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Title: Understanding and evaluating urban quality of life for enhancing sustainable urban development : a dual-complex-adaptive-system (U2-CAS)
Authors: Lam, Suen Man Schuman
Degree: Ph.D.
Issue Date: 2021
Abstract: "If one wants to live a lucid dream, he or she must pay attention to the past, realize now, and envisage the future." Our cities are built by the people for the people. All physical environments in the cities should be planned and built to serve human needs by following the global concept of sustainability while compromising the needs of our next generations. Understanding and evaluating the urban quality of life (Uqol) and sustainability are crucial for guiding future sustainable urban policymaking and it has been a great challenge for many governments. However, most current Sustainability-Uqol evaluation systems lack mutual consensus between the top-down policy-driven supply and the bottom-up subjective well-being demand for narrowing the communication gap of both ends. Thus, a mismatching of supply and demand impedes the performance of sustainable urban development (SUD). The main purpose of this research is to develop the multi-dimensional Urban Quality of Life Dual-Complex-Adaptive System (U2¬≠CAS) to integrate the supply and demand sides for understanding and evaluating the expected Sustainability-Uqol criteria to inform future urban development policies in developing countries. Often, disagreement in the definition of quality of life (QOL) makes it very difficult to create a unified evaluation system due to the internal perception gaps and its external market bias in studying SUD and QOL. The central pillar of this study is to link the ancient Yin-yang universal law to the global sustainability concept for defining the QOL into Uqol, a composite of eleven Sustainability-Uqol indicators consisting of health, environment, mobility, human capital, governance, social, culture, economy, technology-ICT, smart living, and lifestyle. The novel U2-CAS attempts to help people to relearn and rekindle the relevance of ancient wisdom to the contemporary ways of life entailing a sustainable future. The overall research framework (ORF) was guided by the three logical stages: theoretical base, analytical illustration, and application. First, a series of classical theories founded the future Sustainable Human Eco-City (SHE-City). Second, the SHE-City was developed into a two-pronged Wheel of Sustainability-Uqol (WoSu) by integrating the policy-driven supply and the expected subjective well-being demand. Third, the WoSu application conceptualized the urban-ruralism (UxR) development framework to renew the outdated economy-led urbanization path for solving the global unsustainable issues such as climate change and unbalanced urbanization.
The proposed U2-CAS was established and confirmed with the mixed-methods research validating through the literature review of QOL and sustainability, interviews, Amsterdam's SUD policy review, field observation, desktop comparative analysis of relevant Sustainability-Uqol indices, Uqol survey, and pilot testing. The qualitative and quantitative research design was sustained by two sequential levels of data triangulation for constructing and validating the WoSu evaluation tool and the hypothetical SHE-City model, subsequently for confirming the novel U2-CAS with mean score test, confirmatory factor analysis (CFA), and structural equation modelling (SEM) goodness-of-fit test. Furthermore, the testing results certified transit-oriented-development (TOD), information-communication-technology (ICT), sustainable urban development (SUD), and Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs (MHN) as the four key principles making up the future Sustainable Human Eco-City (SHE-City). The new approach for defining the abstract QOL into Uqol contributes in three hierarchical aspects: the U2-CAS evaluation system, the WoSu evaluation tool, and the conceptual UxR development framework. The transdisciplinary research offers new insight, direction, and format in defining conceptual words such as "Urban Quality of Life", depicting its trajectory from ubiquity to accountability and applicability while allowing scholars and urban decision-makers to understand, evaluate, and discover significant knowledge in the process of development. The innovative U2-CAS can define and explain the complex multi-scalar urban ecosystem with the illustrations of a series of microsystems to endorse the action-based solution. In urban planning, the WoSu is a practical urban thermometer to collect local information for drafting, guiding, monitoring, and improving SUD. It is an effective communication platform for enhancing mutual understanding, trust, and cooperation among the stakeholders, particularly for bridging the binary position between government and the public, which is vital for solving pressing urban issues with the participation of community support and safeguarding a harmonious society in the 21st century. Through the verification of the U2-CAS, newfound findings show that different demographic variables affect the expected well-being evaluation, and exhibited geographically; there are distinct significant well-being disparities of economy, technology-ICT, smart living, and lifestyle between the developing and developed countries; the significance of economy and location is no more the real factor for people's relocation, but job opportunity is; socio-economic-technological advancement is strongly desired by the developing countries, and the contextual environment shaped by ICT will become the dominant driver to form or reform the urban-rural landscapes. In such a case, the TOD-ICT-based UxR development framework is suggested for cultivating the bare landscapes in developing countries. The research predicts that the developing countries can possibly leapfrog the developed countries in economic-social-environmental-technological advancement in the digital age. As for the significant impact of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in developing countries, and the future urbanization trend, a BRI Index derived from the WoSu is worth further development for securing balanced urbanization and progressing the global sustainable development goals (SDGs) as a whole in parallel motion.
Subjects: Sustainable urban development
City planning
Sustainable development
Quality of life
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Pages: xiv, 192 pages : color illustrations
Appears in Collections:Thesis

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