Sustainable Impact Assessment
Sustainable impact assessment tools is a structured process of approaching for exploring the combined economic, environment and social impact of a range of proposed policies, programmes, strategies and action plans. This assessment also helps to aid in decision making and strategic planning throughout the entire policy cycle. 1
Some of the tools used to examine sustainable impact assessment are listed below including the explanation of each tool:
1) Computable General Equilibrium (CGE) models
These models represent powerful tools for hypothesising possible sustainability outcomes that might be triggered with the implementation of policy proposals. The general equilibrium approach is an established analytical framework for evaluating the economic implications of policy intervention on resource allocation and incomes of agents. 2
2) Impact pathway analysis (IPA)
Impact pathway analysis studies provide an in-depth analysis of the contextual environment, the key stakeholders, pathway linkages, any changes that have occurred, and actions that could be undertaken within the project or program to increase the likelihood of the ultimate goals being reached. 3 It is also a practical approach to planning, monitoring and evaluation, developed for use with complex research-for-development projects.
3) Macro-econometric models
Macro-econometric models are models that have been intensively used for about twenty-five years for simulating national economies to forecast short to medium-term impacts of investment and to assess economic policies. They are based on macro-economic theory and, in general, contain empirically-estimated consumption, investment, export and import functions for the economy. The macro-econometric methods are methods based on macro-economic data (mainly national account statistics) and usually contain econometrically-estimated parameters. 4
Tool name Merits Demerits
1) Computable General Equilibrium (GCE) models ? Provides a flexible quantitative framework
? can incorporate various sustainability (meta) indicators in a single consistent framework
? allow for a systematic quantitative tradeoff analysis along the three dimensions of sustainability
? Benefits for static time – efficient and long term policy while dynamic time – short term and time path.
? Transport application:
• Transport cost accessibility – disregarding congestion although possible to consider
• Transport capital – focuses on total capital stock rather than a specific project
• Transport cost (iceberg) – single sector, simplest Transportation application:
• Under dynamic time – the drawbacks are additional complexity and data requirement
• Transport capital – monetary representation of infrastructures may be misleading
• Transport cost (iceberg) – fails to fully capture relationship between transport cos and distance.
2) Impact pathway analysis (IPA) ? Provides a forum for stakeholders from multiple countries and disciplines to discuss impact around a common process with visible and usable outputs
? Flexible and adaptable to different countries and situations
? The STEPS version of Participatory IPA is adapted to the scale and timeframe of our projects and can be used in a relatively short workshop
? The Participatory IPA encourages discussion of diverse framings, values, understandings of change and politics/power which are common themes of the STEPS Centre’s ‘pathways approach’
? It is difficult and costly to assess the eventual impacts of STEPS projects
? We are still working on how to link our monitoring ; evaluation work back to how we conduct PIPA, as PIPA is not intended to be an evaluation tool in itself.
3) Macro-econometric models ? Simplification facilitates further understanding of economic mechanisms,
? Models provide a common language for discussion,
? Models can be used for simulation on different assumptions for risk assessment.
? The macro economies ignores the welfare of the individual. For instance, if national saving is increased at the cost of individual welfare, it is not considered a wise policy.
? The macro-economics analysis regards aggregates as homogeneous but does not look into its internal composition.
? It is not necessary that all aggregate variables are important. For instance, national income is the total of individual incomes.
? The macro-economic models are designed mostly to suit the developed countries of the world.
Table 1: Comparison table for sustainable impact assessment tools
Sustainability analysis is a complex assessment method. It is conducted for supporting decision-making and helps us to understand the impact of three factors which are economics, environmental and social problem. Therefore, different type of available tools is needed to evaluate sustainability of these three factors.
The following are the tools used to analyse sustainable analysis in economics and some brief explanation of the tools.
1) Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA)
Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA) is one of the financial methods and technique used in decision-making procedures for evaluating the feasibility of a project or program or all costs included and tenable benefits to be resulting from a business opportunity of proposition. It represents an advance over traditional forms of valuation in that it includes opportunity costs, cost of externalities and costs of intangible assets. 5
Scenarios are portrayals of conceivable fates that consider points of view the past, the present and the future that reveals perceptions on the past, present and future. Scenarios that look at future paths for a country help decision makers manage risk and develop concrete contingency plans and exit strategies, give stakeholder representatives a role in planning, augment understanding about the future and monitoring progress and scanning changes in the environment. Therefore, scenario analysis involves constructing or developing scenarios, and integrating the content of scenarios into decision making and help beat constrained of decision makers and add to normal portrayal and a typical language. 6
3) Regression analysis
A regression analysis is one of the basic methods that are used in statistical analysis of dependencies of the change of variables in time, or the relations between variables and also one of the most frequent and important tool used to understand economic theories. The regression techniques sought the key elements of development among the economic, social, financial and government factors, such as energy consumption, foreign direct investment, government spending, investment and debt, inflation, and so on. A regression analysis is conducted to examine how the well the independent variables explain the variation in the total sustainable development principle scores for the plans in the sample. 7
Tool name Merits Demerits
1) Cost-Benefit Analysis ? Generates best guess to determine feasibility
? It represents a very simple and rational idea that decisions are based on some weighing up of the costs and benefits of an action.
? CBA may be useful in giving some guidance and providing some ‘objectivity’ to political judgement. ? Indirect benefits
? Variables might be biased
? Trying to evaluate what are often not ‘evaluatable,’ i.e., non-economic values;
? Limited considerations regarding distributional equity (including intertemporal equity);
? Political bias often present in the application of CBA.
2) Scenarios ? Do not describe just one future, but that several realisable or desirable futures are placed side by side.
? Scenarios open up the mind to hitherto unimaginable possibilities and challenge long-held internal beliefs of an organisation
? An appropriate way to recognise ‘weak signals’, technological discontinuities or disruptive events and include them into long-range planning; hence, the organisation is better prepared to handle new situations as they arise and to promote proactive leadership initiatives
? Lead to the creation of a common language for dealing with strategic issues by opening a strategic conversation within an organisation
? Function beyond the planning aspect is the coordinating function.
? The ways of building a scenario are very flexible and can be adjusted to the specific task/ situation.
? The practice of scenario is very time-consuming.
? A more qualitative approach has to put a strong emphasis on the selection of suitable participants/ experts, and in practice this could not be an easy task to fulfil.
? Data and information from different sources have to be collected and interpreted which makes scenario building even more time-consuming.
? It could be difficult not to focus on black and white scenarios or the most likely scenario (wishful thinking) during the scenario-building process.
3) Regression Analysis ? regression analysis is inexpensive
? high degree of generality and applicability
? The ability to determine the relative influence of one or more predictor variables to the criterion value.
? The ability to identify outliers, or anomalies.
? It uses the data in a more objective way; that is, the biases of the researcher become less important.
? It estimates partial effects of each causal variable rather than gross effects.
? It uses the data more efficiently ? using simulation, found that errors in the dependent variable are more damaging than errors in the causal variable
? Failure to account properly for interaction may lead to problems in forecasting
? high multicollinearity makes it difficult to obtain estimates
? When autocorrelation occurs, the analyst is likely to falsely assume greater certainty in the estimates of the relationships.
? Although simultaneous causality might create difficulties in estimating causal relationships, it is not clear that these cause serious problems in forecasting.
Table 2: Comparison table for Sustainable economic analysis tools
Environmental systems analysis tools are used to facilitate decision?making, providing support concerning relevant environmental aspects, or to provide information for learning and communication. Hence, the key feature of this analysis is capable to monitor data on environmental performance including life cycle thinking and carbon and greenhouse gas emissions quantification and management. 8
The following are the tools used to analyse sustainable analysis in environmental and some brief explanation of the tools.
1) Environmental Performance Review (EPR)
The EPR is a strategic tool that allows for an in-depth analysis of a country’s environmental problems , and identifies the best approaches and measures for implementation, in order to improve environmental performance. 9
2) Ecological Footprint
The ecological footprint was introduced by Wackernagel and Rees (1996) as a simple measure tool of the sustainability of a population’s consumption. The footprint converts all consumption into the land used in production, along with the theoretical land needed to sequester the greenhouse gases produced. It helps to analyze the relationship between development and environmental impact. 10
3) Environmental Management systems (EMSs)
An EMS is a management tool which can help a business increase its awareness of, and its control over, reduce its environmental impacts and lastly increase its operating efficiency. It is designed to be flexible enough to be applicable to any size of company and to any industry sector. 11
Tool name Merits Demerits
1) Environmental Performance Review (EPR) ? It was made targeting environmental legislation improvement as well as strengthening of institutional framework.
? It can be used in environment education effort.
? It pays special attention to the issue of environmental monitoring and data collection, and countries receive specific feedback on how to improve the continuous gathering and analysis of data.
