The unstoppable world population growth is increasing the concentration of people in urban settlements and the number of megacities, especially in developing countries where urbanization exacerbates social and economic inequalities. Green rating systems have been launched during the last decades to facilitate the assessment of sustainable development in terms of building and infrastructure, including the evaluation of sustainable urban development through the study of communities. This article assesses two of the most renowned sustainable rating systems through the prism of economy, environment and society and the international actions undertaken toward the promotion of sustainable development worldwide, in order to determine their effectiveness to assess urban development in poorer nations. Hence, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Neighbourhood Development (LEED ND) and Envision, both from the United States, were chosen as representatives of building and infrastructure fields, respectively, so that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the New Urban Agenda (Habitat III) were the benchmarks selected to define the sustainability aspects required to evaluate their potential application in less developed countries. The absence of metrics in the New Urban Agenda led to relate its commitments to the SDGs, which revealed that the prerequisites and credits included in LEED ND and Envision mainly focused on managerial and environmental aspects and disregarded the economic and social dimensions. Consequently, the premises under which LEED ND and Envision were developed must be updated and complemented with the two latest guidelines recently adopted by the United Nations in the field of urban and sustainable development.
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