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[en] To address current challenges regarding sustainable development and support planning for this form of development, new learning about different possible futures and their potential sustainability implications is needed. One way of facilitating this learning is by combining the futures studies and sustainability assessment (SA) research fields. This paper presents the sustainability assessment framework for scenarios (SAFS), a method developed for assessing the environmental and social risks and opportunities of future scenarios, provides guidelines for its application and demonstrates how the framework can be applied. SAFS suggests assessing environmental and social aspects using a consumption perspective and a life cycle approach, and provides qualitative results. SAFS does not suggest any modelling using precise data, but instead offers guidelines on how to carry out a qualitative assessment, where both the process of assessing and the outcome of the assessment are valuable and can be used as a basis for discussion. The benefits, drawbacks and potential challenges of applying SAFS are also discussed in the paper. SAFS uses systems thinking looking at future societies as a whole, considering both environmental and social consequences. This encourages researchers and decision-makers to consider the whole picture, and not just individual elements, when considering different futures. - Highlights: • The paper presents a new methodological framework for qualitative sustainability assessment of future scenarios with transformative changes. • The framework suggests qualitative assessment with consumption perspective and a life cycle approach. • The paper presents the framework and provides guidelines for its application. • The paper demonstrates on an example how the framework can be applied. • The benefits, drawbacks and challenges of the framework application and the need for further development are discussed.
[en] Nowadays an increasing attention of public and private agencies to the sustainability performance of events is observed, since it is recognized as a key issue in the context of sustainable development. Assessing the sustainability performance of events involves environmental, social and economic aspects; their impacts are complex and a quantitative assessment is often difficult. This paper presents a new quali-quantitative method developed to measure the sustainability of events, taking into account all its potential impacts. The 2014 World Orienteering Championship, held in Italy, was selected to test the proposed evaluation methodology. The total carbon footprint of the event was 165.34 tCO_2eq and the avoided emissions were estimated as being 46 tCO_2eq. The adopted quali-quantitative method resulted to be efficient in assessing the sustainability impacts and can be applied for the evaluation of similar events. - Highlights: • A quali-quantitative method to assess events' sustainability is presented. • All the methodological issues related to the method are explained. • The method is used to evaluate the sustainability of an international sports event. • The method resulted to be valid to assess the event's sustainability level. • The carbon footprint of the event has been calculated.
[en] Certification systems for sustainable neighbourhoods started to emerge around a decade ago. This study analysed the content, structure, weighting and indicators of two established certification systems for sustainable urban development – BREEAM Communities and LEED for Neighborhood Development. Several limitations of these systems were identified: both have a bias for procedure and feature indicators over indicators that assess actual performance; performance demands are set according to a relative understanding of sustainable development; the focus is on internal sustainability, while upstream and downstream impacts of construction are disregarded; the number and distribution of mandatory issues do not cover essential sustainability aspects; and the disproportionately large number of non-mandatory issues makes benchmarking difficult and signals that sustainability aspects are exchangeable. Altogether, this means that an area can be certified without being sustainable. Moreover, the lack of continuous development of certification requirements in the systems means that they risk exerting a conservative effect on urban development, rather than pushing it forward. - Highlights: • BREEAM-C and LEED-ND were analysed in terms of content and structure. • Specific attention was given to the type of indicators used for showing compliance. • In both systems procedure and feature indicators dominate over performance indicators. • Several other limitations of these certification systems were also identified. • Altogether the limitations imply that a certificate does not warrant sustainability.
[en] This paper investigates the discursive construction of the substantive purposes of environmental assessment (EA). It addresses these purposes by exploring the complex and often multifaceted linkages between political factors and plural views of democracy, public participation, and the role of science that are embedded in environmental and sustainability discourses. The interaction between policy-making and public actors leads to the formulation of divergent and potentially competing rationales for public participation, and for social appraisal more generally. Participatory approaches have also given impetus to the development of several interpretations on the role of science in assessment procedures. Science is important in mediating public participation and the two are therefore reciprocally linked. This leads to discourses that become manifest in the construction of substantive purposes. Discourse analysis in EA is a relevant method for examining trends and patterns in sustainable development. It is argued that public participation is an important, if not decisive, variable in the articulation and civil legitimacy of certain purposes. A general proposition that results from this paper is that EA, although typically presented as an objective scientific tool, is an intrinsically normative process. Enhanced knowledge on the construction, and reconstruction over time, of substantive purposes is required if environmental and sustainability discourses are to be used and understood as meaningful analytical instruments to assess the socio-political implications of EA. - Highlights: ► Substantive purposes related to environmental assessment may be best analyzed through discourse analysis. ► Environmental and sustainability discourses are contingent on the level of participatory democracy and civic science. ► Public participation is a decisive variable in the construction of the substantive purpose of environmental assessment.
[en] Sustainability assessment is needed to build sustainable farming systems. A broad range of sustainability concepts, methodologies and applications already exists. They differ in level, focus, orientation, measurement, scale, presentation and intended end-users. In this paper we illustrate that a smart combination of existing methods with different levels of application can make sustainability assessment more profound, and that it can broaden the insights of different end-user groups. An overview of sustainability assessment tools on different levels and for different end-users shows the complementarities and the opportunities of using different methods. In a case-study, a combination of the sustainable value approach (SVA) and MOTIFS is used to perform a sustainability evaluation of farming systems in Flanders. SVA is used to evaluate sustainability at sector level, and is especially useful to support policy makers, while MOTIFS is used to support and guide farmers towards sustainability at farm level. The combined use of the two methods with complementary goals can widen the insights of both farmers and policy makers, without losing the particularities of the different approaches. To stimulate and support further research and applications, we propose guidelines for multilevel and multi-user sustainability assessments. - Highlights: ► We give an overview of sustainability assessment tools for agricultural systems. ► SVA and MOTIFS are used to evaluate the sustainability of dairy farming in Flanders. ► Combination of methods with different levels broadens the insights of different end-user groups. ► We propose guidelines for multilevel and multi-user sustainability assessments.
