Risk and sustainability: trade-offs and synergies for robust decision making

Volumen:  34   |  Pages:  -   |  Year of Publication:  2021  | License:  CC BY 4.0

What is the objective?

The aim of the paper is to propose a core ontology for using the Semantic Web for life cycle sustainability assessment

Our Short Summary.

This research paper proposes a framework for decoupling risk assessment and sustainability to minimize risk-sustainability trade-offs and to maximise optimum synergies. The framework consists of four steps: (1) identifying assessment scope and aligning system boundaries, (2) harmonizing assessment metrics and applied methods, (3) addressing cross-cutting issues and, (4) intermediate results are exchanged.

Why you should read it!

This paper incites the curiosity of researchers, professionals and decision makers in the fields of risk assessment, LCA and sustainability.

Original Abstract


Decisions about the development of new marketed technologies or products invariably come with consequences for economy, society and the environment. Environmental and health risk assessment on the one hand and sustainability assessment on the other hand are tools that offer different but complementary information about such consequences. Conflicts or synergies between the two tools may arise when there are trade-offs between considerations of specific risks and safety versus long-term sustainability. There is a compelling case for a combined assessment of both sustainability and risks, also in support of a successful safe and sustainable-by-design (SSbD) approach, but this is not straightforward.

Results and discussion

We offer a roadmap showing when the two assessment tools should be applied together and how to combine them in a consistent way, to support more robust decision-making. Four alternative approaches are evaluated against six performance criteria to recommend an approach that makes use of the broader and more generic sustainability assessment as a baseline and includes iterative applications of risk and sustainability assessment elements to increase specificity, reliability and relevance of the assessment results.


The recommended approach provides a basis for better-informed decisions about technology choices for policy and societal stakeholders.


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