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Investigating factors affecting Sustainable Development and formulating Sustainability-Related Scenarios in Mashhad Metropolis, Iran

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This descriptive-analytical study was carried out in Mashhad metropolis and based on both primary and secondary data sources. The study utilises official documents, questionnaires, interviews schedule and software (MICMAC and SCENARIO WIZARD) to get the results. Based on previous studies, 30 primary variables of sustainability were selected and finally, based on the opinions of 120 experts; six key variables in economic, socio-cultural, physical and environmental dimensions were identified and evaluated in the MICMAC software cross-impact matrix for 13 regions of Mashhad metropolis. Then, by determining the optimal, moderate, and catastrophic states for each of the key variables, the effects of these conditions on each other were determined in the interval of 3 to-3. In this way, using the SCENARIO WIZARD software, the patterns of the study areas could be determined. The results of this analysis included one optimal scenario and one catastrophic scenario for the advantaged areas, three optimal scenarios, one moderate and one catastrophic scenario for the semi-advantaged areas, and five optimal scenarios, one moderate scenario, and one catastrophic scenario for the disadvantaged areas. According to these results, it seems that unless policy-making and development projects are substantially transformed, it will not be possible to follow moderate scenarios, but also the catastrophic scenarios will prevail throughout the city. Accordingly, the strategic recommendation of the research is to pursue optimal scenarios in all regions under study.
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Article
Investigating factors affecting Sustainable
Development and formulating Sustainability-Related
Scenarios in Mashhad Metropolis, Iran
Rostam Saberifar 1 and Prabuddh Kumar Mishra 2,*
1 Department of Geography Payam Noor University, Tehran, Iran, Email- saberifar@yahoo.com
2 Department of Geography, Shivaji College, University of Delhi, India, Email- prabuddh@shivaji.du.ac.in
* Correspondence: prabuddh@shivaji.du.ac.in; Tel.: +91 9711440385
Abstract: This descriptive-analytical study was carried out in Mashhad metropolis and based on both primary
and secondary data sources. The study utilises official documents, questionnaires, interviews schedule and
software (MICMAC and SCENARIO WIZARD) to get the results. Based on previous studies, 30 primary
variables of sustainability were selected and finally, based on the opinions of 120 experts; six key variables in
economic, socio-cultural, physical and environmental dimensions were identified and evaluated in the MICMAC
software cross-impact matrix for 13 regions of Mashhad metropolis. Then, by determining the optimal, moderate,
and catastrophic states for each of the key variables, the effects of these conditions on each other were
determined in the interval of 3 to -3. In this way, using the SCENARIO WIZARD software, the patterns of the
study areas could be determined. The results of this analysis included one optimal scenario and one catastrophic
scenario for the advantaged areas, three optimal scenarios, one moderate and one catastrophic scenario for the
semi-advantaged areas, and five optimal scenarios, one moderate scenario, and one catastrophic scenario for the
disadvantaged areas. According to these results, it seems that unless policy-making and development projects
are substantially transformed, it will not be possible to follow moderate scenarios, but also the catastrophic
scenarios will prevail throughout the city. Accordingly, the strategic recommendation of the research is to pursue
optimal scenarios in all regions under study.
Keywords: Sustainability; Scenario development; Mashhad- Iran.
1. Introduction
Rapid urbanization often results in the loss of land and valuable natural ecosystems in order
to meet the daily needs of citizens; a process that will lead to more environmental and social
challenges. In order to deal with this trend, several paradigms have been put forward, the
most famous of which is sustainable development (Saberifar, 2009: 13). In particular,
following this trend in cities facing high production and population densities is strongly
emphasized. Therefore, various organizations have made great efforts in this area and as a
result, many concepts and definitions of the sustainable city have been proposed and
developed (Shen et al., 2011). The European Commission (2018), for example, defines urban
sustainability as a challenge in solving urban problems, and believes that a sustainable city
is a city where the flow of resources and energy does not exceed environmental capacity
(European Commission, 2018). Many believe, however, that sustainability is a complex
concept for which it is impossible to provide a definite and exact meaning (Lele, 1991: 609).
