Are small municipalities prepared to use SIs? The case of Thailand

Umaporn Pupphachai*, Christian Zuidema

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

47 Downloads (Pure)


Sustainability indicators are among the tools used to help towns and cities inform and evaluate their sustainable development strategies. Research into sustainability indicators has mostly targeted large cities and developed countries. Little is known of the role of sustainability indicators in pursuing sustainability by smaller towns, notably in developing countries. Nevertheless, small towns are home to a majority of the population in most developing countries. Their governments, in the meantime, are typically highly constrained when it comes to available staff and resources, also when it comes to using sustainability indicators. This study into seven Thai municipalities investigates how the Thailand Sustainable Cities Indicators’ (TSCI) is prioritized, used, and translated into local impact. While explicitly connecting to the TSCI, the investigation ends with some key considerations upon its use, coping strategies, and how improvement may be pursued. The results show that the TSCI is making an impact, albeit not necessarily as structured or clear as the UN might have envisioned. The study illustrates empirical evidence of problems and limitations small municipalities are facing and reveals the creative efforts of small municipalities in coping with such issues. Small municipalities are found to be limited in terms of instrumental uses, while a much more nuanced picture emerges when it comes to conceptual use. Furthermore, some general clues to improve how it might be used locally are also suggested.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100162
JournalEnvironmental and Sustainability Indicators
Publication statusPublished - Feb-2022


  • Conceptual use
  • Instrumental use
  • Local government
  • Municipality
  • Sustainability indicators
  • Sustainable development
  • Urban sustainability

Cite this