Volume 11, Issue 1 (2023)

doi: 10.12924/cis2023.11010001 | Volume 11 (2023) | Issue 1
Publication Date: 21 March 2023

This manuscript presents an analysis of commercially developed appraisal instruments (CDAIs) using composite indices to assess, compare and rank the sustainability performance of cities and communities. A group of CDAIs using composite indices are commonly used to assess, compare, and rank the sustainability performance of cities and communities. As a sustainability assessment methodology, composite indices gather qualitative and quantitative information which is then used to calculate the overall performance of the principle (e.g., sustainability); the stand-alone number, commonly known as an index, is often used to compare and rank performance. Because of practicality and mistakenly perceived simplicity, the assessment methodology is often misunderstood and underestimated. Issues, skepticism, and criticism surrounding composite indices are rooted in the lack of structured and transparent methodological frameworks for the identification and selection of elements within each hierarchical level. Although scientifically-based methodologies and processes have been developed to assign relevance (i.e., weighting) and aggregate performance to calculate the stand-alone index, the effectiveness of the assessment methodology (i.e., composite indices) is still influenced by various degrees and types of subjectivity and uncertainty. To evaluate their effectiveness, the manuscript discusses three characteristics of CDAIs using composite indices: (1) the hierarchical structural organization (HSO) considers the aim of each hierarchical level in the assessment process, (2) the identification, selection and design of the elements (e.g., principle, sub-principles, criteria, indicators) included in each hierarchical level as a determinant factor in capturing the various facets of the sustainable development notion, and (3) the quantification methodology (i.e., weighting and aggregation system [W&AS]) implemented by the developer or proponent of the assessment tool. The analysis of CDAIs using composite indices effectiveness is partially assisted by three frameworks designed by consensus (FDC): (1) ISO 37130:2018 Sustainable development of communities—Indicators for city services and quality of life which is complemented with ISO 37122:2019 Sustainable cities and communities—Indicators for smart cities and ISO 37123:2019 Sustainable cities and communities—Indicators for resilient cities, (2) United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) with emphasis on Goal 11, and (3) customized frameworks for sustainable cities (CFSS) with a focus on sustainability plans designed and implemented by the cities of Vancouver and Montreal which are used as case studies. While the findings support the applicability and usefulness of CDAIs using composite indices as assessment methodology, the appropriateness of comparing and ranking the sustainability performance of cities and communities is an unsettled debate with several areas for improvement and future research.

doi: 10.12924/cis2023.11010019 | Volume 11 (2023) | Issue 1
Cesar A. Poveda
School of Engineering, Mathematics and Science, Robert Morris University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Publication Date: 15 June 2023

Capturing the various facets of sustainable development is the main objective of sustainability assess- ment studies. Scientists and practitioners use sustainable development criteria and indicators as instruments to link the theoretical definitions with the evaluation of the effectiveness of management strategies; therefore, identifying and selecting indicators are the most critical processes in evaluating the implementation of sustainable development strategies and progress toward achieving sustainability goals and objectives. The manuscript argues the need for increasing credibility in the identification and selection of criteria and indicators through stakeholder engagement, participation and management. Sustainability aims to primarily address and balance the [social, economic, environmental] needs and expectations of stakeholders; therefore, reaching consensus amongst the various groups of stakeholders became the determining factor in the design, implementation, and assessment of sustainable development strategies. Because a precise definition of sustainability that is universally agreed upon is yet to be introduced, the process of identifying and selecting indicators to assess progress toward achieving sustainable development is embedded in subjectivity and vagueness and can be easily manipulated to meet particular interests. Furthermore, the absence of rigorous and standardized methodological frameworks contributes to continuously proposing set indicators that best capture the notion of sustainable development which creates distrust in the assessment process and directly affects the credibility of the sustainability concept. Departing from acknowledging the relevance of stakeholders groups in decision-making and management processes, the manuscript identifies and discusses three credible and reliable frameworks designed by consensus (FDC) to identify and select criteria and indicators to assess the sustainability performance of cities and communities: (1) ISO 37130:2018 which is complemented by ISO 37122:2019, (2) United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) with focus on Goal 11, and (3) customized frameworks for sustainable cities (CFSS). To minimize subjectivity and strengthen credibility, the manuscript also makes the case for the need of embedding FDC into sustainability assessment processes to identify and select criteria and indicators. Because of the methodology adopted for their development, FDC provide scientists and practitioners with reliable and credible sources to identify and select criteria and indicators for the assessment of the sustainability performance of cities and communities.

doi: 10.12924/cis2023.11010034 | Volume 11 (2023) | Issue 1
Gabriel Yahya Haage
McGill University, Natural Resource Sciences Department, Neotropical Concentration, Economics for the Anthropocene, Quebec, Canada
Publication Date: 1 October 2023

The Bayano region, in Panama, has been linked to many different stakeholders who were or are influenced by the Bayano dam, which was completed in 1976 and flooded a large area. Stakeholder Tables are a good way of exploring the views of stakeholders and their relationships. They can also help in identifying Hidden Stakeholders. Hidden Stakeholders refer to stakeholders who use or are impacted by regions or events, but are generally ignored. In this study, several sources, including discussions with community members and workshop results, were used to develop a Stakeholder Table for the Bayano region. Stakeholders include displaced Guna and Embera indigenous communities. In order to identify Hidden Stakeholders, the table was applied to relevant court cases and agreements, with Hidden Stakeholders being those who were not addressed in these documents. Hidden Stakeholders include indigenous individuals who raise cattle or are involved in tree felling, along with tourism industries. Using some follow-up workshops to collect potential interventions, a Relational Values approach was used to find sustainable projects and methods that can target multiple Hidden Stakeholders at the same time.

doi: 10.12924/cis2023.11010046 | Volume 11 (2023) | Issue 1
Stephen Quilley
University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Publication Date: 23 December 2023

Linking Norbert Elias’s concept of the triad of controls, to Andrew Willard Jones’ analysis of the ‘complete act’, the paper outlines the relation between culture and personality and the implications of this for any project of localization and the re-embedding of the economy. Re-iterating the reality that degrowth cannot be a liberal project, the paper goes on to explore the relation between Western individualism and Judeo-Christianity. Shorn of the overarching ontology and orienting architecture of Christianity, individualism has become corrosive, unstable and, in the end, self-destructive. The socially conservative preoccupation with a decline in virtue is linked to eroding social capital, anomie, and unhappiness arising from a surfeit of freedom. Hyper-social and -spatial mobility is linked to the suppression of the domain of Livelihood, with its bottom-up, communitarian and family-based forms of social regulation; and a corollary expansion of both top-down collectivist regulation by the State and the transactional logic of the Market. Livelihood is a function of embedded individuals enmeshed in relations not only with other individuals and groups, but with God. In contrast, the materialist metaphysics of Market and State both depend on disembedded, free-wheeling citizen-consumers, severed from any relation to transcendent values. But these same phenomena are also the principal drivers of consumption and ecological degradation. On this basis it is argued that any culture of ecological restraint predicated on the re-embedding of markets must also entail an ontological re-embedding of the sacred conception of the individual (the Imago Dei) into a relation with the divine. Such a project implies a very different understanding of freedom predicated on an external, legitimate authority; a freedom that is ‘fullest not when it serves itself but when it serves truths freely held” ([1], Loc. 419). Applying Christopher Alexander’s theory of pattern languages, the paper goes on to explore what such a sustainability project might look like.

ISSN: 2297-6477
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