Environmental sustainability and multifaceted development: multi-criteria decision models with applications

Cinzia Colapinto, Raja Jayaraman, Fouad Ben Abdelaziz, Davide La Torre

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    41 Scopus citations


    In recent years, decision makers, policy analysts, and other actors, have become increasingly aware of sustainability, and begun to combine economic, social and environmental criteria in their efforts to maintain competitiveness, long-term growth and development. In multiple stakeholder settings, the presence of diverse objectives and conflicting criteria often leads to a complex multi-criteria decision problem. The multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) offers an integrated framework to model and study sustainability criteria and related inter-criteria relationships. In this paper, we review some of the most significant literature on environmental sustainability, and categorise it to show how and why MCDA models are widely used and becoming increasingly popular. Our systematic analysis suggests that, there has been significant growth in environmental applications of MCDA in diverse areas, ranging from energy management and policy to land use, recycling management and sustainable tourism. Among the various MCDA methods and techniques, analytical hierarchy process, TOPSIS, and goal programming are the most frequently used approaches. Many authors use a combination of different MCDA techniques to balance various factors important to achieve sustainability related goals. We expect sustainability related criteria to be an essential consideration in most future multi-criteria models.

    Original languageBritish English
    Pages (from-to)405-432
    Number of pages28
    JournalAnnals of Operations Research
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - 1 Oct 2020


    • AHP
    • Environmental sustainability
    • Goal programming
    • Multi-criteria decision analysis
    • Review
    • TOPSIS


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