Comprehensive assessment of sustainability in regional systems

Regional and branch economy

The unfavorable socio-economic climate, combined with rising internal and external threats mean that an integrated approach should be taken to the task of sustainable development. Intellectual capital plays the key role in solving this problem. The goal of this study is to develop a methodology for a comprehensive assessment of the level of sustainable development in regional systems. An analysis of the approaches presented in the scientific literature has shown that the sustainability of regions in most cases is considered as a combination of economic, social and environmental aspects. In this paper, the traditional structure of the regional system is supplemented with intellectual capital, which acts as a driver for the innovative development strategy. The system of indicators for assessing the sustainability of economic, social and environmental spheres is substantiated. A system of indicators reflecting the human, structural and client components of intellectual capital has been constructed for analysis; intellectual capital is regarded as an intellectual sphere in this case. The paper proposes an integral indicator that characterizes the sustainable development of the regional system. The proposed methodology for assessing sustainability in the context of four areas has been tested on the regions of the Northwestern Federal District. Only St. Petersburg has high values for all components of the rating. The problems of underperformers in the rating (the Republics of Karelia and Komi, as well as the Vologda Oblast) are mainly due to environmental issues. The Kaliningrad, Novgorod and Pskov regions have a low stability of the economic sphere. These regions, as well as underperformers, have problems in the social sphere as well. The assessment of the connectivity of the four spheres "economy – social sphere – ecology – intellectual sphere" was made using a matrix of paired correlation coefficients. The analysis showed a strong relationship between the social and intellectual spheres of the regions, which confirms the thesis about the priority of investments in social infrastructure in the framework of the implementation of the innovation development strategy. These two areas also have a fairly close relationship with the economy. The environmental sphere has its own peculiar problems. It has an average level of interconnection with the social and intellectual spheres and a low level with the economy, which indicates the insufficient environmental friendliness of the economy of the regions of the Northwestern Federal District.