MEASURING SUSTAINABLE URBAN DEVELOPMENT IN SELECTED COASTAL CITIES OF CROATIA: AN INDICATOR AND GIS BASED APPROACH FOR CITY OF ZADAR AND PULA
Over the last two decades, there has been an intensive discussion and research about measuring sustainable urban development. Many cities, regions and countries have decided to introduce indicators for monitoring and measuring the progress towards sustainability. Today there is a wide spread perception that information on the environment and development in general, and urban environment in particular, is the determinant of effective rational decision and allocation of resources. Such information would enable planners and decision makers to formulate redistributive policies and programmes to address some of the disparities that exist within post-socialist city. Cities of the post-socialist world characterized by sharp disparities, socio-economic contrasts and environmental degradation provide an excellent laboratory for tracing information on the quality of urban life. The current situation in emerging Croatian coastal cities of Zadar and Pula also reflects the diversity of post-socialist urban change in a very fragile Mediterranean landscape.
This paper takes a critical look on sustainable development and its measurements. It describes how different local communities in Zadar were evaluated quality of life based on basic pillars of sustainable development. It also contributes to the development of new solutions for enhancing strategic values and priorities of National Association for Science of the Republic of Croatia by offering both scientific forum and urban laboratory for joint learning. This research draw also much-needed attention to a very important issue of unification with EU sustainable urban indicator initiatives, as well as help, to trace general recommendation to other Croatian cities striving for sustainable development.
Key words: GIS, urban indicators, monitoring, sustainable urban development.
Measuring the quality of urban life has a long-standing tradition in many parts of the world (Gahin, Paterson, 2001; Ghosh, Vale & Vale, 2006). These measurements were developed within social sciences first (Sawicki, 2002), mostly urban sociology and than urban ecology as antecedents of inter-disciplinary urban studies (McDonald & Patterson, 2007, Wong, 2002). Their specialised applications in urban planning and governance based on principles of sustainable development (Flood, 1997) became recent phenomenon. What is to be said about measuring the quality of urban life nowadays, especially when fashionable urbanism is created by influences of globalisation, or glocalisation emerge as natural response? In this dynamic performance, where both major and small key players strive to achieve their interests, urban indicators are useful “instruments” for decision making. Although, significant progress has been made, few efforts have explored local participation in developing indicators which can be used for preparation, implementation, monitoring and review of urban projects (Revi and Dube, 1999).
Contemporary system of sustainable urban indicators helps in giving answers to several important questions such as: Does our city become better or worse place for living and working? Do its plans and programmes address citizens’ requirements and needs? Do they contribute to the improvement of overall urban environment? Do they effect displacements, in what sense and in what degree? Naturally, all these queries require the availability of a very specific type of information which can be generated from different sources framed by information pyramid composed of indexes→ indicators→ information→data[iv] (WRI, 1995), all shown in Fig. 1
Fig. 1 The structure of the information pyramid
Urban indicators are simple instruments for multidimensional measuring of the well-being or quality of life in urban settlements which include natural, built, economic, social and political environment. In technical sense, urban indicators are the presentations of information that show changes and trends in the course of time. In organised and established systems, the indicators are usually illustrated as diagrams, maps, graphs, schemes, tables, and figures, enabling people to see the trends in simplest and fastest way.
Nevertheless, there are many forms of transforming information into comprehensive indexes using audio-visual media, graphical design, arts, web and similar. Laurini (2001) especially points out the prominence of multi-media and geographical information systems (GIS), which affect the extreme processing precision, presentation and information use in urban systems and e-government applications.