However, many studies have been carried out in this connection and numerous aspects and
dimensions of this issue have been illustrated. For example, Sims et al (2019) have proposed
strategies to prevent land degradation within the framework of the UN Sustainable
Development Goals. Phillis et al. (2017) also selected 106 cities across the world using fuzzy
method and ranked the cities by the use of 46 variables. Morelli also argued that
environmental sustainability is a concept toward conservation that links human needs and
ecosystem services without compromising ecosystem health (Morelli, 2011). Egger stated
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that the global system of urban areas is interconnected through business communication,
migration, capital, and information flows and that control of the external conditions is also
largely impossible (Egger, 2006: 1236).
In Iran, transformations related to urbanization and housing in over 70% of urban areas
have had significant negative effects on the efficiency of cities in meeting the needs of
residents (Azizi, 2006: 36). To this end, these challenges need to be carefully analyzed in
accordance with the sustainability perspective (Gonzalo et al., 2015: 16). In particular, the
existence of significant differences between poor and rich neighborhoods and the persistent
exacerbation of this gap, the determination of the factors involved in this process, and the
level of intervention to improve the current situation, necessitate careful studies. Like most
Iranian metropolises, Mashhad, as the second largest metropolis, has special conditions
because the population growth in this city is very high with an average of 7.5% during
different years on average (Statistical Yearbook of Mashhad, 2017). For this reason,
unemployment, social issues, disintegration of urban texture, urban sprawl, urban
landscape disruption, unthoughtful urban construction have led to the most critical
conditions for the urban environment. This is while, planning for cities and especially for
each area is very sophisticated due to the involvement of environmental factors and
different needs of citizens and it is sometimes impossible to balance between the dimensions
of sustainability and the daily needs of residents (Ibrahim et al., 2015: 323); a necessity that
raises the issue of smart design and planning for the future of cities (Rafiepour, et al., 2016:
2). The purpose of this study is to achieve this goal in the city of Mashhad with the help of
urban planning knowledge and future research.
2. Materials and Methods
The research method in this study was descriptive-analytical, while the required data and
information were obtained from existing documents along with supplementary
questionnaires. The collected data were evaluated using software analyses. In fact, after
collecting data from different study sources, 30 variables were finally selected and included
in the final model for data collection and identification of primary variables. Available
sampling method was used in the present study. Accordingly, experts and researchers
willing to interview and complete the questionnaire were invited to answer the questions.
The significance of the selected indicators was determined in the framework of cross-impact
matrix within the range of 0 to 3 in which, zero meant no impact, one meant weak impact,
two meant moderate impact, three meant high impact, and P meant direct and indirect
impacts potentially. Finally, the scores were entered into the MICMAC and SCENARIO
WIZARD software and Mashhad conditions were measured. It should be noted that since it
was not possible to present the results for the 13 districts of Mashhad, the areas were
categorized into three groups of wealthy, semi-wealthy and disadvantaged according to
which the final results were provided.
2.1 Study Area
Mashhad is the second largest metropolitan area of Iran, with an area of over 300 square
kilometers and a population of more than three million (Statistical Yearbook of Mashhad,
2017). The city is administratively divided into 13 districts, with vast differences in
population and area. For this reason, in this study, the 13 districts of this city are classified
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into three groups (Saberifar, 2017) prosperous (advantaged), semi-prosperous (semi-
advantaged) and non-prosperous disadvantaged (Figure.1).
Figure 1. Development level of Mashhad area
According to statistics, approximately one-third of the population of Mashhad now
resides in the low-lying areas. In fact, the city has 8 main zones and 66 suburban
neighborhoods that accommodate more than 922,000 people. In other words, out of the 13
municipal districts in the city, seven districts have suburban population. In addition, more
than 19 percent of the city's area is considered worn-out, and with the exception of district
11, the worn-out texture ranges from at least 2 to a maximum of 77 percent of the total area
of other districts. At present, more than 52 square kilometers of the city area is devoted to
worn-out textures, accommodating a population of over 500,000. The concentration of worn-
out and suburban areas in certain parts of the city along with the concentration of
population and other factors have made the region economically and regionally significant
as well. This difference, of course, is also evident within each district.