? The national ownership for the EPR process is fundamental for making the necessary information available, for writing the report as well as for the willingness to implement the final recommendations that respond to country capacity and needs.
? The strength of the EPR lies not only in the end-product, but also in the process itself.
2) Ecological Footprint ? The formers concept gives a clear message
? The calculation is easy and simple , includes trade and it is a stock
? Each areal unit can also supply a flow of goods, information, natural and manmade capital as well as pollution into and out of the region ? It is a static analysis
? It ignores technological changes, underground resources and flows
3) Environmental Management System (EMS) ? Better regulatory compliance – ensure the environmental legal responsibilities are met and more easily managed on a day-to-day basis.
? More effective use of resources
? Easier to raise investment from banks and other financial institutions, which are increasingly keen to see businesses controlling their environmental impact.
? Increased sales opportunities
? Lighter regulation
? Certification to recognised standards
? The costs involved can vary considerably, however you should be able to find low-cost opportunities that will produce significant cost savings and offset the cost of implementing and operating your EMS.
? An investment which requires you to commit time and resources.
? Management or staff resistance – an EMS can be seen as unnecessary, so you should explain the basic aims and benefits early on in the process,
? Training costs – some members of staff will need to have a deep knowledge of the EMS.
Table 3: Comparison table for sustainable environmental analysis tools
The following are some of the tools used to analyse sustainable analysis in social problem and brief explanation of the tools.
1) NATLEX Database
NATLEX is a database of national labour, social security and related human rights legislation produced by International Labour Organization (ILO). The database was launched in 2006 until now. The assessment of a country situation in a rights-based perspective should also include the ILO Conventions ratification status, which can be accessed via the NATLEX Database. Data is provided by different EU governments. 12
2) The Wash Bottleneck Analysis tool
WASH-BAT is a sector analysis and monitoring tool developed in 2011 by UNICEF and World Bank as part of the Marginal Budgeting for Bottlenecks approach. 13 The tool analyses the complex interplay of institutional structures and processes that determine how effectively human, material and financial inputs are turned into sustainable access to drinking-water supply, sanitation and hygiene. It provides a rational evidence-based approach for formulating an investment strategy for multiple sector aims of efficiency, equity and sustainability 14
3) Equitable Impact Sensitive tool (EQUIST)
The Equitable Impact Sensitive Tool (EQUIST) was developed by UNICEF in partnership with the Community Systems Foundation (CSF), with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 15 EQUIST is a web-based tool utilised for strategic planning and prioritization of maternal, newborn and child health interventions as well as allocation of related resources in low and middle-income countries. The explicit goal of EQUIST is to reduce health disparities between the most marginalized mothers and young children, and the better-off. EQUIST helps policy makers select strategies that balance the principles of equity, effectiveness and efficiency by leading them through a logical process to identify the most rational and cost-effective solutions for their context. 16
Tool name Merits Demerits
1) NATLEX Database ? Sources are always indicated in the metadata of the document
? Link to the national databases are included
? General information on the national database is usually available in all 24 official European languages
? The help of EuroVoc to correctly translate jargon in the search tool
? Well-structured search tool
? Frequently updated, very up-to-date
? Broad thematic and geographical range ? Documents are not downloadable
? When referred to the national database users have to re-enter their search terms and start all over
? The legislation itself is only available in the original language, which makes it difficult to comprehend and compare
2) The Wash Bottleneck Analysis tool ? Can drive modification in programme design and remedial actions
? Flexible design allows for contextualisation and is open source
? Provides ‘credible’ evidence base for sector dialogue
? Shifts focus of attention onto sustainability of services and not just delivery of outputs
? Use of consistent and objectively verifiable indicators to assess upstream programming results
? Incorporates both an internal and an external quality assurance process
? Has simple enough indicators and quality assurance procedures to be carried out annually.
? Relatively complex/heavy process
? Perception as ‘project’ instrument; limited relevance for (local) government
? No clear trends – needs repeated applications and analysis to validate
3) Equitable Impact Sensitive tool (EQUIST) ? the EQUIST enabled the participants to create an accurate picture of the health status of the most deprived children and women – identify which populations are at greatest risk, why they are at risk and how many lives can be saved with appropriate action
? the tool also helped the participants to practice how to confidently plan health interventions by identifying the highest impact, most cost-effective strategies to level disparities
? Project the impact of health systems strategies and measure the potential effects in terms of lives saved and costs.
