Criteria and indicators for a bioenergy production industry identified via stakeholder participation

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As bioenergy production expands and new bioenergy-based technologies emerge, there is a growing concern regarding the sustainability of their ecological and socioeconomic impacts. Comprehensive sustainability assessments are needed to address this concern and to assure that the development of the bioenergy industry meets sustainability goals. Most sustainability assessments for bioenergy are expert-driven, broad, and largely motivated by an interest in optimizing international trade in bioenergy. As a result, social and cultural sustainability targets are vague or underdeveloped. In this study, we developed a sustainability assessment for a regional bioenergy production industry in Upper Michigan, using stakeholder participation. Semi-structured interviews and focus group meetings were used to elicit participants’ concerns and opinion. These concerns were translated into sustainability Criteria and Indicators (C&Is), many of which could be supported with available science. Some of the C&Is identified by participants were unique to the region. Sustainability C&Is were broadly categorized into economic (C = 5; I = 22), environmental (C = 6; I = 12), social (C = 3; I = 9), policy and regulations (C = 3; I = 13), and institutional capacity (C = 4; I = 13). While participants could identify indicators for most of the criteria (many of which are also supported by existing literature), further research and validation will be necessary to identify measurable, practical, and bias-free indicators for all criteria.

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© 2016 [Copyright Holder]. Publisher’s version of record: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13504509.2015.1135830

Publication Title

International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology