Sustainability Indicators

Chair:       Jarmo Vehmas, Finland Futures Research Center
Time:        Thursday 9th June, at 13-15
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Venue:     Lecture room B3109 (and B3118)
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Cluster Analysis and Ranking of EU27 Countries Based on Selected Environmental, Economic and Social Sustainability Indicators
Francesca Allievi, Juha Panula-Ontto, Jyrki Luukkanen & Jarmo Vehmas
Finland Futures Research Centre, Finland
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This paper will present the main results developed within the Task 3.7 of the project SMILE. This task included a study where EU27 countries were grouped in terms of their sustainability performance, assessed by using a set of sustainability indicators belonging to the environmental, social and economic sector.
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The grouping of the countries considered was carried out by applying hierarchical cluster analysis to the selected indicators, thus obtaining clusters for the environmental, social and economic dimension. The same cluster analysis was carried out also on a matrix which summed up the data of the three dimensions.
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Sustainability performance was evaluated also through the calculation of aggregate indicators for the three different dimensions of sustainability, so that it was possible to rank the countries in terms of their performance.
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The aim of this paper is therefore to present both the methodology used and the results of this cluster analysis, as well as those of the aggregate indicators created.
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Climate Indicator with Stakeholder Assessments of Future Desired Emission Paths
Torgeir Ericson
Cicero, Norway
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Norway’s sustainable development indicator for climate change displays historical emissions in relation to the Kyoto target. However, as we argue in this article, the climate change issue also involves other important aspects with respect to sustainability that would be relevant to include in the indicator. We present a climate change policy indicator that in addition to historic data are forward looking by including business as usual scenarios, different assessments of recommended or desired future domestic emissions, and national or international commitments and agreements. We included data from a broad group from the Norwegian society. In this way, the indicator is inclusive and involves different interests and opinions on the desired future development that exist in society. This may increase legitimacy and acceptance for policies, and contribute to more discussions and processes on this issue. It may also contribute to make the Governement’s sustainable strategy even more scrutinized by a broader public specter than what is the case today.
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Sustainable Development Evaluation Culture in the New EU Member States: Scope and Significance
Jaroslav Dvorak
Vytautas Magnus University, Lithuania
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Purpose of the paper. The aim of the paper is to investigate the development of the sustainable development evaluation culture of European Structural Funds in Lithuania, Poland and Bulgaria.
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Desing/methodology. The objectives of the research were achieved by using the following methodology. Two variable were identified: the coordination of the evaluation process and evaluation scope/significance. The indicators for the first variable are evaluation capacities and evaluation institutional structure. The indicators for the second variable are evaluation use and market. The on-sites visits were organized to the Poland and Bulgaria. The qualitative interviews were taken from the officials, academics and evaluators in both countries. In total 40 persons were interviewed. Secondary data was collected from the papers published by local scientists, official documents available at the government ministries and agencies web sites, other printed materials, e-mails to some experts from international organizations, who’s were not available during the on-sites visits.
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Findings. There is lack of research about sustainable development evaluation culture of EU Structural Funds in new EU member states. The review of recent literature showed few dimensions that were analyzed during the last few years. Olejnizcak (2003) analyzed the development of evaluation culture in the context Polish regional policy development. Ferry and Olejnizcak (2008) provided useful insights about the use of evaluation in the management of EU programmes in Poland. Bienias, Gapski, Jakalski et al. (2009) examined the  evaluation process of EU Cohesion Policy Funds. Nakrošis and Vilpišauskas (2005) provided the baselines for the evaluation function adoptation in Lithuania. Knott (2007) made first contribution to understanding evaluation capacity perception in the Bulgaria.
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The research findings are varied between the countries. Poland had made strong efforts in the development of evaluation function as tool for decision-making and better governance. Starting from the pre-accession programs PHARE as legal obligation, nowadays evaluation is used not only as tool for accountability and knowledge production but evaluation findings are used in the decision making on the different level of the government. By the same time Poland made significant endeavors in implementing decentralization of EU Cohesion policy that outcome to decentralize evaluation function. Although system is not working properly yet due to the different implications as lack of qualified human resources, quality of evaluation research, lack of relevant monitoring data but Poland can be good example for the future EU members how to make that evaluation really work for the decision-making and citizens well being.
