Document Type : Research Paper
Associate Professor of Geography and Urban Planning, Faculty of Geography, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran
MA in Geography and Urban Planning, Faculty of Geography, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran
City is a social realm on a natural context which is established by human beings to fulfil their basic needs for well-being, comfort and social relations. In the process of rapid urban growth and while the world moves into urban age, there are an array of problems and difficulties in genuine development. Thus, urban development is considered as one of the most important global challenges and its measurement is a controversial issue among policymakers and planners. During last decades, a variety of indices has been developed and applied to measure the level of development among cities. At the beginning, the economic indices were prevalent, since development was correlated with economic growth, especially GDP and income per capita. Gradually the deficiencies of this reductionist view became evident, recognizing other interrelated and imperative aspects. These results are obtained from composite indices with social and environmental components as well as economic one. Later with the growing consensus about the unsustainability of existing urban growth, the theoretical umbrella for measuring urban development has become sustainable development paradigm. Also, underlining both subjective and objective dimensions in one hand and emphasizing community-driven development on the other hand bring about the need for a holistic and inclusive index to embrace the ultimate outcome of development in a more generic term. In this regard, following dialogue of experts at United Nations Human Settlements Program (Habitat), a new index labelled as “City Prosperity Index” (CPI) was introduced in 2013 flagship report. The composite index of CPI contains five indices in the following dimensions including productivity, infrastructure, quality of life, equity and social inclusion, and environmental sustainability. It is emphasized that all these dimensions should be seen interactive and balanced in a wheel shape. UN-Habitat’s wheel of prosperity symbolizes the well balanced development of the five dimensions of prosperity, the current condition of which is measured through the City Prosperity Index (CPI). The ‘outer rim’ of the wheel absorbs the cumulative forces transmitted through the spokes – the five dimensions of prosperity. It provides some level of direction and symbolically contributes to guide the city towards a more prosperous path. Whereas CPI depicts strength and weakness of cities in each of five dimensions separately, it is considered as a strong tool for policy making to show the priority fields to guide the cities towards genuine development and its outcome prosperity. In the same vein, Iranian cities have also experienced fast growth and uneven development during the past decades exacerbating unsustainable development. It seems in light of CPI, a better measurement of development level of cities can be achieved to guide the policy makers for concentrating on most important shortcomings. At the same time, the comparison between the cities urges the backward cities to emulate the policies of upper cities in these measurements. At the same time, since comprehending development is a culturally sensitive issue, measuring development should be contextualized according to the target society. The authors argue that the cultural aspect with more emphasis on the subjective side of grasping development is crucial to Iranian citizens and, therefore, we have added the sixth dimension to CPI wheel. In other words, a city may enjoy all the five dimensions of CPI still missing the psychological health and social serenity. The sixth index named health and was added to CPI.
In this article, we have attempted to revise and apply CPI for cities with more than 100 thousands residents in north-western region of Iran. The research method is descriptive-analytical, using secondary data for the cities in 3 provinces of Ardebil, East Azerbaijan and West Azerbaijan. To apply Iranian CPI, 65 variables turned into indicators in six dimensions. To classify the cities, RALSPI model was recently developed by two Iranian scholars, was carried out as a method of multi-criteria decision making.
According to this model, by applying fuzzy method the indices were de-scaled. Then, for each indicator of Iranian CPI, we determined 2n+1 class of development and calculated the maximum and the minimum scores for each of the 6 indices. The weight of each variable/indicator was determined by applying Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) technique and the general score for each of the 6 indices was calculated through dividing the total weights of variables by the maximum possible scores in each group. Finally, the average scores of all 6 indices were calculated as the value of Iranian CPI for each of the cities in this research.
Results and discussion
The results of this research have identified 6 classes of cities ranging from strong to weak performance in terms of Iranian CPI. This means sharp inequality among the cities in this region from the viewpoint of prosperity. Tabriz as the capital of East Azerbaijan has the highest score at the first class, Then, Uremia as the capital of West Azerbaijan is categorized in the middle class. Khoy, Maragheh, Ardebil (Capital of Ardebil province), Mahabad, Miandoab, Marand and Boukan, all these cities fell into the lowest class, showing a serious cleavage. The findings indicate the regional disparity and uneven development in this region while the concentration of development facilities in the large cities is evident. Given that only one city is classified in each of the high and the middle classes, a kind of polarization process can be seen in the results.
The results show that most of the cities are in the lowest class of Iranian CPI. These cities have lower performance in dimensions of infrastructure, quality of life and health. Therefore, the initially prioritization suggests that dimensions of productivity, equity and social inclusion and environmental sustainability are in the following priorities. The study suggests the priorities for policy makers to uplift the situation of these cities. Disintegrating the Iranian CPI of each city in the 6 indices and measuring each one separately enable the urban managers to discrete the field of actions towards bringing about prosperity to the cities in the future.