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An alternative model for evaluating sustainable urbanization

Liyin Shen a, Yi Peng a,, Xiaoling Zhang b, Yuzhe Wu c
Dept. of Building and Real Estate, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Kowloon, Hong Kong, PR China
Dept. of Urban Planning and Design, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, PR China
Dept. of Land Management, Zhejiang University, Hang Zhou, PR China

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: In recent years, there has been rapid urbanization worldwide, resulting in both benets and problems.
Received 29 September 2010 Sustainable urbanization has become an important aspect in promoting sustainable development. Exist-
Received in revised form 8 June 2011 ing studies have introduced various methodologies to guide urbanization towards sustainable practices.
Accepted 24 June 2011
The application of these methods has contributed to improving urban sustainability. To further support
Available online 22 July 2011
the effective applications of the principles of sustainable urbanization, a tool is needed to evaluate
whether a particular process of urbanization is sustainable. In this paper, we introduce an alternative
model for evaluating sustainable urbanization by investigating the relationship between urbanization
Sustainable urbanization
Urban sustainability
and urban sustainability. The practice of sustainable urbanization is dened as a dynamic process that
Urban sustainability velocity (VlS) enables urban sustainability to improve or to maintain a certain level of practice. By employing this def-
Urbanization rate inition, we introduce a sustainable urbanization elasticity coefcient eSU, which is dened by two param-
Urbanization velocity (VlR) eters: urbanization velocity (VlR) and urban sustainability velocity (VlS). The sustainability of an
Sustainable urbanization elasticity urbanization process is measured by the value of eSU or read from the VlRVlS coordinate. A case study
coefcient (eSU) demonstrates the application of the measure eSU and the VlRVlS coordinate. The proposed model is an
VlRVlS coordinate effective tool to help policy makers understand whether the urbanization processes they support are sus-
tainable and thus whether to correct practices. The model also allows comparison of different urbaniza-
tion practices and thereby encourages the sharing of successful experiences.
2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Introduction able development, the problems created by urbanization have at-

tracted efforts to nd solutions from various sectors, including
Urbanization, which is dened as a movement of people from academics.
rural to urban areas with population growth equal to urban migra- The principles of sustainable development have been increas-
tion, has been one of the most prominent trends of the 20th and ingly applied across all sectors, with the development of various
21st century (Street, 1997; United Nations, 2010). According to a management systems. For example, the Building Research Estab-
report by the United Nations (2010), the ratio of urban populations lishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) (1990),
rose from 13% in 1900, to 29% in 1950, to 50% in 2009, and it is pro- the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) (1993),
jected to be 69% in 2050. Urbanization brings many benets, such and Green Star (2003) have been applied to improve environmental
as diversity, market efciency, jobs, education, and health performance. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has been pro-
improvement (Christopher, 2008; Glaeser, 1998). It is these bene- moted as a strategy to improve social sustainability (Mathias,
ts that attract a continuous ow of people from rural to urban 2005). In line with these developments, sustainable urbanization
areas. However, due to the rapid pace of urbanization, natural eco- is promoted as an important component of sustainable develop-
systems are increasingly replaced by cities (Attwell, 2000; United ment (UN-Habitat/DFID, 2002). An urbanization process that fullls
Nations Population Fund, 2007). It has been increasingly noted that the principles of sustainable development characterizes sustainable
urbanization leads to many problems, such as air and water pollu- urbanization (Roy, 2009). Governments have advocated various
tion, depletion of cultivated land due to urban sprawl, global cli- policies on sustainable urbanization, and current research has also
mate change, and others (Li, Liu, Hu, et al., 2009; Yigitcanlar, introduced various methodologies to assist in promoting sustain-
2009). These problems present barriers to achieving sustainable able urbanization. Drakakis-Smith and Dixon (1997) developed an
development. Consequently, with the global promotion of sustain- integrative framework to understand concerns regarding sustain-
able urbanization from the perspectives of economic, social,
Corresponding author. Tel.: +852 2766 5872; fax: +852 2764 5131. political, demographic, and environmental performances. A report
E-mail addresses: (L. Shen), by the UN-Habitat/DFID (2002) identied the main challenges to
(Y. Peng), (X. Zhang), (Y. Wu). achieving sustainable urbanization, including potential conicts

