PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2021, Vol. 40 ›› Issue (1): 61-72.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2021.01.006

• Sustainable Urbanization • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Progress of research on sustainable development index for cities and urban agglomerations

CHEN Ruishan1(), ZHAO Zhiqiang2, XU Di3, CHEN Yi4   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Geographic Information Science, Ministry of Education, School of Geographical Sciences, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200241, China
    2. Academy of Plateau Science and Sustainability, Xining 810018, China
    3. School of Environmental and Geographical Sciences, Shanghai Normal University, Shanghai 200233, China
    4. Department of Architecture, Nanjing Tech University, Nanjing 211816, China
  • Received:2020-08-20 Revised:2020-11-17 Online:2021-01-28 Published:2021-03-28
  • Supported by:
    Major Program of the National Social Science Foundation of China(20ZDA085)


The twenty-first century is an urban century, and high quality urban development is critical for regional and global sustainable development. China has experienced a very rapid urbanization, with its urbanization rate increased from 17.9% in 1978 to 60.6% in 2019. This rate will further increase to more than 70% in 2030, with most of the population lives in cities. Cities are the engine of economic development in China. With 7% of the terrestrial area, they produced 70% of the national gross domestic product (GDP), and the urban agglomerations even concentrated more population and GDP in China. The health and sustainability of cities and urban agglomerations therefore will determine China's development quality and progress in the future. To identify the levels of their development, the issues they face, and the gaps with other cities in China and internationally, we need to quantitatively evaluate their development. In this study, we systematically reviewed the evolution of the theories and index systems of sustainable development evaluation, examined the methodology of urban sustainable development evaluation based on the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals framework, and proposed an approach to evaluate the level of sustainable development of cities and urban agglomerations. Finally, we suggest an approach to create a urban development dashboard from platform building, big data processing, and index monitoring and releasing. This approach based on the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals can provide the focal city a reference from other cities, make it possible to compare cities in different regions, and contribute to identifying development direction and existing problems.

Key words: cities, urban agglomerations, sustainable development evaluation, Sustainable Development Goals, dashboard