[en] Responding to future challenges and societal needs, various actions are taken in agriculture to evolve towards more sustainable farming practices. These actions imply strategic choices and suppose adequate sustainability assessments to identify, measure, evaluate and communicate sustainable development. However, literature is scarce on the link between strategic decision making and sustainability assessment. As questions emerge on how, what and when to measure, the objective of this paper is to construct a framework for guiding sustainability assessment and on-farm strategic decision making. Qualitative research on own experiences from the past and a recent project revealed four categories of actual needs farmers, advisors and experts have regarding sustainability assessment: context, flexibility, focus on farm and farmer and communication. These stakeholders' needs are then incorporated into a two-dimensional framework that marries the intrinsic complexity of sustainability assessment tools and the time frame of strategic decision making. The framework allows a farm-specific and flexible approach leading to harmonized actions towards sustainable farming. As this framework is mainly a procedural instrument to guide the use of sustainability assessment tools within strategic decision making, it fits to incorporate, even guide, future research on sustainability assessment tools themselves and on their adoption on farms. - Highlights: • How to link sustainability assessment and on-farm strategic decision making is unclear. • Two-dimensional framework incorporating stakeholders' needs regarding sustainability assessment • Linking complexity of sustainability assessment tools and the time frame of strategic decision making • Farm-specific and flexible approach to harmonize action towards sustainable farming
[en] The available sustainable building evaluation systems have produced a new environmental design paradigm. However, there is an increasing need to overcome the buildingcentric approach of these systems, in order to further exploit their innovate potential for sustainable building practices. The paper takes this challenge by developing a cross-scale evaluation approach focusing on the reliability of sustainable building design solutions for the context in which the building is situated. An integrated building–urban evaluation model is proposed based on the urban matrix, which is a conceptualisation of the built environment as a social–ecological system. The model aims at evaluating the sustainability of a building considering it as an active entity contributing to the resilience of the urban matrix. Few holistic performance indicators are used for evaluating such contribution, so expressing the building reliability. The discussion on the efficacy of the model shows that it works as a heuristic tool, supporting the acquisition of a better insight into the complexity which characterises the relationships between the building and the built environment sustainability. Shading new lights on the meaning of sustainable buildings, the model can play a positive role in innovating sustainable building design practices, thus complementing current evaluation systems. - Highlights: ► We model an integrated building–urban evaluation approach. ► The urban matrix represents the social–ecological functioning of the urban context. ► We introduce the concept of reliability to evaluate sustainable buildings. ► Holistic indicators express the building reliability. ► The evaluation model works as heuristic tool and complements other tools.
[en] Internationally there is a growing demand for environmental impact assessment (EIA) to move away from its traditional focus towards delivering more sustainable outcomes. South Africa is an example of a country where the EIA system seems to have embraced the concept of sustainability. In this paper we test the existing objectives for EIA in South Africa against sustainability principles and then critique the effectiveness of EIA practice in delivering these objectives. The outcome of the research suggests that notwithstanding a strong and explicit sustainability mandate through policy and legislation, the effectiveness of EIA practice falls far short of what is mandated. This shows that further legislative reform is not required to improve effectiveness but rather a focus on changing the behaviour of individual professionals. We conclude by inviting further debate on what exactly practitioners can do to give effect to sustainability in EIA practice.
[en] Taiwan is one of the few Asian countries to have officially adopted Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) as one important means towards the achievement of environmental conservation and sustainable development. Despite implementation almost a decade ago, SEA remains premature in its development. This paper analyzes the progress and characteristics of SEA in Taiwan and, through examination of its limited case studies, reveals the positive and apparent influence of SEA on policy making. This paper also identifies the barriers hindering SEA's advancement and concludes with recommendations on strategies to overcome these obstacles
[en] The objective of this paper was to assess the sustainability impacts of planned agricultural development interventions, so called upgrading strategies (UPS), to enhance food security and to identify what advantages and risks are assessed from the farmer's point of view in regards to social life, the economy and the environment. We developed a participatory methodological procedure that links food security and sustainable development. Farmers in four different case study villages in rural Tanzania chose their priority UPS. For these UPS, they assessed the impacts on locally relevant food security criteria. The positive impacts identified were mainly attributed to increased agricultural production and its related positive impacts such as increased income and improved access to necessary means to diversify the diet. However, several risks of certain UPS were also indicated by farmers, such as increased workload, high maintenance costs, higher competition among farmers, loss of traditional knowledge and social conflicts. We discussed the strong interdependence of socio-economic and environmental criteria to improve food security for small-scale farmers and analysed several trade-offs in regards to UPS choices and food security criteria. We also identified and discussed the advantages and challenges of our methodological approach. In conclusion, the participatory impact assessment on the farmer level allowed a locally specific analysis of the various positive and negative impacts of UPS on social life, the economy and the environment. We emphasize that only a development approach that considers social, economic and environmental challenges simultaneously can enhance food security.