0264-2751/$ - see front matter 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
L. Shen et al. / Cities 29 (2012) 3239 33

between economic growth and environmental sustainability, ineq- 100

uity due to lack of political and social inclusion, inadequate gover-

Ratio of urban population (%)

nance capabilities, and difculties in achieving coordinated urban Terminal stage ?
rural development. Pivo (1996) reviewed the experience of sustain-
able urbanization in Mainstreet Cascadia and summarized six prin- 60 Acceleration stage
ciples of urban planning for promoting sustainable urbanization,
including compactness, completeness, conservation, comfort, coor- 40
dination, and collaboration. Other studies investigated how various
technological methods, such as low carbon emission, air and noise Initial stage
pollution control, and waste management contribute to urban envi-
ronmental protection and sustainable urbanization (e.g., Brown,
2008; Jenerette & Larsen, 2006; Leach, Bauen, & Lucas, 1997). In re-
cent years, advanced technologies, such as remote sensing, the Cel-
lular Automata model, the SLEUTH model, and the System Fig. 1. The urbanization process. Source: adapted from Northam (1975) and Bind
Dynamics model have been used to monitor the impact of urbani- (1980).
zation on the environment and to analyze future scenarios of
changes in land use to facilitate policy making for promoting sus-
tainable urbanization (e.g., Encalada & Caceres, 2009; Haase, Haase, banization refers to population growth in the suburbs due to urban
Kabisch, et al., 2008; Irwin, Jayaprakash, & Munroe, 2009; Jantz, expansion. Counter-urbanization occurs when urban people emi-
Goetz, & Shelley, 2003; Ward, Phinn, & Murray, 2000). grate for complex reasons, such as the inability to tolerate urban
Furthermore, various urban models have been introduced to problems, including air and water pollution. Re-urbanization refers
guide the practice of urbanization towards better sustainability. to immigration for various reasons, such as a government policy
Haughton (1999) suggested four types of urban models to contrib- that attracts people to urban areas. According to the urbanization
ute to sustainable development, namely free market, redesign- process in Fig. 1, counter-urbanization and re-urbanization are
ing, self-reliant, and fair shares city. Holden (2004) described phenomena that occur at the terminal stage of urbanization.
four models of urban development, namely urban sprawl, the As a dynamic process, urbanization brings changes of physical
green city, large (monolithic) compact city, and decentralized formation, politics, and culture to a city while satisfying the needs
concentration, with the model of decentralized concentration of an increased urban population (Pivo, 1996). Bettencourt, Lobo,
favored for better sustainability. Jabareen (2006) discussed the Helbing, et al. (2007) argued that urbanization is intimately related
models of compact city, eco-city, urban containment, and to economic development, human welfare, and profound changes
neo-traditional development and recommended applying the in social organization and patterns of human behavior, presenting
compact city model to promote sustainable urbanization. both opportunities and challenges to achieving urban sustainabil-
The above discussions show that studies have introduced vari- ity. Other studies echo this conclusion, arguing that urbanization
ous models and methods to guide the design and practice of sus- presents both benets and problems in economic, social, and eco-
tainable urbanization. Appreciation of these models and methods logical terms (Alberti & Marzluff, 2004; Christopher, 2008; Glaeser,
invites our investigation of how to evaluate their effectiveness. It 1998; Li et al., 2009; Yigitcanlar, 2009).
appears that few studies have addressed this issue, which is impor-
tant for applying effective methods and for encouraging sustain- Urban sustainability
able urbanization. Therefore, there is a need for a tool to evaluate
whether a particular practice of urbanization is sustainable. This Urban sustainability (lS) can be considered a measure for
tool should be able to incorporate the principles of sustainable assessing the extent to which a city has achieved a desirable state
urbanization with the characteristics of a particular practice of of sustainability (Banister, 1998). This state is described as a prac-
urbanization. This paper aims to develop such a tool for evaluating tice that uses resources efciently and improves the quality of life
the sustainability of urbanization. in an excellent environment within the constraints of our earth
(Banister, 1998). Therefore, the measure lS is often expressed as
a stage value to reect the sustainability of a specic city at any gi-
Urbanization and urban sustainability ven point in time, as shown in Fig. 2.
Research has been conducted on measuring urban sustainabil-
Urbanization ity by means of indicators, ow analysis models, frameworks,
and other methods (Oswald & McNeil, 2010; Waheed, Khan, &
Urbanization is dened by the United Nations as a movement of
people from rural to urban areas with population growth equal to
urban migration (United Nations, 2010). Urbanization is a dynamic 100
process involving various stages and is usually expressed with the
Ratio of urban population (%)

