Community-based Quality Of Life Indicators For Urban Areas As Derived In Galway City, Ireland
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F. Fahy & M. Ó Cinnéide
Promoting quality of life and well-being of citizens is increasingly recognised as an essential component of sustainable urban development. The use of indicators is considered by many to be a key element in giving practical effect to the concept of sustainable cities. However, an emerging body of literature acknowledges that indicators are unlikely to be acceptable or particularly useful unless they are developed in close consultation with their target populations. Community-derived indicators allow individual citizens and communities to express and measure the most important determinants of quality of life for them. This participatory approach raises awareness of elements of the urban environment that are highly valued by citizens and has the potential to contribute to improving local governance. The derivation of quality of life indicators and their observation in urban settings, together with the compilation, analysis, and interpretation of related databases, are highly problematic, not least because the indicators tend to be qualitative in nature and difficult to measure objectively. The use of community-derived quality of life indicators in sustainable urban planning is reviewed in this paper. The process of developing such indicators in Galway (Ireland), one of the fastest growing cities in the EU (as part of a project sponsored by the Irish Environmental Protection Agency), is examined in detail. The manner in which the municipal authority may utilise these indicators to monitor quality of life trends and as a practical tool for bolstering participatory democracy is discussed. This enhanced governance is demonstrated to be a potentially influential process of promoting sustainability practices in cities. Keywords: quality of life indicators, sustainable urban communities, participatory democracy and governance, Ireland.
quality of life indicators, sustainable urban communities, participatory democracy and governance, Ireland.