A literature review and categorisation of sustainability-aimed urban metabolism indicators: a context, indicator, mechanism, outcome analysis

Urban metabolism has been advanced as an approach to quantifying energy and resource use and supply in the modern urban system. It is a multidisciplinary approach focused on providing insight into the behaviour of cities for drafting effective proposals for a more humane and ecologically responsible future. Urban metabolism indicators could play an important role in promoting the science and practice of urban metabolism for sustainability. This paper presents a systematic review of literature centred on defining sustainability-aimed urban metabolism indicators to improve the integration of urban metabolism and urban sustainability. Furthermore, this paper concentrates on two indicator sets (emergy synthesis and material flow analysis [MFA]), examining the relationship between these indicators and the three dimensions of sustainability (environment, economy, and society) in the literature. The paper thus builds a bridge between urban metabolism and urban sustainability in the hope that urban metabolism indicators can be used to measure and assess urban sustainability.