urbanization rate (lR). Northam (1975) depicted the urbanization 80

process as an attenuated S curve, which includes an initial stage,
an acceleration stage, and a terminal stage, as shown in Fig. 1. The 60
initial stage has a slow pace until the ratio of urban population

reaches about 30%. The acceleration stage begins with a pronounced
40 S2
pace. Urbanization reaches the terminal stage when the ratio of ur-
ban population is over 70%.
Other relevant terms of urbanization include concentrated 20 S1
urbanization, suburbanization, counter-urbanization, and re-urbani-
zation (Bind, 1980; Enyedi & Hungary, 1990). Concentrated urbani- t1 t2 ti Time
zation refers to heavy growth of urban population with similar
development of industry in the initial stage of urbanization. Subur- Fig. 2. An illustration of state change of lS in the urbanization process.
34 L. Shen et al. / Cities 29 (2012) 3239

Veitch, 2009). For example, the OECD Pressure State Response

Indicator Model (OECD, 1998) has been introduced to assess the ef-
fect of human activity on environmental quality, natural resources, SE

Economy development
and societys response to these environmental changes. Nijkamp
and Pepping (1998) introduced a Pentagon Model to address
hardware, software, nware, orgware, and ecoware as
ve major factors for implementing renewable energy technolo-
gies to achieve better urban sustainability. May, Mitchell, and
Kupiszewska (1997) introduced the Quantiable City Model to
examine urban sustainability from six perspectives: physical envi-
ronment, resources, health, security, services and infrastructure,
and community development. Ferrarini, Bodini, and Becchi urbanization
(2001) and Boggia and Cortina (2010) identied appropriate
environmental and socioeconomic indicators and then adopted Fig. 3. An illustration of relationship between economy performance and urban-
ization level.
multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) to assess the sustainability
of a particular area. These methodologies provide valuable strate-
gies for examining the relationship between urbanization and
SS(Urbanization)the social contribution to urban sustainability in the
urban sustainability.
process of urbanization
Although there is little research on the relationship between
The relationship between urbanization and urban sustainability
urbanization and social development, some studies have argued
that in its initial stage, urbanization has positive effects on social
While the methods for studying urban sustainability are vari-
aspects, including social mobilization, literacy, political participa-
ous, they embody a common principle: urban sustainability should
tion, education, income, and health (Christopher, 2008; Glaeser,
be assessed in terms of the economic, social, and ecological devel-
1998; Tanter, 1967; Udry, 1964). However, these effects become
opment of a city (Burgess, Carmona, & Kolstee, 1997; Harris, 1992;
negative when urbanization goes beyond the carrying capacity of
Marcotullio, 2001). Thus, urban sustainability integrates the sus-
a city (Sobotka, 2006). Therefore, the relationship between urban-
tainability of economic, social, and ecological development in a
ization and its social contribution is exhibited in Fig. 4.
city, and this integration can be expressed as follows:
lS SE [ SS [ SEn 1 SEn(Urbanization)the environmental contribution to urban
sustainability in the process of urbanization
where lS denotes urban sustainability, SE indicates economic sus-
Previous studies have investigated the relationship between
tainability, SS indicates social sustainability, and SEn indicates envi-
urbanization and ecological consequences. Alberti and Marzluff
ronmental sustainability.
(2004) developed a model for illustrating this relationship, as
Because urbanization is closely associated with economic, so-
shown in Fig. 5. This model suggests that ecological quality may in-
cial, and ecological development in a city, it is the key variable
crease in the initial stage of urbanization due to the benets cre-
determining the performance of urban sustainability. Accordingly,
ated by urban agglomerations, but quality decreases from
Formula (1) can be rewritten as:
environmental degradation induced by rapid urbanization. With-
lS SE Urbanization [ SS Urbanization [ SEn Urbanization 2 out external intervention, the deterioration would continue, result-
ing in the citys demolition or abandonment. However, because
where SE(Urbanization) indicates the economic contribution to ur-
urban development is guided by policies, ecological quality can
ban sustainability in the process of urbanization, SS(Urbanization)
be improved and maintained at a certain level through policy
denotes the social contribution, and SEn(Urbanization) indicates
the environmental contribution.
By considering the curves SE, SS, and SEn in Figs. 35, an inte-
grated curve is obtained, as shown in Fig. 6, which presents the
SE(Urbanization)the economic contribution to urban sustainability
relationship between urban sustainability and urbanization if
in the process of urbanization
urbanization is practiced sustainably. In the initial stage, the im-
It is widely understood that urbanization is the major driver of a
pact of urbanization on economic and social development is low,
citys economic development (e.g., Kasarda & Crenshaw, 1991;
and therefore, urban sustainability is low, although ecological
Scott & Storper, 2003). Berry (1973) suggested that there is a close
performance may be comparatively high. When urbanization
relationship between GNP per capita and urbanization. According
to this study, GNP per capita, as a major indicator of economic
development, grows at an increasing rate that drives the initial
stage of urbanization due to the benets brought by urban agglom- SS
erations. Moreover, researchers know that even the later stages of
urbanization, which consist of urban concentration, can strongly
Social development

