Developing Social Sustainability Criteria and Indicators in Urban Planning: A Holistic and Integrated Perspective

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ICONARP International Journal Of Architecture And Planning, vol.11, no.1, pp.1-23, 2023 (ESCI) identifier


One of the main reasons for today’s urban problems is the disregarding of social sustainability in urban interventions and the lack of an approach that evaluates social sustainability with all its issues as a universal and holistic one. In this context, the aim of this study is to determine and categorize social sustainability criteria, objectives, and indicators to measure and to assess social sustainability for ensuring the sustainability of cities that could be used in all urban areas and applied in urban planning. Within this scope, social sustainability criteria, objectives, and indicators identified by international organizations and academic/scientific studies on different scales and in urban areas were evaluated systematically and analytically. A matrix has been generated according to the frequency of occurrence of social sustainability criteria and indicators. Although research studies focus on criteria and indicators according to scale, subject, and specified matters. It is a necessity to identify social sustainability criteria and indicators that can be used on every scale and in every urban area. Accordingly, ten criteria have been determined: population, accessibility, education and skills, health, housing, security, belonging, participation, social capital and social cohesion, urban life quality, satisfaction, and adequacy of services. Based on the criteria, targets, sub-targets, indicators, and indicator definitions for each criterion have been identified. However, the significance of each criterion is addressed, as well as the reasons for their necessity for social sustainability. This study proposes a universal, detailed, and holistic perspective for the measurement and assessment of social sustainability that enables the use of both quantitative and qualitative data together and envisages the use of mixed techniques in obtaining and evaluating data. In addition, criteria and indicator systems will be able to guide practitioners and policymakers to make decisions related to the social structure before and after the implementation of urban projects.