Emerging markets are entering a period of mass urbanization that could dramatically raise their productivity and standards of living but that also poses environmental and other threats that could significantly reduce the benefits of growth.
Many countries are already pursuing sustainable development—economic growth that improves lives without exhausting the environment or other resources—but the absence of accepted frameworks for evaluating success in emerging-market cities often prevents officials from discovering and implementing effective urban solutions.
“New models for sustainable growth in emerging-market cities” introduces a new metric, the urban sustainability index, which was created to address this gap and help policy makers in emerging markets identify approaches that will work in their cities. The index is designed to measure the performance of cities in five sustainability categories: how well they are meeting their citizens’ basic needs, resource efficiency, environmental cleanliness, built environment, and commitment to future sustainability.
By using the index to analyze the policies and programs of some of China’s most sustainable cities, we identified five common themes for achieving sustainability in emerging-market cities: industrial restructuring linked to land renewal, “green” urban planning, transparent standards and charges, integrated large-scale recycling, and cross-departmental coordination.