affect economic development (Henderson, 2003). Henderson

(2003) also found that although rapid urbanization can bring neg-
ative social and environmental consequences, which further weak-
en economic development, planned urbanization based on the size
and development level of the city can balance the gains and losses
of economic development. Therefore, the relationship between
urbanization and its economic contribution can be depicted graph-
ically, as shown in Fig. 3. The relationship indicates that economies
grow slowly and even stop growing at a certain level because the
impact of urban agglomeration decreases in the later stages of Fig. 4. An illustration of relationship between social performance and urbanization
urbanization. level.
L. Shen et al. / Cities 29 (2012) 3239 35

Ecological quality examine whether a process of urbanization is sustainable by col-

lectively considering the values of the stages of urbanization and
Planned development the value of urban sustainability lS. Therefore, a sustainable pro-
Sprawling development cess of urbanization can be dened as a dynamic process that en-
ables urban sustainability to improve or to maintain a certain level
S En
of practice in the course of urbanization.

Methodology for evaluating sustainable urbanization

Based on the ideas above, whether an urbanization process is

sustainable may be assessed by using the measures of the stages
of urbanization (lR) and urban sustainability (lS). In this context,
urbanization the evaluation methodology involves three steps, exhibited by a
ow chart as shown in Fig. 7.
Fig. 5. An illustration of relationship between ecological performance and urban-
ization level. Source: adopted from Alberti and Marzluff (2004).
Step 1: measure the stages of urbanization (lR)

The stage of urbanization is usually dened by the rate of

S urbanization (lR) (Henderson & Wang, 2004; Williamson, 1965).
It is acceptable to measure lR according to the ratio of people living
in urban areas to the total population of the study area (Tisdale,
1942; Williamson, 1965; Zhang & Song, 2003). However, the de-
nition of urban area varies among nations. For example, in Canada,
an urban area must have a population of at least 1000 and no fewer
than 400 persons per square kilometer (Statistics Canada, 2007). In
China, an urban area is an urban district, city or town with a pop-
ulation density higher than 1500 people per square kilometer (Liu,
Li, & Zhang, 2003). We adopt the denition specied by the United
Nations, according to which an urban area encompasses more than
20,000 people (Kasarda & Crenshaw, 1991).
When lR is measured according to the ratio of people living in
Fig. 6. An illustration of the relationship between urbanization level and urban urban areas to total people, it represents a value of a stage. In other
sustainability. words, there is a specic value of lR at a given time in the process
of urbanization. The signicance of a change in population during a
particular period of time, for example, from t1 to t2, can be mea-
continues, its effect on the economy, society, and environment in-
sured by a calculation of urbanization velocity (VlR) through the
creases; thus, urban sustainability increases. However, the
following Formula (3).
improvement of sustainability becomes slower in the stage of rapid
urbanization because ecological quality decreases signicantly at lRt2  lRt1 DlR
this stage. Thereafter, sustainability maintains a certain level as V lR 3
t2  t1 Dt
necessary policy interventions are introduced to improve the dete-
riorating ecological situation. The hypothetical curve in Fig. 6 pro- where VlR is the urbanization velocity, lRt and lRt are the values
1 2

vides a useful framework for conducting further analysis on of stages lR at time t1 and t2, respectively. Furthermore, DlR is the
sustainable urbanization. increment of the rate of urbanization in a specied time interval,
while t1 and t2 are the observed points in time, and Dt is the incre-
Sustainable urbanization ment of the time interval.