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Bulgaria is making her first steps in the development of evaluation function. Main experience was gained during the pre-accession PHARE program. Unfortunately the evaluation is still considered as legal obligation and there is not internal demand to broader use of the evaluation in the decision-making. There is evaluation infrastructure but the diffusion of evaluation knowledge was limited. The public servants have limited knowledge and evaluation still not so good acknowledge in the academic sphere.
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Research limitations/implications. The research has limitation as evaluation field in the new member states is very dynamic and situation may change during the short period due to external pressure from European Commission or internal from government initiatives for result-oriented public management. However this paper has practical implication as can serve as practical guide for other member states or Poland benchmark for the Bulgarian civil services.
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Evaluation of Agricultural Systems across Time and Spatial Scales – An Extended LCA Approach
Amalia Zucaro, Silvio Viglia & Sergio Ulgiati
Parthenope University of Naples, Italy
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The overall goal of the present study is to find integrated patterns for and synergies among different approaches to complex system evaluation. In order to take into proper account the different methodological, spatial and time-scale perspectives, an extended LCA framework (SUMMA, Sustainability Multi-scale Multi-method Assessment), was developed and tested, with focus on the dynamics and performance of the agricultural sector. The study was carried out within the EU funded SMILE project, aimed at developing an integrated evaluation tool capable to take into account LCA, economic and social aspects and the identification of drivers for change and synergies. To better understand a productive system, the development of an integrated model able to take into account all the different aspects is crucial: energy and material flows, land use, rate of resources use, interrelations of socioeconomic and natural systems, among other parameters should be taken into account. In general, the economic performance is the aspect that policy makers and managers consider with more interest, due to its links to the employment and social parameters (economic and social sustainability). Nevertheless, a comprehensive evaluation cannot disregard the resource use and environmental aspects, that also contribute to shed light on the sustainability of the investigated sector or process by focusing on crucial factors such as energy consumption, material resource use and environmental integrity.
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In order to fully test and validate the evaluation method, a complete LCA/SUMMA study of  the agricultural sectors of Scotland and Italy at national scales was performed, and performance indicators calculated and compared. The same evaluation framework was applied to the agricultural sector of Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) in order to compare the production dynamics in a rural country (Lao) versus the performance of more industrialized ones (Scotland, Italy). Finally, national results were compared with results obtained by analyzing agricultural systems at regional and local scale and their time evolution in the last two decades was assessed, with focus on the major supporting resources and drivers of change.
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Keywords: life cycle assessment, agriculture, integrated evaluation
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Biorefinery Implementation in Marginal Land – A Focus on the Multifunctional Use of Regional Agriculture
Sandra Fahd, Gabriella Fiorentino, Salvatore Mellino & Sergio Ulgiati
Parthenope University of Naples, Italy
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The search for new sources of energy is leading to intensified use of available land for energy cropping most often in competition with food production. Recent studies showed that the land conversion from forest, savannah, grassland and abandoned land into biofuels crops leads to significant CO2 emissions from few to several hundred times. These evidences gave rise to a much deeper debate about pros and cons of such a business and its consequences on world agriculture, land management and food supply. The environmental, energetic, economic, technological and social aspects involved in cropping for energy were checked for feasibility and profitability within the EU funded SMILE project by means of an expanded LCA approach, named SUMMA, based on the consistent application of different assessment methods to the input and output inventory of local processes.
