A pluralism perspective on sustainability assessment for road infrastructure (SARI) in Indonesia

Updated: 7-10 2016

Some academic literature in SARI have heavily focused on methods or tools (e.g. Bueno et al., 2015; Diaz-Sarachaga et al., 2016; Willetts et al., 2010) and frameworks (e.g. Gudmunsdsson et al., 2016; Ramani et al., 2012; Richardson, 2005). A little attention has been focused on the development of SARI in its context to address complexity and dependency (Gibson, 2006; Joumard & Nicolas, 2010) which are inevitable with pluralism of the hardware (infrastructure and vehicles) and of people and organisation involved (T. Richardson, 2005). However, there are limitations in these relatively few studies. Firstly, they often focus on the methods and tools without clarifying the discursive process which frames the sustainability issues, principles, goals and objectives. Therefore, these studies hardly capture the constituted framework in use which promotes the methods and tools. Secondly, there are barely considerations regarding values, actors' interests, and particular institutional settings which influence complexity and dependency in the assessment process. Road infrastructure sustainability concerns often reach beyond the organisational boundaries of national, state, and local agencies whose traditional organisational stovepipes influence the infrastructure management (Muench et al., 2012; Ramani et al., 2012; Zietsman & Ramani, 2011). Thirdly, the negation of value, politics, and culture, and social factors causes SARI to fall into a blindfold adoption without clear potencies of effective applicability and of planning and assessment integration. Barriers and opportunities of SARI implementation should only be viewed within pluralism of the assessment at the micro, meso, and macro levels (Turnpenny et al., 2008).

The overall objective of this research is to transfer the sustainability concept into SA practices as well as to provide strategies and methods to integrate planning and assessment process for road infrastructure in Indonesia within the agenda of sustainable development. This research has three main objectives: firstly, to clarify the linkages between the IA theories in a broad academic perspective, on one hand, and the pluralism in assessment practices (context, process, and assessment features), on the other hand; secondly, to identify the assessment regimes and the broader contextual issues influencing values, interests of actors, process expectation, and institutional setting of SARI ; the third objective is to investigate integration of SARI into spatial planning, including into infrastructure planning, dealing with complexity, trade-offs, and uncertainty which inherently characterise SA. In relation to the three objectives, the research examines barriers for SARI applicability in the process and content-related aspects. These objectives will be embraced in the pluralism view of IA which encompases culture, politics, and social factors in assessment development.