Sustainability is defined as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. Commonly, it is evaluated using three basic dimensions: social, economic, and environmental. Ideally, the best sustainability situation would be attained when maximizing the benefits in the economic, social, and environmental dimensions, but there is a natural conflict among these three dimensions.
Here, we study the sustainability performance of European Countries by applying a methodology that combines both multiple criteria decision-making techniques and econometrics. Using individual sustainability development indicators available in the EUROSTAT database (from 2010-2019), we first build composite indicators to assess the economic, social, and environmental dimensions of the territories, using the Multiple Reference Point Weak and Strong Composite Indicators methodology. Secondly, we perform an econometric analysis to regress the composite indicators only considering individual indicators that are controllable by policy makers. The purpose is to get insights into the impact that a modification of these controllable individual indicators would have on the overall sustainable development of the territories.
Finally, we focus on Spain, whose sustainability situation can be improved. However, to make a decision about how to improve its situation, further information is needed in order to know the extent of the possible improvement, the trade-offs existing among the dimensions, and how this improvement could be attained. Therefore, we build a multiobjetive optimization problem based on the econometric analysis to identify the most desired compromise among the three dimensions to enhance the sustainability situation of Spain. Using preference-based multiobjective optimization techniques, we solve the problem with different preferences to analyse the possible improvements that could be achieved under different scenarios.