Social LCA of maritime gardens and the concept of human capabilities

Arne Wangel

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference abstract in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


    The experiment in Copenhagen Harbour collapses a highly stratified production, distribution and consumption process into a much shorter and simplified life cycle situated in one locality only. As the oysters filter the polluted sea water, the regeneration of the water quality in the harbour accelerates and paves the way for new urban life spaces. The pioneers claim that their design provides a range of potentially positive social impacts: oysters at reasonable cost are a nutritious addition to the daily diet; the activities throughout the life cycle of oysters provide learning and recreation for the families involved; and also a sense of community and belonging develops in the process. In terms of human capital development, aquaculture - in particular under experimental conditions - requires a high level of managerial skills. However, according to Sen, this will be included in his broader concept of capabilities. The concept of human capital focuses on 'the agency of human beings - through skill and knowledge as well as effort - in augmenting production possibilities' (Sen 1997, 1959).Sen's concept of human capabilities has a wider scope; he points to 'their direct relevance to the well-being and freedom of people; their indirect role through influencing economic production; and their indirect role through influencing social change' (Sen 1997, 1960). Tentatively, the list of ten central capabilities defined by Martha Nussbaum (2003) may be specified for the experimental oyster value chain. However, the actual specification of relevant capabilities and how measure these must – in accordance with Sen’s concept – be performed by those involved on the basis of what they consider as valuable functionings. Thus, as suggested by several authors, e.g. by Syndhia Mathe (Mathe 2014), some form of participatory approach needs to be integrated into Social LCA to contextualize the assessment in terms of plurality of interests, local knowledge, diversity of social value judgements etc. One important contribution towards the measurement of capabilities points the option for microfoundations in normative assessments, ‘the valuational foundation of the capability approach allows people to express their ‘powers of discrimination’ with regard to their well-being or to the good life’ (Comim et al. 2008, 180). For the oyster cas, it is proposed to apply Interactive Scenario Analysis, which is ‘a method for creating scenarios that should be able to help stakeholders to navigate towards desirable futures’ (Baungaard Rasmussen 2011, 99). The suggestion is to integrate the assessment of social impacts as design criteria in the process of constructing the new oyster chain and its enabling context.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationAbstract Book - DTU Sustain Conference 2014
    Number of pages1
    Place of PublicationKgs. Lyngby
    PublisherTechnical University of Denmark
    Publication date2014
    Publication statusPublished - 2014
    EventDTU Sustain Conference 2014 - Technical University of Denmark, Lyngby, Denmark
    Duration: 17 Dec 201417 Dec 2014


    ConferenceDTU Sustain Conference 2014
    LocationTechnical University of Denmark
    Internet address


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