Requirements for Multi-Method Approaches to Sustainability Assessment – A Theoretical and Empirical Study

One key element of furthering sustainable development in politics, society, economy and technology is analyzing and assessing the sustainability of products, processes, strategies and organizations. For this, there are numerous approaches to sustainability assessment. Due to the multi-perspective, multi-dimensional and complex nature of sustainability issues, an increasing number of approaches aims at integrated, holistic assessments, e.g. regarding multiple sustainability dimensions, life cycle phases, input types or stakeholder-perspectives. To realize this, a growing focus lies on multi-method or combined approaches and those including participatory, democratic or expert-based methods. Due to this variety and rapid developments, as of yet, there is no systematic overview of general and situation-specific requirements for integrated, holistic and stakeholder-centered multi-method approaches to sustainability assessment. This impedes structured comparisons and well-founded selection of suitable approaches for respective assessment situations, as suitability and fulfillment level of requirements are neither comprehensible nor verifiable. To fill this gap, the objective of the proposed work is to develop a comprehensive set of requirements for sustainability assessment approaches. The development is based on two pillars: firstly, existing approaches and requirements sets are analyzed extensively based on the relevant literature to deduce an initial requirements selection. Secondly, semi-structured, qualitative interviews are conducted and evaluated to gather and systemize insights from sustainability assessment experts from science and practice and develop a comprehensive set of requirements. The expected results will contribute to developing a holistic systematization and comparison framework and, thus, facilitate well-founded approach selection. This fosters sustainable development by providing valid and credible assessment results.

Author Information
Jan Bitter, RWTH Aachen University, Cybernetics Lab IMA & IfU, Germany
Daniela Janssen, RWTH Aachen University, Cybernetics Lab IMA & IfU, Germany
René Vossen, RWTH Aachen University, Cybernetics Lab IMA & IfU, Germany

Paper Information
Conference: ECSEE2018
Stream: Economic Sustainability: Sustainable Businesses and CSR

This paper is part of the ECSEE2018 Conference Proceedings (View)
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