EU Science Hub

Integrated sustainability assessments

Sustainability science is a solution-oriented discipline that studies the complex relationship between nature and humankind, conciliating the mutually influenced scientific and social reference paradigms, and covering multi-temporal and spatial scales. The discipline takes a holistic approach so as to capitalise on and integrate sectorial knowledge, methodologies and a variety of epistemic and normative stances towards defining solutions.

 

Land-Use based Integrated Sustainability Assessment (LUISA) modelling platform

Based on the principle that changes in the cover and use of the surface of the Earth depend on natural processes and are, at the same time, shaped by demographic, economic, cultural, political, and technological drivers, the JRC developed the Land Use Modelling Platform (LUMP) and its successor, the Land-Use based Integrated Sustainability Assessment (LUISA) modelling platform and analytical framework, to assess the consequences of policies that have direct or indirect spatial impacts. The platform supports the policy design of different services of the European Commission and provides a comprehensive, consistent and harmonised analysis of the impacts of policies and/or specific proposals in the context of environmental and socio-economic changes in Europe. LUMP and LUISA are based on the combination of a spatially explicit land use model with other modelling activities in thematic fields such as hydrology, agriculture, economy, forestry, etc.

 

Regional Dimension of Sustainable Development

The Regional Policy of the European Union is an investment policy in support of the Europe 2020 strategy. It supports job creation, competitiveness, economic growth, and improved quality of life. EU funding is also invested in innovation, the development of new products and production methods, energy efficiency and tackling climate change. As such, EU regional policies are at the core of any sustainable development strategy. They promote principles and criteria using a bottom-up approach, i.e. from the well-being of each citizen to wider cohesion at the continental scale.

 

Consumption Patterns and Sustainability

Consumption patterns contribute to environmental change, natural resource depletion and socio-economic outcomes. The impacts of consumption in the EU are felt globally, as the EU is dependent on imports of energy and natural resources, and also exports waste into the global commons (Sustainable Consumption and Production and Sustainable Industrial Policy Action Plan, 2008). Sustainable consumption is the objective of living well whilst respecting environmental, social, and economic constraints.

 

Economic Modelling, Scenarios and Impact Assessments

Human activities are impacting the world in ways which both inequitably distribute benefits and costs, and compromise the ability of future generations to meet their legitimate needs. Policy makers need to know how current policies are likely to affect the economic dimensions of sustainability and how to arrive at long-term policy strategies for economic sustainability that respect environmental constraints. The JRC develops and demonstrates new approaches for economic assessments and impact analyses through a combination of integrated methodologies and data. These aim to build and assess scenarios and policy options for Europe’s future based on a sustainability perspective towards 2050 and beyond.

 

Integrated Assessments for a Sustainable Bioeconomy

The bioeconomy encompasses the production of renewable biological resources and the conversion of these resources and waste streams into value-added products, such as food, feed, bio-based products and bioenergy. This covers diverse sectors, from agriculture, forestry, fisheries, food, pulp and paper production, and plastics to parts of the chemical, biotechnological and energy sectors. Managing the sustainable development of the bioeconomy requires comprehensive sustainability assessment frameworks and analyses to evaluate the value chains and products across their entire life cycle. To this end, the JRC is developing a set of economic, environmental and social indicators that can capture the multiple environmental, social and economic impacts of processes within the bioeconomy and their interaction with the broader economy, society and environment.