Due to other conditions and especially the price of land, high quality and big houses are
usually found in advantaged areas. For example, in the case study, it was found that the
share of large-scale units in advantaged areas was 8 to 10 times that of disadvantaged areas.
Comparison of the licenses issued in the city also shows that the dominant tendency of
construction in advantaged areas is high-rise and over 5 floors. However, in the
disadvantaged part, three- and four-story units are dominant. Further investigations
indicate that construction in disadvantaged areas has been often carried out on the lands
without the necessary infrastructure (brownfields). However, advantaged areas experience
an opposite trend. These conditions lead to more and more visible gaps associated with
facilities through the physical development of the districts, increasing the area of suburbs.
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3. Results
According to the matrix used in this study and the respondents' comments, the status of
each district was determined separately and finally, in order to reduce the data size, it was
presented in three groups. Initial analysis of the matrix data and impacts showed that some
of the houses were matrix zero, meaning that the factors were not influenced by each other.
However, about 17 percent of the houses had one, 19 percent two and more than 25 percent
three common aspects. In other words, more than 60 percent of factors were somehow
related to one another and affect each other (Table 1).
Table 1: Initial Analysis of Matrix Data and its Statistics
District
Matrix
Dimensions
Number of
Repetitions
No
Impact
(0)
Low
Impact
(1)
Average
Impact
(2)
High
Impact
(3)
Tot
al
Advantaged
30-30
3
351
153
171
225
900
Semi-
advantaged
30-30
3
351
153
171
225
900
Disadvantaged
30-30
3
351
153
171
225
900
3.1 Impact Analysis of Direct Dependence of Sustainability Variables in Advantaged
Areas
According to the data collected, awareness of projects, participation in projects and
municipal accountability in the institutional sector; building strength, age of buildings and
adaptability of land uses (physical); income (economic) and population density
(environmental) were put in the direct impact matrix. However, inadequate pavement
quality and texture (physical), sense of belonging and security (socio-cultural), and
ownership (economic) were considered as the dependent variables. Also, membership in
NGOs and referrals to the municipality (institutional); household density, education and
communication with neighbors (socio-cultural); noise pollution, water and air quality
(environmental); diversity of housing (physical) and activity rate (economic) were
independent variables of the system. Bidirectional variables included identity (socio-
cultural), bicycle path (environmental), public areas and different land use per capita
(physical) and land value (economic) variables. Among the bi-directional variables, identity,
bicycle path, land value, public transportation and public areas were considered as the key
system variables.
3.2 Impact Analysis of Direct Dependence of Sustainability Variables in the Semi-
advantaged Areas
Within this range, the variables of land use compatibility, services, building strength, age of
buildings and land use compatibility (physical), income (economic) and land use
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interference were included in the direct impact matrix for environmental criterion. Bicycle
path, population density and water quality (environmental); low-quality housing (physical);
household density in housing unit (socio-cultural) and employment rate (economic) were
assessed as independent variables. Bidirectional variables included identity (socio-cultural);
public transportation (environmental); buildings strength and services (physical) and land
value (economic) variables. Bidirectional variables were identity, bicycle path, land value,
public transportation, and public areas. Among the two bidirectional variables, land value,
public transportation, quality of sidewalks and public areas were the key variables of the
system.
3.3 Impact Analysis of Direct Dependence of Stability Variables in Disadvantaged Areas
In disadvantaged areas, participation in projects (institutional) and income (economic) were
independent variables. The variables of sense of belonging, identity and security (socio-
cultural), land value and ownership of housing (economic) and public transportation
(ecological) were the dependent variables. Municipal accountability, membership of NGOs,
awareness of plans and referrals to the municipality (institutional); noise and air pollution
and water quality (environmental); diversity of housing (physical); education,
communication with neighbors (socio-cultural) and activity rates (economic) were evaluated
as independent variables. Also, the age of buildings, different land use per capita, quality of
sidewalks, public areas, buildings strength and inefficient texture (fully physical) were bi-
directional variables. Among the bi-directional variables, land use per capita, building
strength and inefficient texture were identified as key variables.