The discussions in previous sections suggest that urbanization

is a dynamic process that has major effects on economic, social,
and environmental performances of urban areas and that it plays R
an essential role in implementing the principles of sustainable
development. Therefore, sustainable urbanization is introduced
to describe a process of urbanization that fullls the principles of
sustainable development (Roy, 2009). This process is also a strat-
egy for policy intervention to achieve better sustainability in
urbanization. However, there are few studies on the methodology
for assessing whether a particular process of urbanization is sus-
tainable or consistent with the principles of sustainable develop-
ment. To nd an effective method of assessment, a proper
understanding of the denition of sustainable urbanization needs
to be established rst.
Because urbanization is a dynamic process, the performance of
its sustainability varies at different stages of the process. Previous
studies suggest that an effective way of evaluating a dynamic pro-
cess is to compare different values of stages in the process (e.g.,
Harvey, 1973; Smith, 1984). Consistent with this, it is possible to Fig. 7. Procedure for evaluating the sustainability of urbanization.
36 L. Shen et al. / Cities 29 (2012) 3239

Step 2: measure urban sustainability (lS) (1) Quadrant (I): sustainable urbanization

The measure of lS has been introduced in Formula (1), and lS is Quadrant (I) represents these relationships: VlR > 0 and VlS > 0.
used to measure the extent to which a city has achieved a desirable This is considered a sustainable urbanization practice, where
stage of sustainability (Banister, 1998). While previous studies VlR > 0 indicates urbanization growth, while VlS > 0 suggests
have introduced various measurements for urban sustainability, improvement of urban sustainability. In this context, the urbaniza-
the most effective is an index value by using a set of indicators tion process is able to achieve sustainability and is therefore sus-
(Gasparatos, El-Haram, & Horner, 2008). It is known that indicators tainable urbanization.
can present relevant information in an effective form to facilitate
communication among experts, policy makers, and the public (2) Quadrant (II): sustainable counter-urbanization
(Alberti, 1996). Effective communication on the state of urban sus-
tainability is essential, particularly for the public. Only efforts Quadrant (II) shows these relationships: VlR < 0 and VlS > 0.
shared by the public and other stakeholders can result in achieving Although there is counter-urbanization, the practice is considered
sustainable urbanization strategies (Enserink & Koppenjan, 2007). sustainable. The relationship VlR < 0 indicates a counter-urbaniza-
The value of lS for particular cities can be measured with the indi- tion process, while VlS > 0 indicates improvement of urban sus-
cator system developed in studies, for example, the International tainability. Counter-urbanization may be necessary to solve
Urban Sustainability Indicator List developed by Shen, Ochoa, Shah, certain urban problems and to improve urban sustainability. If ur-
et al. (2011). ban sustainability is improved, the counter-urbanization process is
The value of lS varies in the process of urbanization, as exhib- a sustainable practice. This phenomenon occurs in areas where so-
ited in Fig. 2, and it can be assessed at any given point in time. cial and ecological problems are alleviated because urban people
When the time interval from t1 to t2 is considered, the change of move away or the urban populations birth rate decreases.
urban sustainability can be examined by the velocity of urban sus-
tainability, which is calculated according to the following Formula (3) Quadrant (III): unsustainable counter-urbanization
Quadrant (III) represents these relationships: VlR < 0 and
lSt2  lSt1 Dl S VlS < 0. The practice in this quadrant refers to a process of coun-
V lS 4
t2  t1 Dt ter-urbanization and an unsustainable practice. The relationship
VlR < 0 implies a process of counter-urbanization, while VlS < 0
where VlS is the velocity of urban sustainability, lSt and lSt repre- indicates that urban sustainability is declining in the process of
1 2
sent urban sustainability with lS at time t1 and t2, and DlS indicates urbanization. The practice in this quadrant is more likely to occur
the increment of urbanization sustainability in the specied time in urban areas whose carrying capacity has been destroyed and is
interval, while t1 and t2 are the observed points in time and Dt rep- unrecoverable, for example, as a result of wars or natural disasters,
resents the increment of the time interval. and therefore, urban people move away and abandon the urban

