Social sustainability assessments in the biobased economy: Towards a systemic approach

6
Sep

Social sustainability assessments in the biobased economy: Towards a systemic approach

Taking a life cycle perspective, this review study provides a holistic view of the full sustainability of research, design, and innovation in the biobased economy by suggesting the integration of the social aspects with techno-economic and an environmental life cycle assessment. Our proposed systemic approach makes possible to integrate the social impacts that are highly valued by the affected stakeholders into the existing sustainability models that focus only on environmental and techno-economic aspects. We discuss the steps of the proposed systemic approach in order to identify the challenges of applying them within the biobased economy. These challenges refer mainly to the definition of the functional unit and system boundaries, the selection and the analysis of social indicators (inventory analysis), the aggregation of the inventory to impact categories, and the uncertainties associated with the social sustainability evaluation. The result of this review and the proposed systemic approach serve as a foundation for industry and policy makers to gain a better insight into the importance of social sustainability impacts assessment within the biobased economy.

The paper is now in press at the journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. You can read the online proof version of the paper here.

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