Impact Analysis of Indirect Dependence of Sustainability Variables in Advantaged Areas
According to calculations and investigations, influential and critical variables of this
area were participation in projects, municipal accountability and awareness of the projects
(institutional); land use compatibility and buildings age (physical); income (economic) and
population density (environmental). Dependent variables were also sidewalk quality
(physical); housing ownership (economic); noise pollution (environmental), and sense of
belonging as well as security. For the bi-directional variables, land use per capita, services,
public areas, and inefficient texture (physical); bicycle path, public transportation
(environmental) and identity (socio-cultural) were more important. Among these variables,
services, land value, bicycle paths, public transportation, and public areas played a key role.
Finally, referrals to the municipality and membership in NGOs (institutional); building
strength and diversity of housing (physical); weather (environmental) quality; activity rate
(economic); education, communication with neighbors and household density in housing
unit(Socio-cultural) were classified as independent variables.
3.4. Impact Analysis of Indirect Dependence of Sustainability Variables in Semi-
advantaged Areas
Results showed that awareness of projects, referral to municipality and municipal
accountability (institutional); employment and income (economic) and household density in
residential unit (socio-cultural); air and water quality, noise pollution and population
density (environmental) and housing diversity and sidewalk conditions (economic) were
indirect independent variables. Also, municipal accountability (institutional); land use
compatibility (physical); activity rate (economic) and identity (socio-cultural) were indirect
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influential variables. However, the value of land (economic); public transportation
(environmental) and identity, security, sense of belonging, and communication with
neighbors (socio-cultural) were indirect dependent variables. Public areas, age and strength
of buildings, and quality of sidewalks (physical); bicycle path (environmental) and land
value (economic) were evaluated as bidirectional variables. Among these variables, land use
per capita, land value, and quality of sidewalks were the key variables.
3.5 Impact Analysis of Indirect Dependence of Sustainability Variables in Disadvantaged
Areas
Results showed that referral to municipality and membership in NGOs (institutional);
activity rate (economic) and household density in residential unit (socio-cultural); air and
water quality variables, noise pollution and bicycle path (environmental); and housing
diversity (economic)were indirect independent variables. Also, participation (institutional);
access (physical), income (economic) and education (socio-cultural) were indirect influential
variables. In contrast, ownership (economic); population density (environmental); and
security (socio-cultural) were the indirect dependent variables. Land use per capita,
inefficient texture, strength of buildings and quality of sidewalks (physical), bicycle path
(environmental) and land value (economic) were evaluated as bidirectional variables.
Among these variables, land value, inefficient texture and quality of buildings were the key
variables.
3.6 Impact Analysis of the Direct and Indirect Potential Dependence of Sustainability
Variables in Mashhad Districts
Combined investigation of the selected variables showed that in advantaged areas the
variables of participation in projects, different land use per capita and public areas were at
the first to the third priorities of the potential direct impact, but in semi-advantaged areas,
public areas, inefficient texture and old age of the buildings assigned the first to the third
places of the direct impacts to themselves. However, in disadvantaged areas, inefficient
texture and building strength were at the first to the third priorities of the potential direct
impacts. Participation in projects, different land uses per capita and municipal
accountability were the most influential potential indirect variables in the advantaged areas.
In semi-advantaged areas, municipal accountability, public areas and inefficient texture and
in disadvantaged areas, inefficient texture, and building strength had the first to the third
priorities of potential indirect impacts. Inefficient texture, sense of belonging and security in
advantaged areas; security, worn-out texture, and sense of belonging in semi-advantaged
areas, and inefficient texture, sense of belonging, and strength of the buildings in
disadvantaged areas were potential direct influential variables. Variables of inefficient
texture, sense of belonging and security were at the first to the third priorities of indirect
dependent variables in advantaged areas. However, security, inefficient texture, and sense
of belonging had the first to the third place of indirect dependent variables. But in
disadvantaged areas, inefficient texture and sense of belonging were the first and second
priorities of the potential indirect impact, while the third rank of potential indirect impact
was assigned to the security variable.
