a set of forty indicators were identified and developed. These target important aspects of sustainable development: transport, environmental quality, equity and quality of life issues. Sustainability indices were derived through aggregation of indicators to measure dimensions of sustainable development. Similar relationships between settlement attributes and sustainability were found following both methods, and these were subsequently integrated to provide a single measure. Analysis identified those attributes of settlements preventing, impeding or promoting progress towards sustainability.« less
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