Usually in practice, several individual indicators are organised in a series or group, i.e. a system, in order to be used on strategic and operative levels and within the defined development objectives whereby some of the essential indicators’ functions may overlap. One option is to use indicators in order to improve awareness of the needs for sustainable development in a city. The other function may be within the sphere of monitoring wherein the indicators have to be selected in order to describe situations susceptible to changes. Indicators of facilitation and the process of decision-making, where it is of utmost importance to implement adequate development methods and compare development alternatives with their various effects. When used in development control, indicators provide the information on the distance from the proclaimed objective. In this case they combine the function of measuring the sustainable development progress with functions that indicate the necessity to take actions. And finally, indicators are used as reference points for performances testing, i.e. so-called benchmarking. Hence, individual cities may get a clear idea of their positions in relation to other cities in the country or on international level, i.e. they may easily compare their own comparative advantages and shortcomings and on the basis of which can take relevant measures and activities.
In the context of sustainable urban development, indicators are effective tools for monitoring of urban progress congruently with the formulated objectives (Innes, Booher, 2000). At the same time they indicate how far the realization of proclaimed objectives is from the present stage of urban development and what the deviations from the planned course are. In case of preventive actions, indicators of sustainable urban development contribute to the increased efficiency of implemented plans and programs and making decisions important for a city and its complex social, economic, built and natural systems.
Most common criticism refers to the development of indicators in isolation and without consulting complex experiences such as work on “casual networks” which may contribute to more appropriate environmental policies and better management decisions (Niemeijer & Groot, 2008). Similar to this, Gustavson and his team (1999) argue that the indicators are usually developed along political boundary lines, while in reality, the eco-systems and natural zones do not conform to them. In this case, the indicators of sustainable development lack so-called “design perspective”. It is also stressed that important issues cannot be ignored simply because some of them are not measurable by adequate indicators and that measurement plays an important role and helps in understanding of quantitative and qualitative aspects (Hodge at. all., 1999).
These findings are certainly important for NZZ project where, in the process of creating a model for selected coastal cities in Croatia, and aiming to avoid problems facing authors in other countries (Moles, Foley, Morrissey & O'Regan, 2008). Due to this reason it was essential in the case of Zadar, to test “bottom-up approach” in combination with various other models, wherein the citizens and their opinions on multidimensional environment are placed in the centre of an information gathering and their transformation into indicators.
THE PROBLEMS OF URBAN SUSTAINABILITY IN A POST-SOCIALIST CITY
For the last 20 years most cities in Central and Eastern Europe pass through a process of intensive political, socio-economic and physical transition. Growing disparities and the influence of a capitalist model of economy are reflected in all pores of the society, and definitely effect the way of planning, construction and management of cities. A shift from central planning to market-oriented economy offers huge opportunities for improvement of economic prosperity and quality of life for urban population (Tsenkova, 2000). The principles of allocation and distribution of various social groups change rapidly, especially in the domain of residential building and office and commercial complexes developments by example of (sometimes too hastily) adopted western models. Furthermore, urban forms are also transformed with adverse effect on the environment, mostly noticeable on so-called soft locations in suburban zones. Uncontrollable urban expansion better known as “urban sprawl” becomes one of the pressing issues in activities of a series of actors with different interests in use and construction of urban land (Cavrić & Nedović-Budić, 2007). A definite influence of urban sprawl and development of a consumer mentality, even though still not in compliance with production and purchasing power become dominant processes in Croatian and other cities of former Yugoslavia (Budić & Cavrić, 2006; Berke & Conroy, 2000). In such a situation, the questions of sustainability, quality and control of future urban development arise.
Today, Croatia finds itself in a gap between demands for faster economic development and demands for protection of urban environment and natural heritage. Numerous governmental, parastatal and non-government agencies, together with civic groups are trying to find compromise solutions to meet public and private requirements, to direct and decide upon urban resources. Simultaneously, a large number of domestic and foreign developers act on strict profit principles only, which is usually opposed to proclaimed public interests. Independently or with the assistance of well established political and economic lobbyists, they usually do not take care of social justice requirements, subject to which all citizens are entitled to have an access to basic urban services and resources as well as to enjoy a good quality urban environment. These contradictions are especially noticeable in larger cities such as Zagreb (the capital) in which, at the beginning of 1990s, market urban economy and legislation – different from those of the socialist times, prevailed (Cavrić, Nedović-Budić, 2007). Nevertheless, this process slowly triggered even medium-size and smaller cities outside Zagreb influential zone.
