Social sustainability

This task aimed to propose a methodology analysing the social dimension of sustainability of biomass systems. Social aspects included direct and indirect impacts of the supply chain activities on economy and job creation. Social sustainability and innovative capacity from economic, cultural and social capital perspective was also analysed.

Other impacts such as quality of life (health, housing, education, safety), equity, diversity, social mixing cohesion, participation and governance and maturity (i.e. the extent to which individuals and institutions accept responsibility for growth and improvement) were assessed.


Direct and indirect effects of developing biomass on the economy and on employment (source: CIEMAT).

Expected outcome:

  1. The description of methodology for the assessment of socio-economic impact and social sustainability and innovative capacity
  2. Application of the methodology to selected two cases studies in order to assess:
    1. The number of jobs (direct and indirect) created in the economy due to the new studied activities/project
    2. The increase in the demand of goods and services (direct and indirect) in the economy associated to the new studied activities/project.
    3. The multiplier effect associated to the studied new activities/project,
  3. Social impacts (quality of life, equity, diversity, social mixing/cohesion, participation and governance, maturity) and innovative capacity,

The first 2 aspects are reported in the following deliverable, and detailed in a journal article (here). Social impacts for the Miajadas case-study in Spain are reported in a report entitled ‘Social capital and innovative capacity’.

The main findings are summarized below.

The development of small- to large-scale biomass conversion plants, as facilitated by the improved logistics delivered by LogistEC and driven by ambitious policy targets for 2020 and 2030 in the EU, will create opportunities and markets for biomass producers and suppliers. This will likely result in a net creation of jobs in relation to these feedstock supply chains in rural areas. The empirical assessments done in Logist’EC demonstrate that activity in the biomass industry can stimulate the economy. In the case of Bourgogne Pellets cooperative in France we found a multiplier effect equal to 2.44, meaning that any time 1€ of pellets from BP is sold to a consumer, the global economy will generate in addition 1.44€. In the case of MBP, results showed that the multiplier effect is approximately equal to 2. Both case-studies evidenced a net creation of jobs from the bio-based industries (with a ratio of around 1 job for 10 ha of energy crops), generated mostly within the countries in which the plants were located. This confirmed the relevance of these bio-based value chains to rural development and local economies.

A qualitative study on the social impacts of these projects lent voice to the experience and concerns of local stakeholders, thus highlighting the influence of governance factors and potentially expanding the discourse on the social sustainability of bioenergy chains. Another way to interact with stakeholder consisted of workshops to define and assess new cropping systems ex ante. This design activity represents a fruitful way to raise discussions among local experts and scientists on the way to deal with ambitious goals at the cropping system scale, and to identify research priorities by pointing knowledge gaps on the agroecosystem. Overall, the project highlighted key enabling conditions for the actual implementation of bio-based chains, among which community engagement and public perception.