Framework for sustainability assessments providing a basis for evidence-based and goal-oriented decision making support : based on the example of electric power systems

Allemann, Sven. Framework for sustainability assessments providing a basis for evidence-based and goal-oriented decision making support : based on the example of electric power systems. 2017, Doctoral Thesis, University of Basel, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.


Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/diss/DissB_12448

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There is little doubt that electricity has become an indispensable ingredient for modern societies to thrive and to secure our individual well-being. Today, the vast majority of our daily activities are powered by this invisible yet powerful resource. Furthermore, electricity ensures that key institutions can deliver critical services to the public or manufacturing industries that produce and deliver goods to their ever-growing consumer base. In order to enable this energy supply, we build sophisticated power infrastructure and operate electrical devices that fundamentally alter natural energy and material flows on planet Earth.
Against this backdrop, some scholars and political leaders are concerned that current power consumption patterns in industrialised countries may render future generations unable to meet their needs. This begs the question: How can we further improve the current level of well-being without eroding the ecological capital of planet Earth? There are many potential answers to this question. One response often suggested is that such a way should meet the requirements of sustainable development (SD). The guiding principles of SD are, however, considered to be too ambiguous to operationalise and have given rise to a wide range of interpretations. Sustainability assessments play a central role in the process of extracting and evaluating data against predefined sustainability objectives and thereby require some form of interpretation of SD and an understanding of the relevant aspects of the system under review.
With this thesis, I strive to contribute a holistic and transparent framework for sustainability assessments that integrates normative features of SD, instrumental aspects of governance and functional components of the system. It strives to provide a comprehensive basis for evidence-based and goal-oriented decision making by determining relevant categories and enabling an evaluation of system data against predefined sustainability objectives. It assumes that more of the right data provides a better basis for informing decision making on the long-term development of key systems and, thus, may serve as a starting point for the design of policy instruments. My work aims to promote scientific discussion on appropriate methodologies for sustainability assessments.
Exemplary results for power systems show that the framework is able to produce new meaningful criteria hitherto absent in sustainability assessments. Furthermore, for the first time ever it provides general goals to criteria that mirror the requirements of SD directly in sustainability assessments. The framework does not aim to provide a single best solution and rather seeks to balance the development of the system by considering negotiation and deliberation to agree on priorities. Accordingly, it is not meant as a management tool, but rather seeks to provide additional information on the system under review and potential sustainability goals for societal steering processes.
Advisors:Burger, Paul and Grunwald, Armin
Faculties and Departments:04 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Departement Gesellschaftswissenschaften > Fachbereich Nachhaltigkeitsforschung > Nachhaltigkeitsforschung (Burger)
UniBasel Contributors:Allemann, Sven and Burger, Paul
Item Type:Thesis
Thesis Subtype:Doctoral Thesis
Thesis no:12448
Thesis status:Complete
Number of Pages:1 Online-Ressource (326 Seiten)
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Last Modified:27 Jul 2019 04:30
Deposited On:28 May 2018 12:29

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