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Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Feb 1;15(2). pii: E246. doi: 10.3390/ijerph15020246.

Spatio-Temporal Dynamic Analysis of Sustainable Development in China Based on the Footprint Family.

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Division of Student Affairs, Xi'an Shiyou University, Xi'an 710065, China.
School of Resource and Environment, Ningxia University, Yinchuan 750021, China.
School of Geography and Tourism, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi'an 710062, China.
School of Geography and Tourism, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi'an 710062, China.


The existing index systems on sustainable evaluation are mostly based on a multi index comprehensive evaluation method. The main disadvantage of this approach is that the selection and assignment of evaluation indexes are greatly influenced by subjective factors, which can result in poor comparability of results. By contrast, the Footprint Family (including ecological footprint, carbon footprint, and water footprint) is not affected by subjective factors. The Footprint Family also covers the basic tenets of sustainable development. This paper proposes use of a sustainable development evaluation index system based on the principle of the Footprint Family, and including the ecological pressure index (EPI), the ecological occupancy index (EOI), the ecological economic coordination index (EECI), the GHG (Greenhouse Gas) emission index (CEI), the water resources stress index (WSI), and the sustainable development index (SDI). Furthermore, a standard for grading the evaluated results based on global benchmarks is formulated. The results of an empirical study in China were the following. The development situation deteriorated from 1990 to 2015. The results showed that the SDI decreased from a medium level (grade 5) to a lower-medium level (grade 4). The results of this empirical study also showed that the method of evaluation can avoid the influence of subjective factors and can be used in the evaluation of sustainable development for various temporal and spatial conditions.


China; Footprint Family; carbon footprint; ecological footprint; sustainable development; water footprint

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Conflict of interest statement

The authors of this paper declare no conflict of interest. The founding sponsors had no role in the design of the study; in the collection, analyses, or interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript, or in the decision to publish the results.

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