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3.7 Identifying the Key Driving Variables
Based on all the information gathered and the assessments made, it can be stated that in the
advantaged areas, identity, bicycle path, public transportation, public areas, services and
land value are the key driving forces. In the semi-advantaged areas, public areas, land use
per capita, quality of sidewalks and services are the key driving forces. However, these
conditions include the strength of buildings, public areas, inefficient texture and land value
for disadvantaged areas. In fact, advantaged areas have a higher economic and social base
disadvantaged compared to disadvantaged areas and, therefore, this factor is influential in
different aspects of the study areas, including physical, economic and environmental, so the
key development drivers of each of them act differently.
3.8 Developing Sustainability Scenarios
Based on the identified variables, optimal, catastrophic and moderate conditions can be
plotted for each, so that the required strategies can be formulated. The horizon of these
projects in this study is 10 years, which means that it is possible to develop different
scenarios for each region whose full specifications are presented in Tables 2 to 4.
Table 2. Status of key driving variables in sustainability in the advantaged areas
Area
Key factor/
Scenario
Optimal
Scenario
Moderate
Scenario
Catastrophic
Scenario
Advantaged
areas
Identity
Upgrading
elements of
urban identity
Stability of the
existing identity
Reduction of
elements with
urban identity
Bicycle -based
paths
Development of
bicycle-based
paths
Maintenance of
the existing of
bicycle-based
paths
Reduction of
bicycle-based
paths
The value of the
land
Stability of land
value
Increase of land
supply at a low
inflation rate
Increase of land
supply with
high inflation
rates
Public
transportation
Development of
public transport
network
infrastructure
Continuation of
the current
trend
Lack of
attention to
public transport
infrastructure
and capacities
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Table 3. Status of key driving variables in sustainability in the semi-advantaged areas
Areas
Key Factor/
Scenario
Optimal Scenario
Moderate Scenario
Catastrophic Scenario
Semi-advantaged
Areas
Public Areas
Quantitative and
qualitative
development of the
public areas
Preserving existing
public areas
Inattention to the
quantity and quality
of public areas
turning them into
other uses
Services
Creation and
development of
services taking into
account the access
radius of all services
Creation and
development of
services according
to the access radius
of some of them
Creation and
development of
services regardless of
their radius of access
Land Use Per
Capita
Creation and
development of land
uses according to the
proposed per capita
of upstream plan
Creation and
development of
land uses along
with the
shortcomings of
some land uses
Creation and
development of land
uses regardless of the
proposed per capita of
upstream plan
Quality of
Sidewalks
Improvement of the
quality and quantity
of sidewalks
Continuing the
current trend
Decrease of the
quantity and quality
of the sidewalks
Table 4. Status of key driving variables in sustainability in the disadvantaged areas
Areas
Key Factor/
Scenario
Optimal Scenario
Moderate
Scenario
Catastrophic
Scenario
Disadvantaged
Areas
Strength of
Buildings
Development of
durable materials
in the
construction of
buildings
Continuing the
current trend
Use of durable
materials
Inefficient
Texture (worn-
out and
marginal)
Resuscitation,
resuscitation and
prevention of
non-expansion of
inefficient
textures
Continuation of
the current status
of inefficient
textures
Expansion and
non-resuscitation
or regeneration of
inefficient textures
Public Areas
Quantitative and
qualitative
development of
the public areas
Preserving
existing public
areas
Inattention to the
quantity and
quality of public
areas turning
them into other
uses
The Value of the
Land
Creating
variation in land
value
continuing the
current trend
Decrease of
variation in land
value
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After numerous reforms carried out through various meetings based on the views of
experts in the field, it became clear that the continuation of the current situation, especially
in the disadvantaged areas, would lead to the catastrophic scenario. For this reason, it is
necessary to thoroughly and substantially review the existing scenarios. Based on the
findings of this study, two consistent scenarios can be supposed for advantaged areas. Given
that four factors will affect these areas in the future, 8 basic conditions are likely to be
imagined in this area for the years to come.