Unfortunately, at present, the sustainable urban development in Croatia is still practiced mainly within a declarative sphere full of rhetoric, although this concept has been implemented worldwide since 1987.[v] Urban dwellers of small and large cities, throughout the world, were governed by additional ideas of “healthy”, “intelligent”, “safe”, “global”, “informational” and “computerized” cities (Castells 1989, Tarik 1991, Atkinson 1996, Saskia 1991, Stephen 1997, Hall 1999). Almost in all these cases the maintenance and improvement of the “quality of urban life” as a whole or the parts thereof (districts, neighbouring communities), were priority. Notwithstanding the requirements and messages they sent, the citizen wish to ensure that future generations inherit healthy, vital and interesting places for living. Furthermore, a basic concept of sustainable development has been also improved through theoretical considerations of “survivalability“, “equity”, “evolutionability” and “good heritage”, proclaimed by several scientists (Meadows 1995, Marcuse 1998, Keiner, 2004 & 2006, Veenhoven 2000). All these together offer new positive dimensions in the processes of comprehension of cities as sophisticated systems where it is essential to provide efficient control and co-operation mechanisms between different influential actors and groups.
Following the UN guidelines of the conferences held at Rio de Janeiro in 1992, most of the countries in the world adopted the protocol “Agenda 21” which suggests that “indicators of sustainable development should be created in order to ensure a solid base for decision-making on all levels (United Nations 1993; Chapter 40). Shortly afterwards, new sets of indicators were developed in many countries. There are well known projects on regional level in the United Kingdom (Regional Planning Guidance), New Zeeland (Canterbury Regional Council) and Germany (North-Rhine-Wesphalia). Cities also started developing sets of indicators, especially in Canada (Vancouver), United States of America (Pittsburgh, Santa Monica, Seattle) and England (Bristol, Coventry). Global Urban Observatory of UNCHS develops a data base for measuring the quality of life in over 1100 cities worldwide. Simultaneously, European Committee initiates a Sustainable Cities campaign where more that 100 cities sign the Charter of sustainable development of European cities and towns. European Committee and Eurostat initiate an Urban Audit campaign.
There is an interesting example from the period 1999-2000 wherein a European work group established a set of 10 indicators for measuring of sustainable development on local levels in over 90 cities throughout Europe (Mc Mahon 2002, Bosch 2002). The proposed set of indicators is based on the need to protect environment, equity and social inclusions; local government authorities; democracy; local-global relations; local economy, cultural heritage and the quality of built environment.
(Spangenberg & Bonniot 1998, Holden 2006). A conclusion from all these previous efforts is that the establishing of “sustainable urban development indicators” becomes a global and European trend, and that the aim is to ensure that future generations inherit healthy and vital living spaces on local levels and in urban settlements above all. This actually means the implementation of a basic idea of sustainable development subject to which the needs of present generations must be met but this should not effect the change of conditions whereupon future generations would also fulfil their needs.
The phenomenon of a post-socialist city and main challenges in monitoring and controlling of its sustainable development were the light motive of the scientific project proposal: “Creation of a sustainable urban development system for the selected littoral cities of Croatia”. This proposal was approved for sponsorship of the National foundation for Science, High Education and Technological Development (NZZ) of the Republic of Croatia in February 2007. Upon the evaluation procedure the project started in February 2008, within the programme “GUEST” which anticipated the engagement of a guest researcher (coordinator) and his work with associates from the host institution which was in the case of NZZ project the Department of Geography, University of Zadar. When selecting a coordinator and accepting the project the Evaluation Board of NZZ established that the proposal met the following requirements:
· Transfer of technology
· Strategic profiling of the host institution
· Formation of a competitive team of young researchers
· Education of the PhD and Post-Doctorate candidates
· Development of graduate studies
· Development and management of joint research projects
· Development of culture of contemporary research projects
· Strengthening the relations of Croatia and cooperation with the international scientific community
· Improvement of Croatia’s reputation and culture and Croatia as a country that accepts and implements the research projects of the highest quality
· Stimulation of excellent graduate and postgraduate students as well as post-doctoral candidates
A twelve-month activity on the project commenced by mid of February 2008 and presently it is the half-way from being completed, upon the approval of the second stage of the project granted by the Board of NZZ. In summary, the overall goals of the NZZ Project are as follows:
(1) To make a relevant contribution in developing of new solutions for the improvement of sustainable urban development in smaller and medium-size cities of Croatia.