Step 3: evaluate the performance of sustainability in urbanization

(4) Quadrant (IV): unsustainable urbanization

As dened earlier in this paper, sustainable urbanization enables

Quadrant (IV) represents these relationships: VlR > 0 and
urban sustainability to improve or to maintain a certain level. Evalu-
VlS < 0. The practice in this quadrant is unsustainable urbanization,
ation of sustainable urbanization must collectively consider
where VlR > 0 indicates urbanization growth, while VlS < 0 denotes
changes in the rate of urbanization (VlR) and changes in urban sus-
declining urban sustainability. In this context, the process of
tainability (VlS). Because VlR and VlS can assume various values,
urbanization deviates from the sustainable development practice
there are different scenarios for evaluating the sustainability of
and is thus unsustainable urbanization.
urbanization, and the analysis of these scenarios can be conducted
in a VlRVlS coordinate as shown in Fig. 8. In this gure, there are
four types of scenarios located in four quadrants, which can be The sustainable urbanization elasticity coefcient
analyzed as follows:
To further understand the application of the VlRVlS coordinate
(Fig. 8), an alternative measure, called the sustainable urbanization
elasticity coefcient eSU, is used to evaluate the performance of
sustainability in urbanization. By referring to the concept of elas-
ticity in economics, the sustainable urbanization elasticity coef-
cient eSU can be obtained by examining the ratio between the
changes of urbanization rate (VlR or DlR) and the changes of urban
sustainability (VlS or DlS), as shown in Formula (5).
V lS
eSU DDlt 5
Dl R Dt
R V lR

where eSU measures the improvement of urban sustainability in the

process of urbanization, eSU reects the extent of improvement in
urban sustainability induced by urbanization, which can be positive
or negative. A particular value of eSU can be interpreted by referring
to the coordinate VlRVlS.
When eSU > 0, there are two possible scenarios: (a) VlR > 0 and
VlS > 0, which is the scenario in quadrant (I) in the VlRVlS coordi-
Fig. 8. The VlRVlS coordinate for evaluating the sustainability of urbanization. nate in Fig. 8 and reects a sustainable process of urbanization, and
L. Shen et al. / Cities 29 (2012) 3239 37

(b) VlR < 0 and VlS < 0, which is the scenario in quadrant (III) in the Table 2
coordinate and indicates an unsustainable process of counter- The urbanization rate lR for the four cities in the case study between 1995 and 2000.
Source: National Bureau of Statistics of China, China City Statistical Yearbook (1996
urbanization. However, when eSU < 0, there are also two possible 2001)
scenarios: (a) VlR < 0 and VlS > 0, which is the scenario in quadrant
(II) in the VlRVlS coordinate, indicating a sustainable process of City 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000

counter-urbanization, and (b) VlR > 0 and VlS < 0, which is the sce- Qi 0.691 0.7 0.709 0.721 0.726 0.744
nario in quadrant (IV) in the coordinate, indicating an unsustain- Ma 0.774 0.775 0.774 0.779 0.787 0.791
Ta 0.14 0.144 0.156 0.17 0.184 0.193
able process of urbanization. Wu 0.886 0.876 0.824 0.81 0.81 0.845
Formulas (3)(5) form a model for evaluating the sustainability
of urbanization. The eSU and the VlRVlS coordinate are tools to Note. Urbanization rate was measured by the ratio of non-agricultural population to
total population in the context of China.
evaluate whether a particular process of urbanization is consistent
with sustainable practices. The higher eSU, the better sustainability
of the process of urbanization for the scenarios in quadrants (I) and
Table 3
VUR, VUS and eSU for the four cities in the case study between 1995 and 2000.
The implications of urbanization can also be interpreted in
other terms, such as the physical growth of urban areas as a result City VlR VlS eSU

