Urbanization and sustainability under transitional economies: A synthesis for Asian Russia

Peilei Fan, Jiquan Chen, Zutao Ouyang, Pavel Groisman, Tatiana Loboda, Garik Gutman, Alexander V. Prishchepov, Anna Kvashnina, Joseph Messina, Nathan Moore, Soe Myint, Jiaguo Qi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Spanning a vast territory of approximately 13 million km2, Asian Russia was home to 38 million people in 2016. In an effort to synthesize data and knowledge regarding urbanization and sustainable development in Asian Russia in the context of socioeconomic transformation following the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1990, we quantified the spatiotemporal changes of urban dynamics using satellite imagery and explored the interrelationships between urbanization and sustainability. We then developed a sustainability index, complemented with structural equation modeling, for a comprehensive analysis of their dynamics. We chose six case cities, i.e., Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Omsk, Irkutsk, and Khabarovsk, as representatives of large cities to investigate whether large cities are in sync with the region in terms of population dynamics, urbanization, and sustainability. Our major findings include the following. First, Asian Russia experienced enhanced economic growth despite the declining population. Furthermore, our case cities showed a general positive trend for population dynamics and urbanization as all except Irkutsk experienced population increases and all expanded their urban built-up areas, ranging from 13% to 16% from 1990 to 2014. Second, Asian Russia and its three federal districts have improved their sustainability and levels of economic development, environmental conditions, and social development. Although both regional sustainability and economic development experienced a serious dip in the 1990s, environmental conditions and social development continuously improved from 1990 to 2014, with social development particularly improving after 1995. Third, in terms of the relationships between urbanization and sustainability, economic development appeared as an important driver of urbanization, social development, and environmental degradation in Asian Russia, with economic development having a stronger influence on urbanization than on social development or environmental degradation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number095007
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 7 2018


  • Asian Russia
  • economic development
  • environmental condition
  • social development
  • sustainability
  • urbanization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Environmental Science
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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