(2) To elaborate a proposed systems of indicators of sustainable urban development for the two selected littoral cities in Croatia (Zadar and Pula), on the basis of theoretical and practical experiences; principles, regulations and international and European community standards in this segment of an interdisciplinary urban research.
The cognizance of sustainable urban developments under transition conditions and measurements thereof (Budic, Cavrić, 2006; Keiner at. al. 2004), directly influenced the selection of Zadar and Pula, as the case study cities where the selected model of urban indicators system could be tested. Naturally, the basic issue was also how to implement a dynamic, integral, and interdisciplinary research whose results are suitable for the urban decision makers. In respect of the present progress and achieved results, this paper presents summary of the first findings for the city of Zadar only[vi] (see Map 1). By analysing post-socialist processes in Croatia, and especially in its coastal regions, our research team have created a hypothesis that Zadar is turning into one of the most attractive and impulsive urban centres of coastal Croatia, wherein Rijeka, Split and Dubrovnik have traditionally dominated for years.
Map 1. Geographic setting of Zadar
Nevertheless, the situation changed significantly in favour of Zadar due to construction of the highway A1, and its direct link to the industrial-harbour zone of Gaženica, located 3 km from the city centre. Furthermore, Zadar's vicinity has geo-morphologically unobstructed agricultural hinterland. It has sufficient quantities of drinking water, the sea and coastal zone with multipurpose potential. Furthermore it characterised by high concentration of natural and man-made landmarks. All these opportunities distinguish Zadar as a new development hub and the fifth largest city in the Republic of Croatia, a regional centre of Zadar County, the most northern Dalmatian county with approximately 200,000 people gravitating towards its urban core.
Comparing to other Croatian coastal cities Zadar has no limits for further spatial expansion. Such a problem is obviously related to the terrain physiognomy and their topographic location on the terrain with steep slopes that characterize other Croatian coastal cities. Their urban belts are limited by a mountainous façades parallel with the coast and leaving free only a narrow littoral zones (for example Šibenik, Dubrovnik, Split, Rijeka). In such a situation, these cities were forced during their expansion to grow vertically as the available free space decreased in time. This further resulted in the increase of population density, in urban structure and services efficiency, and in environmental impacts. Especially interesting is their skyline, where the high-rise silhouettes influenced by socialist and Le Corbisier architectural models are domineering. The shortage of land for expansion and long-standing physical isolation have resulted in poor transport connections with their hinterland so that the population moved in or moved out to other parts of Croatia. When compared to them, Zadar and Pula (our other case study city), are more open and in much better position considering the extent of the land with less slopes, better soils, more drinking water and more possibilities for integral transport and development of sustainable mixed-land use zones.
Considering previously elaborated Zadar's development opportunities, the NZZ project was focused on its post-socialist and post-war changes, through analysis of all essential aspects of sustainable urban development with particular focus on: 1) natural, 2) built, 3) economic, 4) social, and 5) political environment. The NZZ research aimed to:
- include the whole city within its built-up area and local communities;
- reflect local visions and values;
- discover connections and system relations;
- balance the means and advantages with local needs and issues;
- be creative and action-oriented.
