Integrating Social, Economic, and Environmental Factors to Evaluate How Competitive Urban Landscapes Are for the Development of Sustainable Cities: Penang Island in Malaysia as a Case Study

Publication Name



The competitiveness of urban landscapes is a subject of growing attention as cities strive to become the best places to support enterprises, economic development, and high-quality living while preserving environmental resources. In evaluations of urban competitiveness, financial factors are frequently emphasized. In this systematic study for the future sustainable urban landscape (SUL), we use the instance of Penang Island, Malaysia, to present an integrated methodology for finding, evaluating, and validating good indicators for developing an urban landscape index that balances economic, sociocultural, and environmental factors. First, we provide a framework for developing such an index by developing a Delphi Analytical Hierarchy Process (DAHP) model that aids in choosing the most important aspects and sub criteria affecting the sustainability of urban landscapes. Then, under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), we demonstrate how to use these data to assess the competitiveness of various zones on Penang Island, namely Bayan Lepas and George Town. According to the quantitative results of the DAHP model, economic criteria, which were given a weight of 0.595 and a corresponding inconsistency (CI) of 0.04, had a greater influence on Penang Island’s urban landscape than environmental criteria, which were given a weight of 0.276 and a CI of 0.02, and social and cultural criteria, which were given a weight of 0.128 and a CI of 0.08. In terms of economic criteria, Zone 1 has a weight of 0.360, which indicates that it has less sway than Zone 2, which has a weight of 0.636. In the discussion, we highlight the essential elements of the methodology to assess the competitiveness of urban environments.

Open Access Status

This publication may be available as open access





Article Number


Funding Number


Funding Sponsor

Universiti Sains Malaysia



Link to publisher version (DOI)