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An alternative design for marginal land use in central-southern Italy was hypothesized by assuming marginal land to be cropped with Brassica carinata, a non-food crop, for biodiesel production from seeds and, at the same time, biochemicals isolation from residues. A biorefinery concept based on traditional biodiesel generation and conversion of lignocellulose into chemicals through the so-called Biofine process (Bio Development Corporation, USA) was applied. In fact, the energy and environmental performance of Brassica biodiesel and heat generation from residues were found to be hardly suitable at the level of Campania regional agriculture, due to the fact that the economic cost of the whole process largely exceeded the value of the saved fossil fuels. If straw and oilseed cake meals are accounted for, in addition to the biodiesel production, then the performance results to be higher from an energetic point of view, but the economic and environmental performance (most of all the total emissions per ha) still make the process not fully satisfactory. Instead, if agricultural residues are exploited for the extraction of chemical building blocks (e.g. levulinic and formic acid) and biomaterials in general both the energy and the economic balance are improved, due to the high added value of biochemicals. The entire utilization of agricultural residues in order to extract both bioenergy and bioproducts within a biorefinery concept definitely improves the environmental and economic performance of biobased feedstocks.
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Keywords: biorefinery, marginal lands, life cycle assessment, brassica carinata
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Beyond the Indicator Industry? Use and Potential Impacts of Sustainable Development Indicators in National and EU Level
Janne Rinne, Jari Lyytimäki & Petrus Kautto
Finnish Environment Institute, Finland
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Various sustainable development indicators and indicator sets have been developed in order to assess the progress towards sustainability at multiple levels and sectors. While most of the research and development has concentrated on identifying, developing and refining indicators, relatively little research exists on whether and how the indicators are actually used and what influences and impacts may follow. The results so far suggest that the use is relatively scarce. We examine the use of indicators in assessing national and EU level sustainable development strategies based on document analysis and interviews of developers, practitioners, civil servants and other expected end-users. The results show that the previous practices of indicator development and institutionalized reporting mechanisms largely determine the current direct (instrumental) use of sustainable development indicators. This type of direct use of indicators appear to be confined inside the so called the indicator industry formed by indicator developers and actors obliged to use the indicators. Based on the results, key barriers of the use and possibilities to generate wider influences to the society are identified and discussed. This research is a part of EU FP7 project POINT (POlicy INfluence of Indicators).
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Finnish Food Sector Developing Methodology for Carbon and Other Footprints
Hannele Pulkkinen, Juha-Matti Katajajuuri, Merja Saarinen, Hanna Hartikainen, Tommi Kauppinen, Kristoffer Krogerus, Heli Yrjänäinen & Frans Silvenius
MTT Agrifood Research Finland
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MTT in collaboration with Finnish food industry and retail are proactively developing national life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology and communication of environmental impacts of food products. Many international standards and guidelines are published but no common approved standard nor communication method are available.
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The Foodprint -research programme aims to harmonise and develop calculation methods of footprints in the food sector taking into account current international development and best practices. The most challenging issues in the LCA methodology and inadequate requirements in the present international standards are looked into and developed further. Examples are specific data quality requirements for each life cycle stage, allocation rules in different situations, methodology to calculate climate impact of land use changes, and developing new updated emission factors for important emission sources, such as, energy production and denitrification of N2O from arable land. These issues are critical as they remarkably affect comparability and magnitude of LCA results.
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In the closely related Climate Communication –research project different communication methods of environmental impacts are evaluated and the food industry is brought together for discussions to gain a shared view of product level environmental communication and labels.
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Multi-Scale Integrated Analysis for Sustainable Policies: Romanian Socioeconomic Metabolism
Raluca I. Iorgulescu, Lucian-Liviu Albu & Cristian Stanica
Institute for Economic Forecasting, Romania
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Multi-Scale Integrated Analysis of Societal and Ecological Metabolism (MuSIASEM) is a method developed in relation to the field of science for governance and it can be used to check the robustness and the relevance of models, datasets, and forecasting using integrated biophysical, economic, social and demographic analyses across different hierarchical levels and scales. The paper discusses Romanian exosomatic metabolism over a period of seven years (1999-2006) on five hierarchical levels with the focus on the analysis of industry-level data presented in correlation with microeconomic changes. The industry-level disaggregates the productive and commercial and public services sectors in specific industries. For example, we consider the following subsectors for the productive sector: mining and energy and manufacture and building. Similarly for the services and government sector we consider as subsectors: transport, public administration and other sectors. Each of these subsectors (except for public administration and other sectors) can be split further at a lower level. Structural changes in each economic sector, due to the transition from a centrally planned economy to a free market with European Union membership, can be related to socioeconomic metabolic variations and the paper provides microeconomic details for specific industries to support this statement.
