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Social assessment of future scenarios: Developing and testing a new methodology covering consumption-related impacts with a focus on future ICT societies

Ekener, Elisabeth
Sustainable Production and Consumption 2019 v.17 pp. 148-160
education, employment, expert opinion, learning, methodology, poverty, public health, research projects, social cohesion, social justice, sustainable development, trade, Sweden
The social perspectives of sustainability have been historically under-addressed in sustainability assessment methodologies of scenarios. A recent research project - “Scenarios and sustainability impacts of future ICT societies” - explored five society-wide scenarios with an ICT focus for Sweden in 2060. A methodology was developed within the research project to assess the scenarios in terms of impacts on the societal level, as well as consumption-related impacts on the global level. This paper develops and tests a methodology that could be employed in wider scenario-based assessments of future societies that include consumption-related impacts. At the core of the new methodology is the categorization of social aspects under five categories for the national assessment and four for the global assessment. A qualitative assessment is performed for each of the following categories on national level: Participation and Influence in Society, Health Conditions, Equity and Justice, Social Cohesion and Learning and Education. For the global assessment the level of trade and the commitment to sustainable development in the different scenarios was considered. The categories assessed globally are Poverty, Health, Employment and Justice for All. The assessments should be made based on expert knowledge. One result of the application of the methodology was among other, that the most environmentally adapted scenario – Valued Environment – was also the best performing scenario from a social sustainability perspective.