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Regional sustainability : how useful are current tools of sustainability assessment at the regional scale?
journal contributionposted on 2008-10-15, 00:00 authored by Michelle Graymore, N Sipe, R Rickson
Sustainability assessment methods are primarily aimed at global, national or state scales. However, modelling sustainability at finer spatial scales, such as the region, is essential for understanding and achieving sustainability. Regions are emerging as an essential focus for sustainability researchers, natural resource managers and strategic planners working to develop and implement sustainability goals. This paper evaluates the effectiveness of current sustainability assessment methods – ecological footprint, wellbeing assessment, ecosystem health assessment, quality of life and natural resource availability – at the regional scale. Each of these assessment methods are tested using South East Queensland (SEQ) as a case study. It was selected because of its ecological and demographic diversity, its combination of coastal and land management issues, and its urban metropolitan and rural farm and non-farm communities. The applicability of each of these methods to regional assessment was examined using an evaluation criteria matrix, which describes the attributes of an effective method and the characteristics that make these methods useful for regional management and building community capacity to progress sustainability. We found that the methods tested failed to effectively measure progress toward sustainability at the regional scale, demonstrating the need for a new method for assessing regional sustainability.