Therefore, the first instance was to get a broad understanding of the city of Zadar and its sustainable profile with the expertise knowledge of the NZZ team members. In order to eliminate possible doubts, these findings informed the selection of the city neighbourhoods were further field survey and population interviews being conducted. This created a high level of objectivity in comprehending the quality of the urban environment of Zadar. Practically, the study was intended to combine a “top-down” with the “bottom–up” approach. Thus the opinions of the citizens were intersected with the knowledge of the NZZ team, so that the result was a reliable expert-public perception of the integral quality of urban environment. This also confirmed numerous literature findings indicating that the mixture of empiric measured trends and the public opinion offer best results in the sphere of measuring the urban quality and sustainability.
Apart from collecting primary data, the NZZ team applied the latest GIS technology for data base management and high quality mapping. The GIS enabled a detailed analysis and automatic overlay, classification and presenting data at the neighbourhood's and at the city levels inside the boundary of the built-up area.
In respect of the available time and budgetary constraint, the NZZ team has decided to conduct a massive field work and to cover 1% of the total city population. The team has administered 30 individual interview papers with 59 indicators related questions in all 21 neighbourhoods, which resulted in more than 8,000 pages of detailed survey records. The data collected during fieldwork were further improved with the data from other sources, whereby some of them are still in process of being acquired and analysed. This research enabled better quality of analysis of the Zadar built-up area, due to the fact that the field sample was characterised by different demographic, economic and social structures. The sample was designed by type as stratified and by selection as a rand because it was subject to the public opinion. The field survey was performed during the three weeks of May and June 2008, with participation of 40 interviewers and 4 filed work co-ordinators.
The first step after field work was to process (enter into Excell spreadsheet) the data, that is the answers to the questions from the poll, whereupon a cumulative result for each question was obtained; each question had several optional answers offered. Each answer to the particular question was divided by 30 (the number of poll participants per neighbourhood) in order to get percentage values. The statistical data processing results were entered into the joint GIS data base using GIS ArcGIS 9.3 The data base contained earlier created layers of primary spatial data obtained from the ortho-photo and base line maps (in scale of 1:5,000), cadastral, statistic and planning data. A system of coordinated spatial units with clearly defined boundaries (e.g. built-up area, enumeration areas, neighbourhood areas) was created for the whole territory within the limits of the City of Zadar Master Plan.
DISCUSSION OF RESULTS FOR SELECTED NEIGHBOURHOODS
The results described in this part of paper envisage situation in the six typical Zadar’s neighbourhoods for which the NZZ team tested a participatory model of sustainable urban development indicators. These implied a level of analysis focusing on indicators that reflect critical paths of sustainability along the line of natural, built, economic, social and political environment. The following review investigates a specific autochthonous area of Arbanasipersonalized through the exceptionally closed and specific social group. The area of old Bokanjac, even though within the boundaries of city master plan, stands out as a separate urban agriculture enclave. It is followed by area of Novi Bokanjac, which is particularly distinguished as a continuous residential development quarter occupied mostly by the newcomers in the last 15 years. The neighbourhood of Diklo is also deemed to its specific economic situation since most of the residents are involved in tourist industry and its townscape is dominated by multi-storey (5+) residential houses and urban villas. The area of Poluotok was selected as the oldest district of Zadar inhabited since ancient times. It has a distinctive multi-ethnic and multi-cultural mix and aging population, living mostly in historical buildings surrounded by famous archaeological and contemporary land marks. The local community of Bili brig gives an evidence of the two types of developments. It melts a collective socialist and post-socialist mid-rise developments with detached individual housing. Unfortunately in the both constitutive parts there is deficit of adequate social facilities. And, finally our research snap-shot discussed the quarter of Ploče where a large chunks of land being designated to urban greenery, small agricultural fields, infrastructure reserves, but also to NIMBY lans uses such as landfills and stone industry which ar
Quality of the Natural Environment
The quality of the natural environment in Zadar is measured using the nine indicators:
- air quality
- drinking water quality
- sea water quality
- soil quality and suitability
- noise impact
- availability of green areas and landscape quality
- human impacts on natural environment
- natural hazards risk
The obtained results showed that the respondents levelled most criticism against noise (29%), and were most pleased with air quality (31%). These results defer from neighbourhood to neighbourhood. At Poluotok and Arbanasi respondents describe noise as major threat (Poluotok 47%, Arbanasi 40%). This is certainly due to the distribution of important traffic routes, high concentration of people and noise producing activity. The residents of Arbanasi worry also about the quality of the sea, which is logical as most of its population live close to the sea. For example in Diklo neighbourhood, the most critical element was the soil quality and suitability which is shown on the Map 2, as an illustration of indicator’s GIS graphics.
