Sustainability Science

, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 1185–1191 | Cite as

Towards a general sustainability assessment of human/industrial and nature-based solutions

  • Thomas Schaubroeck
Note and Comment
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Concepts, Methodology, and Knowledge Management for Sustainability Science


To address sustainability issues, a spectrum of human/industrial and nature-based solutions exists, and solutions are often a mix of both, e.g., agriculture uses human/industrial products/services but is based on natural biomass growth. More relevant than defining to what extent a solution is nature-based, is to assess its sustainability, which is argued to align with an increase in human well-being (Schaubroeck and Rugani in J Ind Ecol 21:1464–1477, 2017). Approaches exist to assess the sustainability of nature-based solutions (through ecosystem service assessment) and human/industrial solutions (through life cycle sustainability assessment), but there is a lack of a general sustainability assessment approach that assesses the impact of both natural and human/industrial elements. Such an approach would be applicable to any type of solution, including mixed solutions, such as agriculture. Given the interconnectedness of mankind and the earth (including the industry/economy) and the need to cover future human well-being, this general approach should ideally encompass the integrated modelling of the earth and its support of human well-being. The conventional methodologies of tools (e.g., ecosystem service assessment) would then be embedded into such a modelling approach to provide a general sustainability assessment tool.


Life cycle sustainability assessment Ecosystem service assessment Integrated earth system modelling Nature-based solutions 



I want to thank Benedetto Rugani, Kris Verheyen, Sebastiaan Luyssaert, Hans Verbeeck, Enrico Benetto, Javier Babi Almenar, Benoit Othoniel, Jo Dewulf and Alya Bolowich for insightful comments. I am also grateful for the proofread of the manuscript by Alya.

Supplementary material

11625_2018_559_MOESM1_ESM.docx (243 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 242 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Japan KK, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.RDI Unit Life Cycle Sustainability and Risk Assessment (LiSRA), Department of Environmental Research and Innovation (ERIN)Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST)BelvauxLuxembourg
  2. 2.Research Group EnVOCGhent UniversityGhentBelgium

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