| SENSOR: Sustainability impact assessment – tools for environmental, social and economic effects of multifunctional land use in European regions

Predicting the policy impact

With its own unique characteristics, each region in Europe will react to policies and changes in land use in its own way. Policy-makers therefore need to be able to anticipate these policy responses in order to find the most adequate policy option. Ex-ante impact assessment is increasingly used to facilitate policy-making for sustainable development. One initiative designed to substantiate the impact assessment process is SENSOR which brought together 39 research partners from 15 European countries, China, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.

SENSOR’s main product – SIAT (Sustainability Impact Assessment Tool) – is a quantitative multi-modelling tool providing prospective scenario assessment across disciplines, sectors and sustainability dimensions. It includes the valuation of simulated environmental, social and economic effects in terms of sustainability impacts.

While SIAT is based on quantitative modelling, FoPIA (Framework for Participatory Impact Assessment) is another SENSOR product that complements SIAT with qualitative approaches. Both tools, which are conceptually sound but not yet fully operational, should make a valuable contribution to the European Sustainable Development Strategy, the Better Regulation agenda and the ongoing development of impact assessment.

SENSOR explicitly developed a broad view across policy arenas and land use sectors, which allows the user to simulate the impacts of fundamental changes of policy orientation, such as the complete redirection of Common Agricultural Policy financial support towards research and development. Such scenarios might particularly help decision-makers find solutions in the face of fundamental problems such as the current financial crisis.

For more information on SENSOR, please visit the project website.