Apart from these findings, the majority of respondents state that humans are most responsible for lower quality of neighbourhood’s natural environment (Bili Brig 53%, Arbanasi 53%). In addition, citizens argued that there is need for addressing issues of sensitive locations such as landfills, ruins and brown fields. One of the research themes was to evaluate a degree of risk against various natural disasters; therefore the respondents estimated the likelihood of natural disaster occurrence. The opinions completely conformed in almost all local communities, i.e. 56% of respondents think that the likelihood was very low or almost non-existent 44%. Nevertheless, should the natural disaster occur, most of the citizens would fear the fire (33%) and earthquake (23%). Residents of communities closer to the sea are most afraid of the storm, flood wave or rise of the sea level Diklo (51 %), while the residents of outskirts neighbourhoods fear the most the possibility of fire due to higher density of vegetation in these areas (Novi Bakanjac 73%). In summary, the environment quality and risks were not quantified at alarming rate; consequently the results showed that more than a half of the population believed they lived in a healthy and hazards free environment in comparison to other coastal cities.
Map 2 Soil Quality
Quality of the Built Environment
The quality of the built environment is measured using the following indicators:
- Level of land development
- Appropriateness of housing development
- Quantity and quality of social service
- Future social services needs
- Quantity and quality of infrastructure services
- Future infrastructure services needs
- Level of architectural and heritage protection
- Type and quality of building materials
- Implementation of sustainable development planning principles
- Implementation of traditional Mediterranean architectural and building styles
Respondents formed specific opinions and orientations concerning the phenomenon of built environment in general and the nature of residential and services development in particular. Some 29% of respondents state that the built environment is overdeveloped, while 57% believes it is moderately developed, which indicates that the issue of a level of development and services is multidimensional. There is a significantly smaller number of those who think that the land is insufficiently developed (14%) or underdeveloped (0%). Depending on the landscape and townscape character, developer’s behaviours, and available finances, the citizens recommend the type of residential development which should appear in different Zadar’s communities. Most of them suggest the low-rise residential development (1-3 floors) in areas of Diklo (83%), Arbanasi (50%), Ploča (57%) and Novi Bokanjac (80%). The medium rise developments (3-8 floors) were recommended in Poluotok (70%) and Bili Brig (80%). It is evident that there were no answers in favour of high rise structures. The most common construction building type is the mixed (60%) and this determined the opinion of respondents illustrated on map 3.
The respondents also emphasised the issue of illegal construction as an acute social problem. The equipment level of pertaining urban services was evaluated with high, good, satisfactory and low grades. The results indicate a general dissatisfaction of citizens with availability and quality of social services. Especially younger age groups stressed out the lack of leisure and entertainment facilities and contents thereof, mature age groups pointed out the lack of cultural facilities, health, educational and child-care facilities, while the old age groups indicated the lack of elderly people care facilities, access roads for the elderly and disabled, as well as health facilities. The highest dissatisfaction was noted in the neighbourhood of Arbanasi, while the most satisfied were citizens living in Poluotok.
