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Bridging the gaps between theory and practice: a service niche approach to urban sustainability indicators


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  • James Keirstead

    (Energy Futures Lab, Imperial College London, London, UK)

  • Matt Leach

    (Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London, London, UK)

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    Urban sustainability indicators play an important role in helping policy-makers ensure the continued success of their cities. However, a review of current practice suggests that priority is often given to the measurability and policy relevance of these metrics. Their analytical validity - i.e. their ability to act as meaningful representations of the urban system and thus inform appropriate policy responses - is less certain. An examination of London's USIs confirms this gap between theory and practice and identifies vague definitions of urban sustainability as part of the problem. A 'service niche' approach to indicator selection is therefore outlined, using pervasive goal-oriented urban services such as energy or water systems to guide the selection of policy-relevant interconnected metrics. Strategies for expanding such niches to wider assessments of urban sustainability are also discussed. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Sustainable Development.

    Volume (Year): 16 (2008)
    Issue (Month): 5 ()
    Pages: 329-340

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    Handle: RePEc:wly:sustdv:v:16:y:2008:i:5:p:329-340

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    Cited by:
    1. Pasimeni, Maria Rita & Petrosillo, Irene & Aretano, Roberta & Semeraro, Teodoro & De Marco, Antonella & Zaccarelli, Nicola & Zurlini, Giovanni, 2014. "Scales, strategies and actions for effective energy planning: A review," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 165-174.


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