On Sustainability Indicators and Sustainable Product Development
In this thesis, we present some examples of sustainability indicators and tools for sustainable product development that can be used to facilitate a transition of the society towards sustainability. As a basis for this work, we have used certain principles for sustainability. In order to avoid the type of sub-optimisation that may occur when short-term goals are considered that are not consistent with long-term sustainability, we have used a backcasting perspective, in which a sustainable society is used as a reference state. Some difficulties with quantitative indicators are that (1) it is difficult to operationalise sustainability, which can result in the neglect of some relevant aspects of sustain-ability, (2) the choice of indicators can be made in a more or less ad hoc fashion, since it is difficult to prioritise among possible indicators, and (3) there is a lack of quantitative data for indicators. We suggest that indicator development should be based on an explicit framework that includes (1) a description of aim and perspec-tive, including principles for sustainability, (2) categories to consider by the indicators, and (3) a model of causal chains, in which indicators can focus on different parts. To encourage an explicit and consistent choice of system boundaries in indicator studies on a regional level, we propose a classification of system boundaries. We also propose a set of tools for sustainable product development that has a life cycle perspective and is based on an integrated product development process. We suggest a qualitative approach in the form of a hierarchical structure of questions to facilitate a relevant level of detail and complexity for the aspects to consider and to avoid search for data that may not be relevant.
principles for sustainability