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


  • James Keirstead

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

  • Matt Leach

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


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.

Suggested Citation

  • James Keirstead & Matt Leach, 2008. "Bridging the gaps between theory and practice: a service niche approach to urban sustainability indicators," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(5), pages 329-340.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:sustdv:v:16:y:2008:i:5:p:329-340 DOI: 10.1002/sd.349

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:spr:qualqt:v:52:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s11135-016-0454-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. 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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