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See detailSocial sustainability assessment in the biobased economy
Rafiaani, Parisa ULiege

Doctoral thesis (2020)

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See detailA critical view on social performance assessment at company level: social life cycle analysis of an algae case
Rafiaani, Parisa ULiege; Kuppens, Tom; Thomassen, Gwenny et al

in The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment (2019), October 2019

Purpose: Social indicators are not easy to be quantitatively analyzed, although at the local scale, the social impacts might be relevant and important. Using the existing approaches for both quantitative ... [more ▼]

Purpose: Social indicators are not easy to be quantitatively analyzed, although at the local scale, the social impacts might be relevant and important. Using the existing approaches for both quantitative and semi-qualitative measurements, this study aims to assess the social impacts of a company working on algae production systems in Belgium through social life cycle analysis (SLCA). By highlighting the opportunities and challenges on the way of applying the existing SLCA approaches at company level, the objective of this study is to contribute to the development of a suitable and clear SLCA approach when a company is considered as the unit of analysis. Methods: Based on the list of potential social impact categories suggested by the United Nations Environment Program/Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (UNEP/SETAC) guidelines (2009) for SLCA, three stakeholder groups (workers, consumers, and local community) and three subcategories associated with each stakeholder group were identified as the most relevant for carbon capture and utilization technologies. Company and sector level data were collected using existing documents and reports, and the data were analyzed and scored using a combined quantitative and semi-quantitative approach to develop a social assessment model for the case study. Results and discussion: The company appears to perform well for all the evaluated social indicators except the one related to the subcategory “equal opportunity/discrimination for workers” for which the share of women employed is lower compared with the sector-level data. The results of our assessment were further discussed regarding the challenges and limitations of performing SLCA at the company level. Based on our experience, the validity of the outcomes is significantly influenced by the data availability, the generality of the indicators introduced within the UNEP/SETAC guidelines, and the subjectivity in data collection for the semi-quantitative assessment among others. Conclusions: By highlighting the difficulties and challenges of applying the SLCA at the company level, our study provides a starting point for improving the quantitative assessment and monitoring social implications at the company level within a regional foreground in Europe. [less ▲]

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See detailIdentifying Social Indicators for Sustainability Assessment of CCU Technologies: A Modified Multi-criteria Decision Making
Rafiaani, Parisa ULiege; Dikopoulou, Zoumpolia; Van Dael, Miet et al

in Social Indicators Research (2019)

Carbon capture and utilization (CCU) technologies capture CO2 waste emissions and utilize them to generate new products (such as fuels, chemicals, and materials) with various environmental, economic, and ... [more ▼]

Carbon capture and utilization (CCU) technologies capture CO2 waste emissions and utilize them to generate new products (such as fuels, chemicals, and materials) with various environmental, economic, and social opportunities. As most of these CCU technologies are in the R&D stage, their technical and economic viability are examined with less attention to the social aspect which is an important pillar for a holistic sustainability assessment. The lack of systematic social impact research is mainly due to the difficulty of identifying and quantifying social aspects through the entire life cycle of products. We will fill this gap for CCU technologies and identify the main social indicators. A multi-criteria decision making tool: technique for order of preference by similarity to ideal solution (TOPSIS) was applied to empirically determine which indicators are more relevant for assessing the social impact of a company operating CCU activities within a European context. First, seeing that social impact categories are linked to key stakeholder groups, we considered workers, consumers, and local communities as relevant stakeholders. Second, the main social impact categories and their potential performance indicators associated to each group of stakeholders were listed using the United Nations Environment Program/Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (UNEP/SETAC) guidelines. In the third step, an online questionnaire was distributed to identify the main social categories and indicators for CCU, to which 33 European CCU experts responded. Finally, a modified TOPSIS was applied to rank the indicators based on their relevance. We found that the indicators related to “end of life responsibility” and “transparency” within a CCU company achieved the highest rank affecting the consumers group, whereas “fair salary” and “equal opportunities/discriminations” were determined as the most relevant impact categories for the workers. For the local community group, “secure living conditions” and “local employment” received the highest priority from the experts’ point of view. Furthermore, “health and safety” considerations were identified as one of the most important criteria affecting all three groups of stakeholders. The ranking list of the main social indicators identified in our study provides the basis for the next steps in the social sustainability assessment of CCU technologies; that is, data collection and impact assessment. Our outcomes can also be used to inform the producers regarding the most and least relevant social aspects of CCU so that the potential social impacts caused by their production activities can be improved or prevented. [less ▲]

