Assessment of sustainable development: A case study of Wuhan as a pilot city in Chinaby Xiaohong Chen, Xiang Liu, Dongbin Hu

Ecological Indicators

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Year
2015
DOI
10.1016/j.ecolind.2014.11.002
Subject
Decision Sciences (all) / Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics / Ecology

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Ecological Indicators 50 (2015) 206–214

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Ecological I journa l home page : www.e l sA R T I C L E I N F O

Article history:

Received 6 December 2013

Received in revised form 29 October 2014

Accepted 3 November 2014

Keywords:

Sustainable development

Environmental friendly

Resource conserving

Vector angle

Euclidean distance

China

A B S T R A C T

Building resource-conserving and environmental-friendly society (referred to as “two-oriented society”,

TOS) is an important way proposed by the Chinese government to achieve sustainable development. In this paper, a pilot city of constructing TOS in China-Wuhan is taken as a case to evaluate the performance of TOS from 2005 to 2012. Treating the indicators of TOS as multi-dimensional vectors, this paper proposes a methodological framework by integrating the methods of vector angle and Euclidean distance to measure the angle and distance between the vector of annual status of TOS and the vector of planning target of TOS. Based on this, the paper employs coordination (the angle between the two vectors) and effectiveness (the distance between the two vectors) to describe the performance of TOS and its subsystems, including economic development (ED), social and people's well-being (SW), resource consumption (RC), resource recycling (RR), environmental quality (EQ) and pollution control (PC).

Moreover, grey relational analysis approach is used to analyse the core factors influencing TOS construction. Results reveal that the performance of TOS in Wuhan is continually improved in the study period while the performance of its subsystems shows several differences: (1) both coordination and effectiveness of TOS, ED and SW keep on improving, while those of EQ fluctuate; (2) the effectiveness of both RR and PC shows a downward trend while the coordination of them fluctuates; (3) the actual value of RC indicators reaches the planning targets. Based on the analysis of determinants, we suggest that strengthening technological ability and adding investment are extremely important to improve the performance of RC and PC. For the sake of improving RR, it is critical to provide more government public expenditure and encourage financial institutions to provide more loans to stimulate and support the businesses. Moreover, increasing the amount of R&D funding and maintaining steady external economic environment are proved to be effective to improve all subsystems of TOS. ã 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. 1. Introduction

Sustainable development (SD) is a common goal across the globe in the 21st century. However, large amount of energy consumption, environmental pollution and carbon emissions generated in China pose negative threats to Chinese SD (Zhang and Wen, 2008). Therefore, the Chinese government has been paying increasingly more attention to exploring ways for conserving resources and protecting the environment without damaging economic growth. The Chinese government directly proposed SD as part of the national strategies in 1994, and has implemented it by various economic models such as circular economy, low-carbon economy, as well as building two-oriented society (TOS).

Over the past decades, plenty of literature focus on proposing indicators and methods for evaluating the performance of SD (Rinne et al., 2013; Li et al., 2009; Böhringer and Jochem, 2007;

Hopwood et al., 2005) and investigating its determinants (Zhang et al., 2012; Wei et al., 2012; Conroy and Berke, 2004). For example,

Compendium of Sustainable Development Indicator Initiatives identified about 600 sustainable indicators for SD performance (Parris and Kates, 2003). Böhringer and Jochem (2007) and

Hammond et al. (1995) reviewed the consistency and meaningfulness of various indicator and composite index, and proposed many principles and theoretical frameworks about SD assessment.

Dalal-Clayton and Bass (2006) and Moldan et al. (2012) proved that an aggregate SD index and indicators linked to targets are of great importance for policy makers because they can be unambiguously interpreted and easily communicated to the general public. * Corresponding author. Tel.: +86 18569517974.

E-mail addresses: xiangliu1018@gmail.com, liuxiang@csu.edu.cn (X. Liu). http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolind.2014.11.002 1470-160X/ã 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.Short Communication

Assessment of sustainable development pilot city in China

Xiaohong Chen, Xiang Liu *, Dongbin Hu

Collaborative Innovation Center of Resource-conserving & Environment-friendly Society and

University, Changsha, ChinaA case study of Wuhan as a cological Civilization, School of Business, Central South ndicators evier .com/ loca te /eco l ind

X. Chen et al. / Ecological Indicators 50 (2015) 206–214 207However, scientific rules elaborated by Ebert and Welsch (2004) have not been taken into account enough for aggregating indicators towards composite indices because of lacking the generally accepted rules for normalization and weighting, and being short of the commensurability of various variables (Böhringer and Jochem, 2007). Moreover, it was still an open question to construct a versatile methodology (Singh et al., 2012).

Even though various evaluation methods had been employed, such as principal component analysis (PCA) (Yang et al., 2011), super efficiency data envelopment analysis (DEA) model (Wu et al., 2014), and super slack-based measure (SBM) model with undesirable outputs (Li et al., 2013). The evaluation results of

PCA and DEA models are greatly influenced by sample size and structure, which means that different data and sample size often lead to changes in evaluation results. In addition, from the practical view, planning is helpful for promoting SD for all countries (Conroy and Berke, 2004), especially for China which has a highly centralized planning system to lead and guide the development of cities (Xie and Costa, 1993). Therefore, the objectives mentioned in the plan should be taken into account when evaluating the performance of SD.