of global change (Bhatta, 2010). Cam, Nichols, Sauer, et al. (2000) Qi 0.011 0.022 2.08
suggested measuring rates of urbanization by index, for example, Ma 0.003 0.026 7.65
Ta 0.011 0.018 1.7
according to the ratio of urban land coverage. However, the devel-
Wu 0.008 0.018 2.2
oped evaluation model in this study provides a general framework
for measuring the sustainability of urbanization, which will follow
the same procedures dened in the model when working with dif-
ferent interpretations of urbanization and urbanization rate. The 2000. Of these cities, Wu experienced a decrease in urban popula-
model is validated as long as urbanization continues, and rates of tion, while the other three cities evidenced population growth.
urbanization can be measured accordingly. Furthermore, the value eSU in Table 3 allows comparison of
urbanization sustainability among the four cities between 1995
and 2000. In the table, the eSU is 7.65 for Ma, 2.2 for Wu, 2.08
for Qi and 1.7 for Ta. Ma has the highest improvement in the per-
Application of the model for evaluating sustainable
formance of sustainable urbanization, a nding that is consistent
with the results of Van Dijk and Zhang (2005).
Qi with eSU of 2.08, is a coastal city in a relatively developed area
A designated case study illustrates how to apply the model for
in China. Its pillar industry used to be the citys harbor and tourism.
evaluating sustainable urbanization introduced in the previous
However, the local authorities of Qi have shifted its development
section. To apply the model, data for the two parameters, namely
policy toward industrialization and urbanization since 1998. The
urbanization rate lR and urban sustainability lS, are needed. To
citys urbanization grew between 1995 and 2000, and its urban
simplify the discussion while preserving a general focus, the data
sustainability improved in this period due to economic and social
in this designated case of lS are collected from results of urban sus-
development. Therefore, urbanization in Qi during the study period
tainability assessments established by other researchers, and the
was consistent with sustainable practices.
data for lR are collected from published reports of statistics.
Ma is an inland city in a relatively developed area, and the chief
The results of urban sustainability assessments performed by
industry is steel. This city, located in Anhui Province, is reported to
Van Dijk and Zhang (2005) are included. In their study, urban sus-
be well managed since 1989 and received a prize for being a na-
tainability lS for four medium-sized Chinese cities was calculated
tional model of urban environmental protection in 2006 (BEPPRC,
for the period between 1995 and 2000, including Qinhuangdao (Qi)
2006, Anhui Development, 2008). Table 1 shows that the urban
in Hebei province, Maanshan (Ma) in Anhui province, Taizhou (Ta)
sustainability of Ma improved during the study period. The urban-
in Zhejiang province and Wuhai (Wu) in the Inner Mongolia Auton-
ization rate did not change much in the period. Therefore, the eSU
omous Region. The assessment results are shown in Table 1. How-
was very high; in fact, it was the highest of the four cities exam-
ever, the data for the urbanization rates lR for these four cities are
ined, indicating good improvement in sustainability performance.
available from the statistics bureaus for the period from 1995 to
Ta is a coastal city in a developed area of China, with the
2000, which are shown in Table 2.
chemical and medical industries dominating. It was the wealthiest
By applying the data in Tables 1 and 2 to Formulas (3)(5), the
city in the study. Its urban sustainability improved during the
VlR, the VlS, and the eSU can be calculated. The calculation results
study period, while its rate of urbanization did not change much.
are shown in Table 3.
By applying the VlRVlS coordinate presented in Fig. 8, the VlR
and VlS of the four cities can be allocated in the coordinate, as
shown in Fig. 9. Based on discussions in the previous section of 0.03
the four scenarios in the four quadrants, the processes of urbaniza-
tion in all four cities are considered sustainable between 1995 and

0.02 Qi
Table 1 0.015
The urban sustainability lS for the four cities in the case study between 1995 and
2000. Source: calculation based on Van Dijk and Zhang (2005). Wu
City 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 0.005

Qi 0.342 0.368 0.382 0.421 0.421 0.447 0

Ma 0.408 0.434 0.447 0.513 0.513 0.539 -0.01 -0.005 0 0.005 0.01 0.015
Ta 0.316 0.368 0.355 0.355 0.395 0.408 Vur
Wu 0.237 0.224 0.289 0.303 0.316 0.329
Fig. 9. The comparison of the sustainability of urbanization for the four cities.
38 L. Shen et al. / Cities 29 (2012) 3239

Therefore, the city achieved good sustainability elasticity in its environmental backgrounds, the sharing of experiences should be
urbanization process, with the eSU value of 1.7. encouraged. The proposed model also allows comparison of vari-
Wu is an inland city in a relatively undeveloped area with pri- ous processes of urbanization and thus encourages the sharing of
mary industries of coal mining and livestock farming. The citys experiences from different practices.
coal mining had produced signicant employment, and thus its
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