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See detailCombining Monte Carlo simulations and experimental design for incorporating risk and uncertainty in investment decisions for cleantech: a fast pyrolysis case study
Kuppens, Tom; Rafiaani, Parisa ULiege; Vanreppelen, Kenny et al

in Clean Technologies and Environmental Policy (2018)

The value of phytoextracting crops (plants cultivated for soil remediation) depends on the pro tability of the sequential investment in a conversion technology aimed at the economic valorization of the ... [more ▼]

The value of phytoextracting crops (plants cultivated for soil remediation) depends on the pro tability of the sequential investment in a conversion technology aimed at the economic valorization of the plants. However, the net present value (NPV) of an investment in such an innovative technology is risky due to technical and economic uncertainties. Therefore, decision makers want to dispose of information about the probability of a positive NPV, the largest possible loss, and the crucial economic and technical parameters in uencing the NPV. This paper maps the total uncertainty in the NPV of an investment in fast pyrolysis for the production of combined heat and power from willow cultivated for phytoextraction in the Belgian Campine. The probability of a positive NPV has been calculated by performing Monte Carlo simulations. Informa- tion about possible losses has been provided by means of experimental design. Both methods are then combined in order to identify the key economic and technical parameters in uencing the project’s pro tability. It appears that the case study has a chance of 87% of generating a positive NPV with an expected value of 3 million euro (MEUR), while worst-case scenarios predict possible losses of 7 MEUR. The amount of arable land, the biomass yield, the purchase price of the crop, the policy support, and the product yield of fast pyrolysis are identi ed as the most in uential parameters. It is concluded that both methods, i.e., Monte Carlo simulations and experimental design, provide decision makers with complementary information with regard to economic risk. [less ▲]

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See detailAgricultural land conversion: Reviewing drought impacts and coping strategies
Azadi, Hossein; Keramati, Parisa; Taheri, Fatemeh et al

in International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction (2018), 31(October 2018), 184-195

This paper aims to review the impacts of drought on agricultural land conversion (ALC) on the one hand and the impacts of ALC on intensifying drought on the other. The paper further investigates coping ... [more ▼]

This paper aims to review the impacts of drought on agricultural land conversion (ALC) on the one hand and the impacts of ALC on intensifying drought on the other. The paper further investigates coping strategies at three levels; i.e., micro (local), meso (national), and macro (international), in order to mitigate drought impacts that are classified as economic, social, and environmental. This paper shows that ALC, drought and coping strategies are in a reciprocal relationship and can have either a positive or negative influence on each other. The paper concludes that the complex and multidimensional nature of drought requires the development of an integrated approach that focuses on the governments’ collaboration with different stakeholders. Such an integrated approach can improve drought risk management implementations, decrease vulnerability and construct resilience and coping capacity at all levels in order to deal with droughts. [less ▲]

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See detailSocial sustainability assessments in the biobased economy: Towards a systemic approach
Rafiaani, Parisa ULiege; Kuppens, Tom; Van Dael, Miet et al

in Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews (2017)

The majority of impact assessments for the biobased economy are primarily focused on the environmental and (techno-)economic aspects, while social aspects are rarely considered. This study proposes a ... [more ▼]

The majority of impact assessments for the biobased economy are primarily focused on the environmental and (techno-)economic aspects, while social aspects are rarely considered. This study proposes a modified systemic approach for a social sustainability impact assessment of the biobased economy, based on a review on the common methodologies for assessing social impacts. Accordingly, the proposed approach follows the four general iterative steps of social life cycle analysis (SLCA) as it considers all life cycle phases of the biobased economy. The systemic approach considers the potential social impacts on local communities, workers, and consumers as the main three groups of the stakeholders. The review showed that the most common social indicators for inventory analysis within the biobased economy include health and safety, food security, income, employment, land- and worker-related concerns, energy security, profitability, and gender issues. Multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) was also highlighted as the broadly utilized methodology for aggregating the results of impact assessments within the biobased economy. Taking a life cycle perspective, this 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. [less ▲]

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See detailSocial Life Cycle Assessment in Biobased Industries: Identifying Main Indicators and Impacts
Rafiaani, Parisa ULiege; Van Passel, Steven; Lebailly, Philippe ULiege et al

in Benoit Norris, Catherine; Norris, Gregory (Eds.) 5th International Social LCA Conference Harvard, Cambridge, USA, June 13 - 15, 2016: book of abstracts (2016)

