Sustainability of the Swedish Sugar Sector : Assessment Tool Development and Case Study Appraisal

Abstract: This thesis contributes to the development of tools and methods for assessing sustainability and applies them to an assessment of the Swedish sugar production system. The thesis’ aims are to compile an overview of the existing approaches for assessing sustainability, to suggest a method(s) for structuring and analyzing complex sustainability issues, and to appraise sustainability impacts from Swedish sugar production. The sugar sector analyses uncovered a number of regional to global sustainability challenges stemming from the production system. An analysis using an integrated assessment model calculated the impacts for a number of social and ecological indicators accompanying the ongoing decrease in the sugar production quota and beet and sugar prices for Sweden. A GIS-based proximity analysis tool was used to calculate beet transport distances. Distance results are then used to estimate diesel fuel consumption and air emissions for five pollutants during the movement of beets from field to processing facility. The assessment tool survey and categorization showed that many available approaches for assessing sustainability are incomplete when more holistic interpretations of sustainability are considered, but that development to address the deficiencies is ongoing with many of the approaches. A new approach to structure complex issues of unsustainability that fuses the DPSIR framework within Torsten Hägerstrand’s system of nested domains is also presented. The research presented in the thesis is a first step in a long pathway to a comprehensive understanding and development of sustainability science and the actualization of sustainable development.

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