This situation for semi-advantaged areas also includes five different scenarios in the
form of three optimal scenarios, one moderate scenario and one catastrophic scenario. Of
course, there are six consistent scenarios for the disadvantaged areas, leading to a total
number of 24 different states if the effective factors on the sustainability of the area (4
factors) are also taken into account. Of course, not all of these options are fully desirable and
can be classified from the most optimal to the most catastrophic, depending on the
circumstances. Accordingly, the perceived future for Mashhad is be as presented in Table 5
to 7.
Table 5. Scenarios for the future of advantaged areas
Key Factor
Scenario One (Desirable)
Scenario Two (Disaster)
Identity
Upgrading elements of urban
identity
Reducing elements of urban
identity
Bicycle -based paths
Maintain existing of bicycle-
based paths
Reducing bicycle-based paths
The value of the land
Value stability
Increasing the value of land
with high inflation rates
Public transportation
Development of public
transport network
infrastructure
Continuation of the current
trend
Services
Creation and development of
services taking, into account
the access radius of all services
Creation and development of
services regardless of their
radius of access
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Table 6. Scenarios for the future of semi-advantaged areas
Scenario
Scenario 1
Scenario 2
Scenario 3
Scenario 4
Scenario 5
Key Factor
Optimal
Moderate
Catastrophic
Sidewalk
Quality
Quantitative and
qualitative
development of
sidewalks
Quantitative
and
qualitative
development
of sidewalks
Quantitative
and
qualitative
development
of sidewalks
Continuation of
the current trend
Quantitative and
qualitative reduction
of the sidewalks
Public
Areas
Quantitative and
qualitative
development of
public areas
Quantitative
and
qualitative
development
of public
areas
Quantitative
and
qualitative
development
of public
areas
Preserving the
existing public
areas
Inattention to the
quality and quantity
of public areas and,
converting them to
other uses
Services
Creation and
development of
services, taking
into account the
access radius of all
services
Improvement
of access
radius to
existing
services
Replacement
of low quality
services with
high quality
types
Continuation of
the current trend
Creation and
development of
services regardless of
their radius of access
Table 7. Scenarios for the future of disadvantaged areas
Scenario
Scenario 1
Scenario 2
Scenario 3
Scenario 4
Scenario 5
Scenario 5
Key Factor
Optimal
Moderate
Catastrophi
c
Strength of
buildings
Continuatio
n of the
current
trend
Development
of durable
materials in
building
construction
Continuation the
current trend
Development
of durable
materials in
building
construction
Continuatio
n of the
current
trend
Use of
nondurable
materials
Inefficient
texture
(worn-out
or
marginal)
Resuscitatio
n,
reconstructi
on, and
prevention
of inefficient
textures’
developmen
t
Resuscitation,
reconstruction,
and prevention
of inefficient
textures’
development
Resuscitation,
reconstruction,
and prevention
of inefficient
textures’
development
Resuscitation,
reconstructio
n, and
prevention of
inefficient
textures’
development
Continuatio
n of the
current
trend
Expansion
without
resuscitatio
n or
reconstructi
on of
inefficient
textures
The value
of the land
Continuatio
n the current
trend
Decrease of the
variation in
land value
Decrease of the
variation in land
value
Decrease of
the variation
in land value
Diversifying
the value of
land
Diversifyin
g the value
of land
Land uses
per capita
Creation
and
developmen
t of land
uses
according to
the
proposed
per capita of
upstream
plan
Creation and
development
of land uses
along with
some
shortcomings
Creation and
development of
land uses along
with some
shortcomings
Creation and
development
of land uses
along with
some
shortcoming
Creation and
developmen
t of land
uses
according to
the
proposed
per capita of
upstream
plan
Creation
and
developme
nt of land
uses
according
to the
proposed
per capita
of
upstream
plan
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In total, 4 key factors were identified for each region. In fact, identity, bicycle paths,
land and public transportation were the most important factors for sustainable future in the
developed areas, public areas, services and quality of the sidewalks were the most important
ones in the semi-advantaged areas, and ultimately the strength of the buildings, inefficient
texture, land value and land use per capita were the main factors for achieving a sustainable
future in the disadvantaged areas. Accordingly, different scenarios can be proposed for each
area. Although each of these factors can be examined in detail and it is possible to determine
their impacts on each other, two optimal scenarios for advantaged areas, five moderate
scenarios for semi-advantaged areas and six scenarios for disadvantaged areas have been
considered for bravity. Since desirability and effectiveness of these scenarios are affected by
different factors and contexts, their desirability needs to be determined at this stage.
