Comprehensive Evaluation of Resource and Environmental Carrying Capacity at a National Scale: A Case Study of Southeast Asia

Sustainability(2023)

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Abstract
Country-level resource and environmental carrying capacity (RECC) assessments can reveal which countries are off-track on ongoing adaptive management towards the sustainability goals. However, fewer effective methods exist to conduct a comprehensive assessment of RECC at the country-level. We implemented the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) to comprehensively evaluate the spatial and temporal evolution of RECC from 1990 to 2020, based on the construction of evaluation indicators of regional characteristics derived from remote sensing (RS) and statistical data for 11 Southeast Asian countries. The results show that: (1) In terms of per capita level, most countries in Southeast Asia show a trend of increasing and then decreasing RECC, with lower RECC levels in the east and north, such as Myanmar and Vietnam, and higher levels in the west and south, such as Indonesia and Brunei. (2) In terms of absolute total, most countries in Southeast Asia show a slow increase in RECC, except for Thailand, which slightly decreases, with lower RECC in northern and central counties, such as Laos and Singapore, and higher in other regions, such as Indonesia and the Philippines. Therefore, we recommend that policymakers pay more attention to the control of population size and adhere to a green economic growth model to alleviate the declining trend of recent RECC. This study proposed a comprehensive evaluation method of RECC that address the challenge of assessing different countries with resource and ecological imbalance, which provides potential GIS solutions for in-depth RECC assessment of other countries in the world. Meanwhile, this paper provides insights for Southeast Asian countries to achieve better sustainable development from the perspective of RECC.
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Key words
RECC,analytic hierarchy process,sustainable development,SEA,country-level evaluation
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