Developing Social Sustainability Criteria and Indicators in Urban Planning: A Holistic and Integrated Perspective




social sustainability, criteria and indicators of social sustainability, measurement of social sustainability, urban sustainability,


One of the main reasons for today’s urban problems is the disregarding of social sustainability in urban interventions and the lack of an approach that evaluates social sustainability with all its issues as a universal and holistic one. In this context, the aim of this study is to determine and categorize social sustainability criteria, objectives, and indicators to measure and to assess social sustainability for ensuring the sustainability of cities that could be used in all urban areas and applied in urban planning.  Within this scope, social sustainability criteria, objectives, and indicators identified by international organizations and academic/scientific studies on different scales and in urban areas were evaluated systematically and analytically. A matrix has been generated according to the frequency of occurrence of social sustainability criteria and indicators. Although research studies focus on criteria and indicators according to scale, subject, and specified matters. It is a necessity to identify social sustainability criteria and indicators that can be used on every scale and in every urban area. Accordingly, ten criteria have been determined: population, accessibility, education and skills, health, housing, security, belonging, participation, social capital and social cohesion, urban life quality, satisfaction, and adequacy of services. Based on the criteria, targets, sub-targets, indicators, and indicator definitions for each criterion have been identified. However, the significance of each criterion is addressed, as well as the reasons for their necessity for social sustainability. This study proposes a universal, detailed, and holistic perspective for the measurement and assessment of social sustainability that enables the use of both quantitative and qualitative data together and envisages the use of mixed techniques in obtaining and evaluating data. In addition, criteria and indicator systems will be able to guide practitioners and policymakers to make decisions related to the social structure before and after the implementation of urban projects.


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Author Biographies

Hilay Atalay, Istanbul Technical University

Hilay Atalay is a Ph.D. candidate at Istanbul Technical University. She completed her undergraduate degree in the City and Regional Planning Department and her master’s degree in landscape architecture at Istanbul Technical University. She worked for the Bimtaş (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality) and Okan University. She currently works as a part-time lecturer at Istanbul Gelişim University and Biruni University.

Nuran Zeren Gülersoy, Işık University

Prof. Nuran Zeren Gülersoy graduated as an architect from Istanbul Technical University (ITU), where she received her master’s degree and her doctorate in urban planning. She worked for the ITU between 1977-2018. Presently, she is the Department Head of Architecture at FMV Işık University. Her primary areas of interest are urban conservation, urban planning, and urban and landscape design. She is currently the General Secretary of International Planning History Society (IPHS) and serves as Europa Nostra member, ICOMOS CIVVIH Group and OWH Tourism working group.


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How to Cite

Atalay, H., & Zeren Gülersoy, N. (2023). Developing Social Sustainability Criteria and Indicators in Urban Planning: A Holistic and Integrated Perspective. ICONARP International Journal of Architecture and Planning, 11(1), 01–23.