Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 1 - THUNDER (Through Understanding of Socioeconomic Metabolism towards Sustainability)

This report provides a summary of the project report after two years. The most important objectives for the reporting period were: (a) to establish a set of footprint indicators in order to monitor human environmental burden; and (b) to integrate this set of indicators with multi-regional input-output framework, at least partially. The first objective is motivated by the fact that none single indicator of environmental sustainability has been proposed which would be able to monitor the complex issue of human induced pressure on the environment. Therefore, it is necessary to develop a set of indicators which will address the most important environmental problems. The second objective is motivated by the fact that using indicators which focus on domestic territory may lead to the shift of environmental burden beyond the boundaries of the studied system. Therefore, it is important to account for environmental burden in a consumption based approach, which assigns environmental burden of production to final consumers. The resulting indicators are denoted as “footprint”.

The first objective was addressed by reviewing life cycle impact assessment methods (LCIA, third part of life cycle assessment – LCA), the concept of planetary boundaries and stand-alone footprint indicators. The second objective was tightened to two footprints: (a) scarce water footprint and (b) potential net primary production footprint, because an availability of environmental extensions for the selected multi-regional input-output dataset directly allows quantifying of some of the proposed footprints. Therefore, this project focused on creating physical use tables of primary agricultural crops and adopting characterization factors to convert the mass of crops into those footprints. So far, those physical use matrices have been established. Characterization factors for scarce water use was adopted from literature and characterization factors for the potential net primary production were derived within a related project funded by the Czech Science Foundation.

It is expected that the final results will highlight the importance of international trade for displacement of those types of environmental burdens. The results for the scarce water use footprint point out that richer countries induce scares water use in poorer regions, but at the same time, due to imports from water rich countries to arid countries, international trade helps to save the global scarce water use. This can be interpreted also as that international trade enables people to settle in dry regions, which water resources are not suitable to produce food for those people. The results for net primary production footprint have not been analyzed yet.


Markéta Sychrovská, (Financial officer)
Tel.: +420220199473
Fax: +420220199462


Life Sciences
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