As a consequence of the impact of sustainability on agricultural production systems, a standardized framework to monitor sustainable development would have great practical utility. The objective of this paper is to introduce fuzzy set theory and develop fuzzy mathematical models to assess sustainable development based on context-dependent economic, ecological, and societal sustainability indicators. Membership functions are at the core of fuzzy models, and define the degree to which indicators contribute to development. Although a decision-making process regarding sustainable development is subjective, fuzzy set theory links human expectations about development, expressed in linguistic propositions, to numerical data, expressed in measurements of sustainability indicators. In the future, practical implementation of such models will be based on elicitation of expert knowledge to construct a membership function. The fuzzy models developed in this paper provide a novel approach to support decisions regarding sustainable development.

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Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
Erasmus School of Economics

Cornelissen, A. M. G., van den Berg, J., Koops, W. J., Grossman, M., & Udo, H. (2001). Assessment of the contribution of sustainability indicators to sustainable development: A novel approach using fuzzy set theory. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 86(2), 173–185. doi:10.1016/S0167-8809(00)00272-3