Quality of Economic Environment
The quality of economic environment is based on the following indicator’s quantifications:
- Impact of neighbourhood’s homes-working place distribution
- Quality of life vs. working place location
- Impacts of local companies on neighbourhood quality of life
- Dominant working activities
- Impacts of fast growing industries
- Average salaries
- Minimal household income
- Shopping centres and business zones impacts
- General economic situation
There is clear dominance of tertiary economic activities in all selected neighbourhoods (Diklo 94%, Poluotok 87%, Bili Brig 83%, Arbanasi 70% and Novi Bokanjac 54%), while primary activities dominate only in Ploče (40%). Majority of interviewed believe that tertiary (60%) and quarterly (29%) activities contribute to faster economic development. Also, a large number of respondents (71%) think that the close vicinity of a work place to the place of residence presents a better quality of life, while 6% responded adversely. Some 23% of respondents belonging to younger age groups opted for the answer I do not know.
Citizens have very different opinions about industries located in their neighbourhoods. They support opening of new industrial outlets, as the way of securing employment prospect and improving quality of life. However, there is the NIMBY type of opposition to companies located in some neighbourhoods. There are 44% of those who think that the local businesses do not participate in social welfare, environmental and infrastructural programmes enough. Nevertheless, most of them agreed that the companies benefit to the general economic, planning and spatial framework of local communities. Also, there is suggestion that the companies management should be more in touch with the local communities leaders and members of public.
Map 3 Building types
An average monthly income for 58 % of respondents was in 500-1,000 US$ bracket. Only 0.5% of the population had monthly income above 1,300 US$ (see Map 4). Therefore, majority of salary levels were within the national average. However, 37% of interviewed expect to have better wages in order to meet all needs of their families.
Map 4 Average salary
Quality of Social Environment
The quantification of social environment was based on the following indicators:
- Reasons for residential site selection
- Quality of neighbour’s relationships
- Quality of social integration and fulfilment of civil rights
- Characteristics and impacts of domineering social groups
- Personal satisfaction with social contacts
- Negative and positive social behaviours
- Quality and use of spare time
- Impacts of local mentalities
It was stressed that the social context and free time are very important for the majority of people (65%) living in selected neighbourhoods. They underlined character of natural setting (19%), opportunities to stroll along the waterfront (19%) and to have access to numerous pubs and coffee shops (20%), as the most important ingredient in their residence selection and daily liveability. Such results should be taken into consideration in the process of planning, decision-making and spatial frameworks creation in order to satisfy the needs and wishes of the citizens. Another significant indicator was linked to the venue and social backgrounds in which they prefer to spend their free time. Most often answers were that they use their free time with the members of their families (49%) or with friends (42%) at home or popular spots. The vicinity of relatives, friends, neighbours, people with similar social status were also considered essential for their dwelling in a certain parts of neighbourhoods and the city at large. To illustrate these fine aspects of local community life we enclose here presentation of neighbourliness indicator that shows relationships amongst neighbours in close proximity (see Map 5).
Map 5 Neighbour’s relationships
The research team has also recognised people’s demands for more public participation, communication and information concerning urban development frameworks. This may help reduce the degree of distrust the public shows towards the decision making system as well as towards the centralized decision-making conducted by politicians, technocrats and bureaucrats. The reasoning behind such claim is to allow ordinary citizen to be involved in creation better life conditions.
As for the integration of particular social groups, the results deferred for the categories of children and minors, women and single-parent mothers, elderly people and pensioners, those living of social welfare, refugees, etc., but the results were generally the same for the category of addicts (52%) and homosexuals (71%) whose integration was not supported. These responses are only a proof of conservative opinions that prevail in these areas. The residents of Arbanasi were most often described as proud and influential, residents of Diklo were described as economically powerful but stingy. The residents of Bokanjac were described as diligent and kind, and those living in Poluotok as classy and kind.
There are huge differences between the social groups that dominate in certain local communities. Most of original settlers of Zadar live in the area of Arbanasi (66%), while the autochthonous settles of the surrounding districts of Zadar and islands live in Poluotok (47%), newcomers from Zadar and the islands are settled in Bili Brig (70%), while the newcomers from other parts of Croatia and overseas live in Novi Bokanjac (53%).
