Towards social sustainability: Screening potential social and governance issues for biojet fuel supply chains in Brazil

Farahnaz Pashaei Kamali*, João Augusto Rossi Borges, Patricia Osseweijer, John A. Posada

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Social dimension appears to be the least developed of all dimensions of sustainability, not receiving the same attention as environmental or economic dimension. While biomass utilization is considered to have considerable impact on the social well-being of farmers and local communities, a better understanding of its social sustainability is urgently needed. The process for determining social issues, however, is subject to relatively arbitrary decisions, and lacks comprehensive structure. Social issues must be based on those social objectives and indicators that can be empirically measured and analyzed using at the existing level of knowledge and data available. This study, therefore, aims to identify the most important and relevant social and governance issues for the biofuel sector, and also to determine the issues for which reliable data and practical methods may become available and ultimately simplified for understanding by stakeholders. The sugarcane biojet fuel supply chain in Brazil was used as a case study with a research design of two steps: literature review and expert survey. From the literature review, 13 social issues and 5 governance issues were selected for inclusion in the expert survey. The survey results showed that highly relevant issues were generally perceived as highly important. Furthermore, very practical issues were also perceived as very reliable and simple issues. It was concluded that future research should mostly focus on quantitative assessment of human health and safety, labor rights, working conditions, which were perceived very important but less reliable, practical, and simple. Moreover, this study showed that all governance issues are certainly regarded as important for sustainability, but insufficiently recognized in conventional sustainability assessment schemes. The current certification schemes cover only a limited number of social issues and require addressing social issues more broadly. Learning from this study helps decision makers to extend understandings of the social dimension of sustainability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-61
Number of pages12
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Biojet fuel
  • Expert survey
  • Governance issues
  • Social issues

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