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Trends and Driving Factors in Finnish Forest Sector
Jukka Hoffrén
Statistics Finland
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The Finnish economy depended primarily on forest products as recently as 1980s. In the 1990s there was a remarkable transformation in the industrial structure, from a resource-based economy into a knowledge-based one, due to the growth of diversified electronics and ICT-related industries. Today Finnish forest industry companies are among the world´s largest forest companies.
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Within SMILE project (Case Study 3.4 The Finnish Case Study: Analysis at the sectoral level of a developed economy) the Finnish forest sector was analysed extensively by using the DECOIN/SMILE toolkit prototype. The results obtained by the toolkit go deeper to the changing trends that the Finnish forest sector and especially the pulp and paper industry face today. SUMMA and MuSIASEM models suggest that the Finnish forest sector is shifting from local to global markets, they question the overall sustainability of Finnish forest sector and suggest that increasing efficiency increases the use of wood (Jevons Paradox situation). ASA model suggest that the environmental effects of forest industry were caused by increasing production volumes and other driving factors had decreasing effects.
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Supporting Sustainable Development: Using the SMILE Toolkit with Stakeholders in Scotland
K.L. Blackstock, K.M. Matthews, K. Buchan, D. Miller, L. Dinnie & M. Rivington
Macaulay Land Use Research Institute, UK
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The SMILE project explores how the DECOIN tool kit can support decision making for sustainable development. The SUMMA (Sustainability Multi‐criteria Multi‐scale Assessment) and MuSIASEM (Multi‐Scale Integrated Analysis Societal Ecosystem Metabolism) tools were introduced to members of the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) to support their statutory duties under the National Park (Scotland) Act 2000. The CNPA are the ‘enabling authority’ that oversees the actions of government, agencies, non-governmental organisations, voluntary organisations, and private land owners who together manage the Cairngorms National Park, Scotland. The paper uses qualitative and quantitative data collected between 2008 and 2011. The initial barriers to using the tools were the staff time commitment; availability of, and access to, data; whether the CNP was a suitable exemplar for Scotland; and difficulties in understanding the technical language used. The evaluation of the tools once applied suggests that the main difference between SUMMA and MuSIASEM was that MUSIASEM was more transparent but SUMMA could answer particularly salient policy questions. The results illustrate how the social context influences the perceived utility and salience of the outputs from the tools. These results suggest certain preconditions for using these tools as part of sustainable development governance processes.
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Sustainability Criteria and Indicators – A Tool for Strategic Urban Planning
Tarja Söderman1, Leena Kopperoinen1, Sanna-Riikka Saarela1 & Vesa Yli-Pelkonen2
1Finnish Environment Institute SYKE, Finland & 2University of Helsinki, Finland
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Urban planners work in the midst of many requirements and expectations. Not the least is the need to bring forth sustainable environment. The process of planning is often busy and the planner lacks tools to assess sustainability of different planning options. To enable this assessment sustainability criteria and indicators were developed in an interdisciplinary research project. The criteria were designed to be used for strategic decision making and impact assessment in middle sized urban regions in Finland.
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Criteria enable discussion among stakeholders regarding questions:
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• Which services and sustainability goals are prioritized and why (target setting)?
• How indicator values will change with certain scenarios and alternatives (scenario-working, comparison of planning options)?
• Have strategic objectives been obtained or is the development going to the desired direction (monitoring)?
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Sustainability criteria comprise ecosystem services criteria as well as social and economic criteria. All three criteria sets together include 16 main criteria, 50 second order criteria, and 95 indicators. 47 of all indicators represent more than one pillar criteria, e.g. describe both social and economic sustainability. The indicators have been tested in two urban regions, Lahti and Oulu.
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The criteria will be published in 2011 as a Finnish guidance book.
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Trends of Finnish MFA and Future Prospects
Jukka Hoffrén
Statistics Finland
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The unsustainable trends leading to overexploitation of environmental and natural resources that accelerate environmental hazards are a key challenge for EU environmental policy. A reduction in the quantitative exploitation of nature to levels, that ensure viability of ecosystems, is needed. An economy’s materials use can be monitored by economy-wide Material Flow Accounts (MFA) and it’s main aggregate indicators that act as proxies of the environmental effects of economic activities on nature.