Table 4: Comparison table for sustainable society analysis tools
Life Cycle Analysis
Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) is essential to sustainable consumption and production as well as, to sustainable development, as it involves the evaluation of the environmental impacts of a product system through all stages of its life cycle. It is about going beyond the traditional focus on production site and manufacturing processes, in order to include the environmental, social, and economic impact of a product over its entire life cycle. 17
Tools used for this analysis are defined as followed:
1) BEES 4.0
It is one of widely used industry specific LCA tools which stand for Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability (BEES). It is owned by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) Building and Fire Research Laboratory. The software is aimed at designers, builders, and product manufacturers as a way to balance the environmental and economic performance of building products. 18
OpenLCA is the world’s predominant, feature-rich, open source and free software for modelling and assessing Sustainability and Life Cycle with various import and export options. A basic framework for life cycle assessment (LCA) calculation and two plugins will be implemented, a format converter and an uncertainty module. It was developed by GreenDelta since 2007. 19
3) GaBi 4
This tool is owned by PE International. The GaBi assessment tool supports a large amount of databases with worldwide coverage as well as Ecoinvent date. It provides evaluations related to cost and social profiles of products, environmental criteria, process optimization and technologies. 20
Tool name Merits Demerits
1) BEES 4.0 ? The tool is based on general agreement standards and designed to be practical, flexible, and transparent.
? BEES is less error-prone and publicly available
? Provides sustainability performance measures of building products by using Life-Cycle Impact assessment based on ISO Standards and Lif-Cycle costing based on ASTM Standards.
? More indispensable when applied to institutions of a social sphere. ? The system is not capable of providing data for a full LCA of a complete building, as it only produces data for a limited amount of building products.
? This method does not place clear environmental importance on the impacts, which negatively alters the subsequent weighing process. 21
2) OpenLCA ? A powerful plug-in structure of the software allows for easy extensions and modifications.
? The source code is publicly accessible
? In sustainability assessment, there are myriad tools and methods available
? OpenLCA is easy to use and at the same time very powerful
? Users can add their own modules
? User-friendly; user interface in a variety of languages; advanced and efficient
? Best in class import and export capabilities; easy to share your models
? Fast and reliable calculation of your Sustainability Assessment and/or Life Cycle Assessment
? Continuous improvement and implementation of new features
? Open source projects have no access to direct license sales
? They are also usually community driven, raising concern about the quality of the generated software
? Lack of statistical tools with which to analyse the results.
? The quantitative reliability analysis is based on a quantitative judgement of the user and LCA practitioners. It is possible that two different users modelling the same 6 products could generate different results.
? Sometimes, the Open LCA tool has some limitations in encompassing data.
3) GaBi 4 ? The modular architecture of this tool makes the system flexible and transparent.
It helps deliver more sustainable products and reduce operational costs of the organisations.
? The software has a fairly intuitive user interface and structure.
? Users can add data into the GaBi databases at any time, through the GaBi 4 Software Application.
? The tool allows for the use of parameters in the calculations as well as the ability to create various diagrams from flexible inputs and outputs.
? The database is large and covers many industrial branches including, but not limited to, plastics, organic and inorganic products, energy supply, and end-of-life management. ? Its inability to support multiple users.
? It is complicated for various users to use it.
? GaBi itself does not provide the data sets of specific materials and processes and so databases containing this data are connected independently.
Table 5: Comparison table for life cycle analysis tools
In conclusion, by comparing the number of merits and demerits of each tool for Sustainable Impact, Sustainability Analysis and Life cycle Analysis from tables shown above, it is easy to identify the preferable choice of tools which will be used according to their functionality. Looking at the comparison tables above, the preferable tool for Sustainable impact is Computable General Equilibrium and OpenLCA tool for Life Cycle Analysis. While Sustainability Analysis, the tools are evaluated based on three factors which are economic, environmental and society. The preferable tools for economic, environmental and society Sustainability analysis are Regression Analysis, Environmental Performance Review (EPR) and Equitable Impact Sensitive tool (EQUIST) respectively. Most of the choices of tools are chose based the amount of merit or demerits such as tool with highest benefits (merits) is choose to be the preferable tool or the ones with fewer drawbacks will be more desirable to be used. Therefore, for each sustainable impact, sustainability analysis and life cycle analysis has their own preferable tool based on its functionality and their amount of benefits and drawbacks clarified in the comparison tables above.