Assessing social impacts of various products, services and human activities has achieved an increasing interest worldwide. The nature of sustainability of biobased industries from a social point of view ... [more ▼]

Assessing social impacts of various products, services and human activities has achieved an increasing interest worldwide. The nature of sustainability of biobased industries from a social point of view is how and to what extent they are perceived by society, and how various societies take advantages from such activities. However, an important issue is that social factors are not usually easy to be quantitatively analyzed and although the social impacts might be very remarkable, especially at the local scale, they have been not possible to be investigated in the majority of impact evaluations in the past. Despite the existence of many different methodologies towards Social Life Cycle Assessment (SLCA) to address social impacts of various businesses and industries, most of them impartially address social performances of an industry. The aim of this paper is to highlight the main criteria that need to be taken into account in SLCA approaches for identifying the social indicators and impacts of biobased industries that is a timely topic worldwide toward climate change mitigation goals. Accordingly, considering the general approach of SLCA and particularly its inventory analysis phase for impact categories and indicator determinations, the paper provides an overview of the existing guidelines and frameworks for identifying social indicators and impact categories associated with bio-industries. In conclusion, main impact categories and indicators formulated in the existing frameworks applied to biobased industries are demonstrated as a basic set of applicable elements of social dimensions in evaluating bio-industries’ sustainability when conducting SLCAs. The state of the art for this study mainly includes leading journal articles, international reports and conference papers up to and including 2016 on SLCA in biobased industries. According to the reviewed frameworks in this study, quantitative, midpoint and site-specific data are the main elements taken into account when collecting the data for biobased product social impact assessment. This study also reveals that although SLCA is in its early steps of development and despite in numerous cases, conducting a comprehensive SLCA is not yet feasible, it has been considered to have substantially promising methodological attributes that can help policymakers and other stakeholders to quantify and assess sustainability of bio-industries from the social perspective. Recommendations for further research work concerning SLCA in bio-industries are also presented. [less ▲]

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See detailIntegrating social aspects into sustainability assessment of biobased industries: Towards a systemic approach
Rafiaani, Parisa ULiege; Van Passel, Steven; Lebailly, Philippe ULiege et al

in Benoit Norris, Catherine; Norris, Gregory (Eds.) 5th International Social LCA Conference Harvard, Cambridge, USA, June 13 - 15, 2016: book of abstracts (2016)

Considering its potential impacts on development, biobased industries require to be assessed according to the positive and negative effects they can bring to the society. Typically, the implications of ... [more ▼]

Considering its potential impacts on development, biobased industries require to be assessed according to the positive and negative effects they can bring to the society. Typically, the implications of biobased industries are considered in terms of economic, environmental and technical indices while social factors are usually neglected in the majority of impact assessments. This is mainly due to the fact that social issues are not easy to be quantitatively analyzed, measured and monitored. Indeed, the following issues need to be addressed: (i) how the social dimension is understood from different stakeholders’ perspective; (ii) how the social pillar can be properly integrated into sustainability evaluation methodologies which are mainly focused on environmental performance and (techno)-economic assessments of biobased industries. This review paper aims to answer these questions firstly through identifying the main social impacts and indicators of the biobased industries at local level in order to find an answer for the second question by analyzing and comparing the current methodologies for assessing social impacts in bioindustries. These methods mainly include Social Impact Assessment (SIA), Socio-economic Impacts Assessment (SEIA) and Social Life Cycle Analysis (SLCA). The latter, although is in its early steps of development, has been considered to have substantially promising methodological attributes for bioindustries’ social sustainability assessment. Although ongoing research tackles the incorporation of the environmental dimension into extended techno-economic assessments, no integration of the social pillar into such assessments has been made. Given that, this review focuses on the social dimension for integrated sustainability assessments of biobased industries to assess the main social impacts resulting from each operation or from the bioenergy sector. The current review focuses on the importance of social sustainability indicators and evaluation techniques. By discussing the methodologies for evaluating social impacts, a systemic methodology for assessing and integrating the social dimension into the sustainability assessments of bioindustries is developed, considering the four main iterative steps of an SLCA framework and three useful SLCA-based approaches including Product Social Impact Assessment; Prosuite and the UNEP SETAC Guidelines for SLCA of Products. It is concluded that the term systemic analysis implies that the whole approach needs the capacity to understand different subsystems and relations between them. Accordingly, the systemic assessment of biobased technologies should simultaneously include technological, economic, social and environmental dimensions. The result of this study identifies social impacts in the bioeconomy and particularly highlight the importance of considering social issues in biobased industries’ design and innovation. [less ▲]