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To promote EU directive that tasks member countries to compile such MFA accounts during this decade, Statistics Finland conducted a Eurostat funded “Pilot study on economy-wide material flow accounts with hidden flows in Finland” project in 2009. Within the project methodological and practical working methods for compiling reliable Finnish Material Flow Accounts (FIN-MFA) were established. According to results in 1945, Finnish DMI was some 29.4 million tonnes, whereas in 2007 it was over 250.6 million tonnes. Likewise, the TMR grew from 51.2 million tonnes to 407.3 million tonnes during the same period. Trends in both indicators have been constantly upward, no indication of dematerialization or immaterialisation.
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“Walking in Other’s Shoes” – Experiences of Using the DECOIN Tools to Characterise Sustainability Trade-Offs in Scotland and the Cairngorms National Park
K.B. Matthews, K.L. Blackstock, K. Buchan, D.G. Miller & M. Rivington
Macaulay Land Use Research Institute, UK
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The paper presents the experiences of using two of the DECOIN tools, SUMMA (Sustainability Multi‐criteria Multi‐scale Assessment) and MuSIASEM (Multi‐Scale Integrated Analysis Societal Ecosystem Metabolism), to characterise sustainability trade-offs in Scotland and the Cairngorms National Park (CNP).  The paper reflects on the strong theoretical basis of the two tools that provide for complex eco-social systems a coherent conceptual and methodological frameworks within which to understand batter sustainability trade-offs.  Translating theory into practice, particularly using tools and methods developed by others, however, remains a key challenge.  The paper sets out the key challenges that were overcome in applying the tools and the compromises that had to be made both in terms of scope and depth of analysis.  The paper reports the progress of the analysis of changes in the sustainability of the agriculture sector for Scotland and the CNP (1991 to 2007 using SUMMA) and the inclusion of land as a key intensity or extent variable within MuSIASEM analyses.  Approaches to the communication of the SUMMA and MuSIASEM outputs for policy and practice audiences are also presented.  The paper concludes that the DECOIN toolkit has significant utility in conducting theoretically coherent, practical for implementation and policy relevant assessments of sustainability trade-offs but that “walking in others shoes” is not always comfortable.
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The Multi-Scale Integrated Analysis of Societal and Ecosystem Metabolism (MuSIASEM) Grammar: Theoretical Relevance and Practical Applications within Different Environmental Realms
Mario Giampietro
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain
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The MuSIASEM approach is a multi-purpose grammar capable of generating quantitative post-newtonian (no differential equations) characterizations of sustainability issues.  It can represents a given issue of sustainability adopting a definition of “what the system is” and “what the system does” – chosen ‘a la carte´by social actors – across different scales and dimensions of analysis, by keeping coherence in the quantitative results (Sudoku effect).  Several applications developed in the SMILE project, are presented:
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(i) a comparison of the evolutionary trend of a large sample of countries 1980-2007 showing the existence of a clear attractor in the trajectory of economic growth;
(ii) a comparison of EU14 1992-2005 showing the existence of clear benchmarks in the values describing the metabolic patterns of functional compartments of society;
(iii) examples of analysis of urban metabolic patterns using GIS;
(iv) examples of analysis of material metabolic pattern (water and waste).
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UK Energy Sector Indicators – A Tool for Evidence-Based Policy in the Service of Sustainable Development?
Markku Lehtonen
University of Sussex, UK
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This paper presents the results from a case study on the role in policymaking of UK Energy Sector Indicators (ESI), launched in 2003. The case study was part of the EU-funded research project POINT – Policy Influence of Indicators (2008-2011). The findings are reflected against the conclusions from the other POINT-project case studies, and lessons are drawn concerning the design and the role of indicators in fostering sustainable development.