According to investigations, the disadvantaged area had one optimal scenario and one
catastrophic scenario. However, the semi-advantaged scenarios three optimal, one
moderate, and one catastrophic scenario could be predicted. Finally, the disadvantaged
areas had four optimal, one moderate, and one catastrophic scenario.
4. Discussion
All the metropolises of Iran have numerous environmental, social and economic problems,
and there is a great deal of material and physical damage to citizens each year, so that in
some cities, including Mashhad, sometimes the number of healthy days is less than 100 days
(Statistical Yearbook of Mashhad, 2017). However, because of the lack of careful and
targeted investigations, the basic solution to this problem is overlooked. Even at best,
reactive measures are put forward that can only be considered as short-term solution for the
existing bottlenecks. Even in these conditions, more emphasis is placed on physical
dimensions and no action is taken on social, economic and institutional conditions (Momeni
et al., 2016: 107). For this reason, there has been a great deal of emphasis on the institutional
dimension in this study. The importance of this emphasis stems from the fact that in the
absence of this key factor, political pressures and sources of power have easily affected
allocation of resources and provision of facilities (Gonzalo et al., 2015) and perhaps this is
why the difference between urban areas in this city is significant and in fact unimaginable
(Saberifar, 2017). However, according to the results of this study, the institutional dimension
does not directly affect the sustainable development of the city, but it is strongly influential
on other variables (Ibrahim et al., 2015). Of course, the role and position of other dimensions
in this process also vary. For example, the physical, socio-cultural, economic, and
environmental dimensions in the advantaged areas and the physical dimension in the semi-
advantaged and disadvantaged areas are more important. This is also emphasized in
Saberifar's study (2017). However, depending on the factors influencing each area, different
scenarios are also proposed, so that an optimal scenario and a catastrophic scenario were
considered for advantaged areas with uniform conditions. However, three optimal
scenarios, one moderate scenario and one catastrophic scenario were considered for the
semi-advantaged areas, and finally for the disadvantaged areas four optimal scenarios, one
moderate scenario and one catastrophic scenario were considered. According to these
results, if optimal scenarios are realized, conditions will continue to improve toward
sustainability of most areas and when the moderate scenarios are considered, the current
situation will stabilize. Nevertheless, if the catastrophic scenario is dominant, the destruction
GEA (Geo Eco-Eco Agro) International Conference, 28-29 May 2020, Montenegro - Book of Proceedings
223
and reduction of sustainability factors will follow and even the current situation will not be
possible to continue, leading to crisis and major challenges.
5. Conclusions
The results of this analysis included one optimal scenario and one catastrophic scenario for
the advantaged areas, three optimal scenarios, one moderate and one catastrophic scenario
for the semi-advantaged areas, and five optimal scenarios, one moderate scenario, and one
catastrophic scenario for the disadvantaged areas. According to these results, it seems that
unless policy-making and development projects are substantially transformed, it will not be
possible to follow moderate scenarios, but also the catastrophic scenarios will prevail
throughout the city. Accordingly, the strategic recommendation of the research is to pursue
optimal scenarios in all regions under study.
This study also had some limitations such as lack of access to future plans and
projects in Mashhad. If these conditions were available, it would be possible to evaluate the
consistency of these predictions with the scenarios presented. In addition, due to different
bottlenecks, large random samples were not available in this study. For this reason, it is
suggested that in future research, future plans and projects are also considered while
coordinating with different institutions and investigating whether or not they correspond to
the scenarios developed. In addition, provision should be made for the views of more
groups of experts and researchers in the field.
Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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