Improving the Evaluation for The Construction of Beautiful Villages assessment method : case studies from six Chinese eco-villages
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Eco-village development has been considered by the Chinese central government, in its rural revitalisation campaign, as a crucial solution to the increasingly serious issues faced by rural areas, including the loss of young residents and an ageing population, resulting in the underuse of rural land resources. As demonstrated through the application of a range of frameworks and assessment methods for design and evaluation, eco-village development can be a valid approach to address rural issues in China. However, an eco village development is a long-term, complex, and diverse project which involves social, technical, economic, environmental and political challenges. The commonly used assessment methods, including a Chinese official eco-village assessment tool – the Evaluation for the Construction of Beautiful Village (ECBV) – cannot comprehensively evaluate eco-village developments in China due to the limitations in their assessment process, criteria, and indicators. The importance of an effective eco-village assessment tool necessitates a re-examination of the ECBV assessment method. This will allow a more in-depth review of existing achievement, guide further development and ensure better outcomes. The main purpose of the study is to identify solutions to improve the Chinese eco-village assessment ECBV based on case studies. The proposed solutions would be useful in effectively and efficiently revising ECBV, and hence the improved assessment would help eco-village designers and residents to become more knowledgeable and effective in their decision-making regarding appropriate and feasible eco-village development measures. As there are increasing efforts to promote rural revitalisation and the implementation of eco-village concepts in China, the problem becomes more apparent: there is an urgent need for an assessment method that can be applied to evaluate the performance of a bottom-up eco-village development and provide valuable feedback and lessons from those already completed projects to guide a new development project and ensure better outcomes. Thus, a specific assessment method that can examine, measure and certify the performance of an eco-village is required to assess and guide bottom-up eco-village developments in China. Thus, this study aims to identify the limitations of the Chinese eco-village assessment tool and two internationally recognised assessment methods through case studies of five purposely selected Chinese eco-villages based on both qualitative and quantitative analysis, and then to propose solutions to improve the current Chinese eco-village assessment (ECVB). With these solutions, the ECBV assessment is revised and applied to the sixth Chinese eco-village case to analyse the results and review the modified ECBV for validation. To arrive at a solution, both qualitative and quantitative research methods are adopted and the process is divided into three stages. The first step is to establish in detail the problems caused by assessments currently in common use. The next step is to decide how to revise these assessments, taking into account China’s national conditions. Then, we will apply the revised assessment to practical cases and combine the assessment result to find the solutions that can improve ECBV and help the future development of eco-villages in China. Finally, the thesis presents the findings and limitations of three domestic and internationally recognised assessment methods, which are the current ECBV assessment is not sufficient to evaluate Chinse eco-villages as its assessment criteria are vague, important indicators are missing, and the form of the evaluation process can lead to bias. In other words, the ECBV assessment needs to be improved urgently to avoid misleading Chinese eco-village development in the future. Furthermore, the validated solutions are implementing long-term tracking, balancing assessment criteria, and including commonly applied indicators. These research outcomes are expected to help guide sustainable rural development in China, and the research approach is expected to be applicable in other developing Asian countries as they are seeking and formulating their own versions of eco-village assessment.