Sustainability assessment of development scenarios: methodology and application to Thailand
This paper aims to offer an applicable evaluation framework for assessing sustainable development strategies at the regional level, with a particular view on the treatment of uncertain information. After a survey of various regional sustainable development studies, several methodological issues pertaining to regional sustainability are presented and discussed, which lay the foundation for the central approach in this paper, viz. the use of critical threshold values. Based on a multidimensional indicator system, a systematic multicriteria model is proposed by employing the recently developed and user-friendly flag model. This model is able to take into consideration various relevant classes of (non) compliance with critical threshold values. By means of this model an empirical case study is undertaken for the Songkhla/Hat Yai area in southern Thailand. Three policy scenario's (decentralization, sectoral and regional promotion and environmental protection) are systematically evaluated using a blend of the above-mentioned critical threshold value and the flag approach. It is concluded that in general the decentralization policy is slightly more preferable than the sectoral and regional development scenario and significantly more preferable than the environmental protection scenario for the region concerned. The analytical tools used (a qualitative systems approach, the use of critical threshold values and the flag model) appeared to yield a satisfactory contribution to sustainability assessment, even in case of qualitative information.