A new consistent framework for assignment of safe operating space to B2C and B2B industries for use in Absolute Environmental Sustainability Assessments

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Hendrik Oosterhoff, Laura Golsteijn, Alexis Laurent, Morten Walbech Ryberg 


The planetary boundaries define a safe operating space for humanity to act within without potentially destabilizing the planet. The safe operating space is often used a sustainability reference in Absolute Environmental Sustainability Assessments (AESAs) where a share of the safe operating space (SoSOS) is assigned to the assessed activity. An identified challenge, is that current methods are suited for business-to-consumer (B2C) industries and companies, but ill-suited for assessments of business-to-business (B2B) as the sharing is often based on the direct value to humans. Thus, this study presents a systematic framework for assigning a SoSOS to both B2C and B2B industries and companies. The framework uses multi-region input-output models to link industries and estimate the direct and indirect value to humans for both B2B and B2C industries. The framework was tested in a case study for a B2B company to show its application and to evaluate the sensitivity of the framework towards different modelling choices. The results of the case study and sensitivity analysis was used to provide recommendations for further improvement of the framework. While there is still need for improvement and refinement, the framework shows large potential. Mainly because it directly facilitate AESA of B2B industries and companies to help gauging their environmental performance relative to absolute boundaries and, thus, provide better basis supporting strategic sustainability related activities.




Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Sustainability


Absolute sustainability, Sharing principles, Distributive justice, Safe Operating Space, downscaling, Organizational life-cycle assessment, planetary boundaries, Multi-regional input-output


Published: 2022-07-25 05:42

Last Updated: 2022-07-25 09:42


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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Conflict of interest statement:

Data Availability (Reason not available):
Yes. Except for case study inventory data, which is confidential.

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