The paper shows how sustainability questions relate to the local space. The local place is not a static entity, but a dynamic one, undergoing constant changes, and it is the rapid social and material processes within the given local situation that is a challenge for the Chinese villages and their integrity. The following article considers the cohesion between the dwellers' emotional co-ownership of their local space and the sustainability process as a driving force in social, economic and ecological development. We bring together the classification of the seven fields of encounter, which were developed out of the empirical data of the Chinese case study villages, and sustainability oriented management considerations for all levels of this concept. We do not pretend to know the solutions, but describe a set of interrelated fields that can be anchor points for placing the solutions and show in which fields action and intervention is possible. In our concept of sustainability, every spatial field has its special meaning, needs special measures and policies and has different connotations to concepts like responsibility, family values or communication systems. We see the social sustainability process as a support for the empowerment of the local dwellers, and the SUCCESS research has encouraged the villages to find suitable sustainability oriented solutions for their natural and societal situation. Before entering the discussion about the chances and potential of a sustainability approach for the Chinese villages, it is first necessary to accept the fact that rural villages play a primordial role in Chinese society and that their potential can strengthen future pathways for China. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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