Quality of Political Environment
In quantifying political environment and its peculiarities the NZZ team covered the following reference indicators:
- Efficiency of local administration
- Implementation of neighbourhood spatial development projects
- Acceptance of citizens opinions
- Level of public participation
- Level of stakeholder participation
- Level of political influence
- Implementation of EU standards
- Efficiency of city administration
These quantifications show a high degree of dissatisfaction and distrust towards efficiency and promptness of public institutions at the both local and city level (see Map 6). Generally speaking a possibility to participate in public debates does not exist (74%), or even when there is such a possibility, the level is low (58%). The efficiency of local authorities is rated as average (60%). The most satisfied with administrative services are the residents of Arabanasi (27%), while the least satisfied are the residents of Bili brig (37%) and Ploča (36%). The majority of respondents criticized the decision-making and communication networks.
The residents object that that they were not regularly involved in the process of public scrutiny together with other stakeholders for the different categories the city and local projects. As a result of such practice, there is a discrepancy in the perception of spatial and environmental frameworks of the sustainable development phenomena. Therefore, the level of acceptance of the citizens’ opinions and suggestions related to public debate is rated very low (18%) or non-existent (41%). The involved citizens agreed that this is what exactly bothers the respondents as a crucial political issue, the very absence of a possibility to participate in the spatial planning and development of the area and the absolute lack of influence on the decision making process. The most favourable situation is found in the local community of Diklo where 35% of the citizens believed that they have some opportunities to express their views and work hand in hand with relevant authorities.
Map 6 City administration efficiency
Very alarming are the results qualifying negative effects of adverse social behaviours (i.e. corruption, nepotism, political connections, racketeering, black mailing) whereby 73% of the citizens said that this type of “social pollution” exist in a high degree, and presents firm barrier to application of EU legislation standards. The respondents believed that personal interests of powerful individuals were main concern, while the general social welfare was neglected. Therefore, the question is in which interest are the decisions made in respect of spatial and urban development projects, i.e. who gains and who looses by these decision? The respondents think that this decision–making process involves central government and local politicians, experts, businessmen and taicoons, and the citizens to limited extent. Politicians at all levels of hierarchy, local and foreign investors, and religious communities act as a key players in land use development arena. Therefore, 1/3 of the citizens believe that their influence is high, and another third that their influence is moderate, but still existing.
CONCLUSION AND THE WAY FORWARD
The first results of the NZZ project are in many ways challenging because of breaking new ground in a curious area of expertise. This is the first interdisciplinary and comprehensive effort in Croatia trying to encompass complex issues of urban sustainability in specific conditions of the post-socialist and coastal city. The research team have applied a variety of methods manoeuvring within limited human, budgetary and technology frameworks. However, integration of neighbourhood and the city level aspirations and sensitizing the dialogue between community and experts presents an innovative approach to urban indicators studies. This implies that an indicators toolbox may be useful in urban development control and monitoring on regular annual basis. Without any doubt it could help urban administrators and governors to make wise decisions about priorities and action but in participatory atmosphere where all stakeholders should have their say.
The study opened a question about development of the standardised urban indicator’s set. A preliminary indicators check-list have been tested only in six neighbourhoods. It is expected to apply improved model for the rest of Zadar and for another case study city of Pula. The current and future findings will be then presented during joint workshop with community and city agencies representatives. Then the final version of acceptable indicator’s listing will form the base for its regular production and use.
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[ii]PhD Candidate, Department of Geography, University of Zagreb, Croatia. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
[iii] Teachnig Assistant and PhD Candidate, Department of Geography, University of Zadar, Croatia. Email: email@example.com
[iv] Indicators contain the information based on primary and analysed data. We use them in order to quantify the information, stressing out its importance, as well as to simplify the comprehension of information on complex and composite phenomena such as a sustainable development (World Resources Institute – WRI, 1995).
[v]World Commision on Environment and Development, WCED 1987. Also knowns as Brundtland Committee.
[vi] The extent of Zadar study area includes the land mass of 25.01km2 within the boundaries of the city master plan (GUP) with 21 neighbourhoods and 69,556 citizens based on 2001 census.