3 years ago

A Revision of What Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment Should Entail: Towards Modeling the Net Impact on Human Well-Being

Thomas Schaubroeck, Benedetto Rugani
The main goal of a sustainability assessment is to evaluate the impact of systems (e.g., human or natural ones) on areas sought to be protected and maintained over time (e.g., human well-being, ecosystems, etc.). These are called areas of protection (AoPs). Life cycle sustainability assessment is a type of sustainability assessment that focuses on the impact of industrial production systems on AoPs. To further this field, three conceptual challenges should be tackled: (1) framing which areas should primarily be sustained and hence on which the impact should be assessed, that is, (re)defining of the AoPs; (2) accounting for the interconnectedness among AoPs (e.g., influence of ecosystems on human well-being); and (3) the assessment of both benefit and damage to the AoPs (e.g., benefit of industrial products and damage of their production). The aim of this study is to provide a first roadmap to address these three issues and to suggest potential solutions. Regarding the first issue, our conclusion is that human well-being, encompassing health and happiness, is the primary AoP. This is based on the argument that the sustainability concept is inherently anthropocentric. In this regard, other entities such as ecosystems as a whole are sustained in light of human well-being. The well-being adjusted life years, interpreted as years of perfect well-being, is pinpointed as the most promising holistic indicator. To conduct a respective sustainability assessment that tackles the remaining two issues—integrated system modeling of the earth and its support to well-being—is argued as the most suitable approach.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1111/jiec.12653

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