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See detailAgricultural Land Conversion Drivers in Northeast Iran: Application of Structural Equation Model
Azadi, Hossein ULiege; Barati, Ali Akbar; Rafiaani, Parisa ULiege et al

in Applied Spatial Analysis and Policy (2016), 9(4), 591609

Identifying driving forces behind agricultural land conversion (ALC) remains one of the most difficult challenges that agricultural and environmental scientists must continually deal with. The difficulty ... [more ▼]

Identifying driving forces behind agricultural land conversion (ALC) remains one of the most difficult challenges that agricultural and environmental scientists must continually deal with. The difficulty emerges from the fact that in ALC, multiple actions and interactions between different factors (i.e., economic, political, environmental, biophysical, institutional, and cultural) exist and make it difficult to understand the function of the processes behind the changes. The phenomenon of ALC in different countries is varied in terms of intensity, trends and drivers. The main goal of this study was to understand these drivers in Northeast Iran through applying structural equation model (SEM). Using multi-stage stratified random sampling, 101 executive officers participated in the study. Data were collected through a structured questionnaire. A multi-stakeholder analysis and a mixed-method (qualitative and quantitative) approach were applied. Results revealed that not only from the policy makers’ perspective but also based on the SEM, “economic”, “political”, “technological”, “social” and “environmental” factors should respectively be the five major drivers of ALC. The results also showed that among other drivers, “more profitability of non-agriculture sectors”, “excessive rising of land prices”, “farmers’ income instability”, “land fragmentation”, “urban sprawl” and “inheritance laws” are the main six causes of ALC. Hence, it can be concluded that policy-makers and planners need to take these drivers and subsidiaries more into consideration in order to properly respond to ALC. [less ▲]

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See detailEvolution of land use-change modeling: routes of different schools of knowledge
Azadi, Hossein; Barati, Ali Akbar; Rafiaani, Parisa ULiege et al

in Landscape and Ecological Engineering (2016), (12 (December 2016)), 1-14

Although much has been published on land use-change models (LUCMs), no study has comprehensively dealt with the evolution of land use models based on schools of knowledge. The primary objective of this ... [more ▼]

Although much has been published on land use-change models (LUCMs), no study has comprehensively dealt with the evolution of land use models based on schools of knowledge. The primary objective of this paper is an explanation of the progress and growth of LUCMs concerning their main ontological, epistemological, and methodological origins. Five main paradigms, i.e., positivism, post-positivism, constructivism, participatory, and pragmatism approaches, are discussed in order to assess the current orientations of LUCMs. Given the complexities of LUCM components, the study concludes that one paradigm cannot adequately address all methodological aspects. Accordingly, it is necessary to combine quantitative and qualitative paradigms to create mixed-method approaches within a systemic framework. Such systemic approaches could shape the most probable future generations of LUCMs, which would be able to cope with the complexity of various subsystems, including biophysical and socioeconomic ones. [less ▲]

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See detailIntegrating Social Aspect into Sustainability Assessment of Bio-Based Industries: Towards a Systemic Approach
Rafiaani, Parisa ULiege; Van Passel, S.; Lebailly, Philippe ULiege et al

in Ban, Marko et al. (Ed.) 11th Conference on Sustainable Development of Energy, Water and Environment Systems : book of abstracts (2016)

Biobased industries require to be assessed on their positive and negative impacts on sustainable development. However, social factors are usually neglected in the majority of impact assessments of ... [more ▼]

Biobased industries require to be assessed on their positive and negative impacts on sustainable development. However, social factors are usually neglected in the majority of impact assessments of biobased industries: they are mainly focused on environmental performance and (techno)- economic assessments. This review proposes a new systemic approach for assessing and integrating the social dimension into sustainability assessments of biobased industries. First the main methodologies for assessing social impacts in biobased industries are compared. Social Life Cycle Analysis (SLCA) is considered to have promising methodological attributes for biobased industries’ social sustainability assessment, although it is still in its early steps of development. Second, a new systemic framework was developed following the four main iterative steps of an SLCA framework and based on three useful SLCA-based approaches including Product Social Impact Assessment; Prosuite and the UNEP SETAC Guidelines for SLCA of Products. The proposed framework allows incorporating the social impacts into a techno economic assessments (TEA) model through providing both a final social score and separate scores for each indicator category and life cycle phase. The result of this study particularly highlights the importance of considering social issues in biobased industries’design and innovation. Using the proposed systemic approach, industry and policy makers gain a better insight into the full sustainability performance (i.e. including social aspects) of biobased industries. [less ▲]

