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Sustainable Housing in the Urban Context: International Sustainable Development Indicator Sets and Housing


Housing, an essential aspect of quality of life, is also significant for sustainable development (SD). All of the major international statements on SD refer to housing or settlement strategies. However, indicator sets derived from these statements often fail to include good indicators of sustainable housing. This article outlines the conceptualisation of SD and housing from the international statements. It proceeds by describing the international indicator sets which have been constructed based on these policy statements. International organisations such as the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the European Union (EU) have all produced indicator sets. However, this article contends that housing is an underdeveloped indicator and calls for more attention to be paid to the importance of aspects of housing for SD and the measurement of progress towards it via social indicators.

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  1. In 1998, the European Commission highlighted the importance of evaluating local sustainability and monitoring progress on Local Agenda 21 (COM 1998, 605). In 2001, it published the European Sustainable Development Strategy (Gothenberg Strategy) (based on WCED definition) and the 6th Environment Action Programme, including a theme on urban environment indicators. This was done to build on the Lisbon Agenda which failed to include an environmental dimension, and which had given rise to structural indicators, none of which was dedicated to housing. The EU published a list of guiding principles for sustainable development in 2005 and, in 2006, a renewed Sustainable Development Strategy building on its original strategy (European Council 2006 DOC 10117/06)


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Correspondence to Nessa Winston.

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Winston, N., Pareja Eastaway, M. Sustainable Housing in the Urban Context: International Sustainable Development Indicator Sets and Housing. Soc Indic Res 87, 211–221 (2008).

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  • Housing
  • Indicators
  • Sustainable development
  • Sustainability indicators
  • Urban sustainability indicators
  • Housing and the environment
  • Quality of life