1 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), ” Sustainability impact assessment: an introduction,” 2010. Online. Available: http://www.oecd.org/greengrowth/48305527.pdf.
2 C. Bohringer, “Sustainability Impact Assessment: the Use of Computable General Equilibrium Models,” 2003. Online. Available: https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Sustainability-Impact-Assessment%3A-the-Use-of-Models-B%C3%B6hringer/8c0ff2a25a0e078788ffa1fb3c512ad0e9b4eb71.
3 The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), “Impact Assessment Program Strategy,” Online. Available: http://aciar.gov.au/files/node/342/ia_program_strategy_010213_pdf_17831.pdf.
4 IZA Institue of Labor Economics, “Review of Methodologies Applied for the Assessment of Employment and Social Impacts,” 2010. Online. Available: http://legacy.iza.org/en/webcontent/publications/reports/report_pdfs/iza_report_28.pdf.
5 M. O. “Cost-Benefit Analysis Revised: Is it a useful tool for Sustainable Development?,” 2004.
6 J. N. Maack, “Scenario Analysis: A Tool for Task Managers,” Online. Available: http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTPSIA/Resources/490023-1121114603600/13053_scenarioanalysis.pdf.
7 M. M. C. and P. R. B. , “What makes a good sustainable development plan? An analysis of factors that influence principles of sustainable development,” 2003.
8 Resource and Waste Solutions Partnership, “Environmental Sustainability Analysis,” 2015. Online. Available: http://www.rwsp.co.uk/services/environmental-sustainability-analysis/.
9 United Nations – Economic Comission for Africa, “The Environmental Performance Review, a powerful tool for achieving Sustainable Development,” Online. Available: https://www.uneca.org/publications/environmental-performance-review-powerful-tool-achieving-sustainable-development.
10 E. Y. O. Hatice Dogan Sudas, “Analyzing the Thoughts of Ecological Footprints of University Student: A Preliminary Research on Turkish Student,” September 2014. Online. Available: https://ac.els-cdn.com/S1877042815012495/1-s2.0-S1877042815012495-main.pdf?_tid=e973366f-806a-4645-a5e9-45a610d5dca0&acdnat=1524843852_65f345d0c696a9917e44adc382216ba3.
11 EPA – United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Environmental Management Systems (EMS),” 2017. Online. Available: https://www.epa.gov/ems.
12 United Nation Development Group, “ILO Database of National Labour, Social Security and Related Human Right Legislation (NATLEX) Database,” 2016. Online. Available: https://undg.org/sdg_toolkit/ilo-database-of-national-labour-social-security-and-related-human-rights-legislation-natlex-database/.
13 UN-Water Decade Programme on Advocacy and Communication (UNW-DPAC), “Implementing Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH),” Online. Available: http://www.zaragoza.es/contenidos/medioambiente/onu/1436-eng-ed2015_Implementing_water_sanitation_and_hygiene_eng.pdf.
14 United Nation Development Group, “The Wash Bottleneck Analysis Tool,” 2016. Online. Available: https://undg.org/sdg_toolkit/the-wash-bottleneck-analysis-tool/.
15 United Nation International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), “UNICEF Approach to Health Systems Strengthening,” 2016. Online. Available: https://www.unicef.org/health/files/UNICEF_HSS_Approach_-_4Nov16_1120am.pdf.
16 United Nation Development Group, “Equitable Impact Sensitive Tool (EQUIST),” 2016. Online. Available: https://undg.org/sdg_toolkit/equitable-impact-sensitive-tool-equist/.
17 E. N. D. M. C. Koroneos, “Life Cycle Assessment: A Strategic Tool for Sustainable Development Decisions,” no. 2013, 2013.
18 NIST (National Institue of Standards and Technology), “BEES,” December 2016. Online. Available: https://www.nist.gov/services-resources/software/bees.
19 Building Ecology, “Life Cycle Assessment Software, Tools and Databases,” 2011. Online. Available: http://www.buildingecology.com/sustainability/life-cycle-assessment/life-cycle-assessment-software.
20 Thinckstep GaBi, “GaBi Software,” Online. Available: http://www.gabi-software.com/america/overview/what-is-gabi-software/.
21 M. C. Quinones, “Decision Support System for Building Construction Product Selection using Life-Cycle Management (LCM),” August 2011. Online. Available: https://smartech.gatech.edu/bitstream/handle/1853/41123/quinones_maria_c_201108_mast.pdf.