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See detailSocial Life Cycle Assessment in Bio-Based Industries: Identifying Main Indicators and Impacts
Rafiaani, Parisa ULiege; Van Passel, S.; Lebailly, Philippe ULiege et al

in Ban, Marko et al. (Ed.) 11th Conference on Sustainable Development of Energy, Water and Environment Systems : book of abstracts (2016)

Assessing social impacts of various products, services and human activities has achieved an increasing interest worldwide. The nature of sustainability of biobased industries from a social point of view ... [more ▼]

Assessing social impacts of various products, services and human activities has achieved an increasing interest worldwide. The nature of sustainability of biobased industries from a social point of view is how and to what extent they are perceived by society, and how various societies take advantages from such activities. However, an important issue is that social factors are not usually easy to be quantitatively analyzed and although the social impacts might be very remarkable, especially at the local scale, they have been not possible to be investigated in the majority of impact evaluations in the past. Despite the existence of many different methodologies towards Social Life Cycle Assessment (SLCA) to address social impacts of various businesses and industries, most of them impartially address social performances of an industry. The aim of this paper is to highlight the main criteria that need to be taken into account in SLCA approaches for identifying the social indicators and impacts of biobased industries that is a timely topic worldwide toward climate change mitigation goals. Accordingly, considering the general approach of SLCA and particularly its inventory analysis phase for impact categories and indicator determinations, the paper provides an overview of the existing guidelines and frameworks for identifying social indicators and impact categories associated with bio-industries. In conclusion, main impact categories and indicators formulated in the existing frameworks applied to biobased industries are demonstrated as a basic set of applicable elements of social dimensions in evaluating bio-industries’ sustainability when conducting SLCAs. The state of the art for this study mainly includes leading journal articles, international reports and conference papers up to and including 2016 on SLCA in biobased industries. According to the reviewed frameworks in this study, quantitative, midpoint and sitespecific data are the main elements taken into account when collecting the data for biobased product social impact assessment. This study also reveals that although SLCA is in its early steps of development and despite in numerous cases, conducting a comprehensive SLCA is not yet feasible, it has been considered to have substantially promising methodological attributes that can help policymakers and other stakeholders to quantify and assess sustainability of bio-industries from the social perspective. Recommendations for further research work concerning SLCA in bio-industries are also presented. [less ▲]

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See detailAgricultural Land Conversion Drivers in Northeast Iran: Application of Structural Equation Model
Azadi, Hossein ULiege; Barati, Ali Akbar; Rafiaani, Parisa ULiege et al

in Applied Spatial Analysis and Policy (2015)

Identifying driving forces behind agricultural land conversion (ALC) remains one of the most difficult challenges that agricultural and environmental scientists must continually deal with. The difficulty ... [more ▼]

Identifying driving forces behind agricultural land conversion (ALC) remains one of the most difficult challenges that agricultural and environmental scientists must continually deal with. The difficulty emerges from the fact that in ALC, multiple actions and interactions between different factors (i.e., economic, political, environmental, biophysical, institutional, and cultural) exist and make it difficult to understand the function of the processes behind the changes. The phenomenon of ALC in different countries is varied in terms of intensity, trends and drivers. The main goal of this study was to understand these drivers in Northeast Iran through applying structural equation model (SEM). Using multi-stage stratified random sampling, 101 executive officers participated in the study. Data were collected through a structured questionnaire. A multi-stakeholder analysis and a mixed-method (qualitative and quantitative) approach were applied. Results revealed that not only from the policy makers’ perspective but also based on the SEM, "economic", "political", "technological", "social" and "environmental" factors should respectively be the five major drivers of ALC. The results also showed that among other drivers, "more profitability of non-agriculture sectors", "excessive rising of land prices", "farmers’ income instability", "land fragmentation", "urban sprawl" and "inheritance laws" are the main six causes of ALC. Hence, it can be concluded that policy-makers and planners need to take these drivers and subsidiaries more into consideration in order to properly respond to ALC. [less ▲]

Detailed reference viewed: 56 (15 ULiège)