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The findings show that 1) the ESIs constitute a very minor element within the broader evidence-base used by policymakers, and the ESIs and their objectives were poorly known even central players in the sector. Despite their very modest direct, instrumental use, the ESIs have produced impacts indirectly, through the processes of dialogue and argumentation both during the preparation of the indicators and after their publication as part of the annual reporting by the UK energy department. The findings highlight the multiplicity of partly mutually exclusive forms of influence from indicators, the potentially productive impacts of conflict in generating indirect influence, and the absence of a direct link between the influence and the scientific quality of the indicators. More attention is called to matching the “supply and demand” of the indicators, and to the general political and institutional context in which indicators are being produced and used.
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How and How Much Can Forest Ecosystems Support a Sustainable Living in Industrialized Societies?
Silvio Viglia, Pier Paolo Franzese, Amalia Zucaro & Sergio Ulgiati
Parthenope University of Naples, Italy
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Can forest ecosystems play an important role in support of the sustainable living of populations day-by-day more addicted to fossil fuels, in times of declining non-renewable resources? What is their carrying capacity concerning bioenergy and biomaterial supply as well as their ability to provide ecosystem services? Forests are claimed to be able to provide not only food, fibers, chemicals, construction materials, but also biomass as an alternative energy source as well as services of climate regulation, support to water cycle and uptake of emissions, not to talk of biodiversity protection.
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Environmental protection is sometimes considered as competing with human activity and economic development. On the contrary, innovative concepts recommend environmental protection to be achieved without banning human activities but instead developing appropriate management practices aimed at joint economic, social and environmental sustainability. The suitability of such practices must be assessed by means of appropriate evaluation methods that go beyond mono-dimensional measures and criteria.
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In this study, we apply an extended LCA approach, SUstainability Multimethod Multiscale Assessment (SUMMA) to investigate the interplay of forestry and nature conservation activities, in order to explore the resource use patterns and the existence of biophysical constraints to economic development, if any. The SUMMA approach allows the parallel implementation of both “upstream” (Material Flow Accounting, Embodied Energy Analysis, and Emergy Synthesis) and “downstream” (Economic Analysis, as well as airborne, waterborne and solid waste generation and release) evaluation methods. The study was carried out within the EU funded SMILE project, aimed at developing an integrated evaluation tool capable to take into account LCA, economic and social aspects and the identification of drivers for change and synergies.
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Our study deals with a selection of forest management practices and forestry activities in Europe in order to identify the resource investment needed for, and the benefits achieved from, joint environmental conservation and economic activity implementation, within the frame of a decreasing reliance on fossil fuels and the search for sustainable production and consumption.
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Keywords: life cycle assessment, forest, integrated evaluation
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Ecological Assessment of Developing Carbon Sequestration in Urban Terrestrial Ecosystems: Using Ecologically- Based Life Cycle Assessment and Geographical Information System (GIS) to Analyse the City of Shenyang, China
Zhang Tianlin
University of Jyväskylä, Finland
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Carbon sequestration in urban ecosystems is becoming an international climate change initiative for sustainable development. This research reports upon the natural process of carbon sequestration from the atmosphere into urban ecosystems. The risks associated within carbon sequestration in urban ecosystems will be investigated utilising the analysis of ecological balance status and integrated climate policy with reference to the sustainable development of urban planning. The primary method of this paper is the ecologically-based life assessment of urban ecosystems relevant to tackling barriers for developing carbon sequestration. A Geographical Information System (GIS) tool will be used in the analysis of risk appraisal from the field of ecological distribution in urban areas. The collected data from a series of calculations related to urban ecological footprint, human appropriation of net primary productivity (HANPP) and industrial metabolism analysis prove that the risks to develop carbon sequestration are caused by ecological deficits, human activities and urban carbon cycle imbalance. The results from data show that a large amount of carbon dioxide will continue accumulating in the atmosphere. Consequently, the current urban terrestrial ecosystems are inadequate for reducing air pollution and achieving environmental sustainable development in the urban area of Shenyang, China. In conclusion a climate policy is proposed for ultimately reducing carbon emissions.
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Keywords: Carbon Sequestration, Ecological Balance, Geographical Information System (GIS), Ecological Based Life Cycle Assessment, Ecological footprint