HÉTFA Research Institute developed an ‘Integrated ex-ante Sustainability Assessment Methodology and Sustainability Performance Indicator System’ commissioned by the Blue Planet Foundation.

The aim of the method is to support sustainability-driven decision-making processes by:

  1. providing the tools that enable and support decision-makers to make sustainability-driven decisions,
  2. enabling the processes to measure the impact of their decisions vis-a-vis sustainable development and to ensure the results of this measurement can be interpreted by the wider society.

To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, experts of HETFA proposed the introduction of an integrated Sustainability Impact Assessment (SIA) methodology and the creation of a composite index measuring the 4 dimensions of sustainability (economic, environmental, social, human).

The impact assessment methodology proposed by the experts consists of two steps: the first step is to complete a simplified impact assessment form; the second step is to carry out a detailed sustainability impact assessment. The impact assessment form contains 18 objectives for 4 resources through which the impacts of the proposal on the different objectives can be tested. The first step of the detailed SIA is to define the topic of the assessment. This step is followed by the development of the impact assessment report, which includes an analysis of the impacts on different types of resources, and the management of the trade-offs between resources and risks. The final step is the formulation of the proposal.

Another key element of the study is the concept of the Sustainable Performance Framework Index (SPFI). The SPFI is a flexible composite macro-indicator, adaptable to multiple contexts, that indicates the state of factors of production, resources, capital goods, and the improvement or deterioration of the desired state.

The SPFI indicators measure the quantitative or qualitative state of the production factors (human, social, economic, natural) or the extent of actions or effects that can modify these states. The SPFI is a composite indicator aggregated at three levels. The indicator is informative not only in its final aggregate value but also in the values of each cluster and each group within a cluster. Therefore, it can express the level of sustainability of the society in question in an aggregate value, thus in a single figure. At the same time, it preserves the possibility of knowing and evaluating the components individually. It can both express the level of sustainability of the society under examination in terms of the aggregate value, a single figure, and retain the potential for individual component identification and assessment. The SPFI values were piloted for 10 countries. The scope of these countries was defined in such a way that covers the widest possible range in terms of geographical and socio-economic development.

The study includes a description of the policy and legislative context that sets the framework for the methodology and describes impact assessment practices related to dimensions of sustainability.

More information and the study itself are available on the website of the Blue Planet Foundation.