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Dynamic multidimensional assessment of sustainability at the macro level: The case of Austria

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  • Shmelev, Stanislav E.
  • Rodríguez-Labajos, Beatriz

Abstract

This paper explores the issue of sustainability at the macro scale employing multi-criteria decision aid (MCDA) methods. The incommensurability of values and the essentially multi-dimensional and dynamic nature of sustainability challenge the use of composite measurement indices. This determined the choice of MCDA methods. Austria was chosen as a case study, due to the wide availability of data, especially on indicators of strong sustainability. The structure of the multi-criteria problem comprised the evolution of different sustainability dimensions over time. The process for selecting criteria included a critical assessment of institutional sustainability agendas (UN, EU and Austrian Government) and theoretical recommendations. After an assessment of MCDA methods, the NAIADE method demonstrated the most suitable properties for sustainability assessment. The application of this outranking approach was undertaken in three separate settings: long-term from 1960 to 2003, medium-term, 1970-1995, and short-term, 1995-2003 with varying numbers of criteria. The response of results to the addition of evaluating criteria and periods was tested. The degree of credibility for accepting preference relations was also employed for sensitivity analysis. According to the results of long-term and medium-term assessments, especially in the weak sustainability setting, sustainable progress is taking place in Austria. In the short term, in the stronger sustainability setting and, especially as the number of criteria increases, more incomparable periods appear and trends are less determined. Moreover, it is shown how results crucially depend on the methodological choices. This is one of the first applications of the multi-criteria tools to the dynamic analysis of sustainability at the macro scale.

Suggested Citation

  • Shmelev, Stanislav E. & Rodríguez-Labajos, Beatriz, 2009. "Dynamic multidimensional assessment of sustainability at the macro level: The case of Austria," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(10), pages 2560-2573, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:68:y:2009:i:10:p:2560-2573
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Shmelev, Stanislav E., 2011. "Dynamic sustainability assessment: The case of Russia in the period of transition (1985-2008)," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(11), pages 2039-2049, September.
    2. Farrahi Moghaddam, Reza & Farrahi Moghaddam, Fereydoun & Cheriet, Mohamed, 2013. "A modified GHG intensity indicator: Toward a sustainable global economy based on a carbon border tax and emissions trading," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 363-380.
    3. Floridi, Matteo & Pagni, Simone & Falorni, Simone & Luzzati, Tommaso, 2011. "An exercise in composite indicators construction: Assessing the sustainability of Italian regions," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(8), pages 1440-1447, June.
    4. Bojkovic, Natasa & Anic, Ivan & Pejcic-Tarle, Snezana, 2010. "One solution for cross-country transport-sustainability evaluation using a modified ELECTRE method," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(5), pages 1176-1186, March.
    5. Stanislav Edward Shmelev (ODID), "undated". "Multi-criteria Assessment of Ecosystems and Biodiversity: New Dimensions and Stakeholders in the South of France," QEH Working Papers qehwps181, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
    6. Lindmark, Magnus & Acar, Sevil, 2013. "Sustainability in the making? A historical estimate of Swedish sustainable and unsustainable development 1850–2000," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 176-187.
    7. Stanislav Edward Shmelev (ODID), "undated". "Dynamic Sustainability Assessment: The Case of Russia in the Period of Transition (1985-2007)," QEH Working Papers qehwps182, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
    8. Wang, Q. & Poh, K.L., 2014. "A survey of integrated decision analysis in energy and environmental modeling," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 691-702.
    9. Kurka, Thomas & Blackwood, David, 2013. "Participatory selection of sustainability criteria and indicators for bioenergy developments," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 92-102.
    10. Stanislav Edward Shmelev (ODID), "undated". "Environmentally Extended Input-Output Analysis of the UK Economy: Key Sector Analysis," QEH Working Papers qehwps183, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
    11. Diaz-Balteiro, L & González-Pachón, J. & Romero, C., 2017. "Measuring systems sustainability with multi-criteria methods: A critical review," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 258(2), pages 607-616.
    12. Jeffrey Wilson & Peter Tyedmers, 2013. "Rethinking What Counts. Perspectives on Wellbeing and Genuine Progress Indicator Metrics from a Canadian Viewpoint," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(1), pages 1-16, January.
    13. Blancas, Francisco J. & Caballero, Rafael & González, Mercedes & Lozano-Oyola, Macarena & Pérez, Fátima, 2010. "Goal programming synthetic indicators: An application for sustainable tourism in Andalusian coastal counties," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(11), pages 2158-2172, September.
    14. Shmelev, Stanislav E. & van den Bergh, Jeroen C.J.M., 2016. "Optimal diversity of renewable energy alternatives under multiple criteria: An application to the UK," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 679-691.

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