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Environmental Management and Sustainable Development

Social sustainability: a review of indicators and empirical application

Gideon Baffoe, Emmanuel Mutisya
Graduate Program in Sustainability Science-Global Leadership Initiative Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, The University of Tokyo Room 485, Environmental Studies Building 5-1-5 Kashiwanoha, Kashiwa City, Chiba, 277-8563, Japan Tel: 82-80-6250-2398 E-mail:
Abstract :

As one of the three pillars of sustainable development, social sustainability has received little attention compared to the economic and environmental pillars. The major reason accounting for the neglect is attributed to its contested nature. This has culminated in the current conceptual understanding of the term. Previous efforts on social sustainability have concentrated on theoretical interpretations rather than quantification assessment. This is because quantifying social sustainability is regarded a daunting task. Meanwhile, indicators are disparate which makes understanding even more confusing. To enrich our knowledge on the term, definitional assessment and indicator synthesis and application will play a major role. The objective of this paper is to review the indicators of social sustainability and empirically apply them using the composite index approach. The review uniquely identified three dimensions (sub components) of social sustainability - representation mechanism, collective state and individual access. Empirical application in Kibera in Kenya, depicted a medium level of social sustainability. The highest contributing sub component was collective state with the least being representation mechanism. The study results evidently suggest policy support for inclusive governance, improved housing, job creation, security, education and community trust. It is believed that addressing these diverse issues will enhance social sustainability in Kibera.

Keywords :
Social sustainability, Kibera slum, Composite index, Indicators

Date Deposited : 29 Jan 2016 13:10

Last Modified : 29 Jan 2016 13:10

Official URL:

Volume 4, Number 2, - 2015 , ISSN 2164-7682

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