Flow and Impact Analysis

This page focuses on flow and impact analysis, which measures how extraction, production and emission flows affect various biophysical structures or processes, which has effects (e.g. reduction of provision of ecosystem services) that result in impacts (e.g. on human well-being). The content on this page discusses physical trade flows, multi-regional input-output, environmentally extended multi-regional input-output, environmental footprints, Life Cycle Assessment, energy return on investment, multi-scale integrated analysis of societal and ecosystem metabolism, and global commodity chain analysis.

The Chapter summary video gives a brief introduction and summary of this group of methods, what SES problems/questions they are useful for, and key resources needed to conduct the methods. The methods video/s introduce specific methods, including their origin and broad purpose, what SES problems/questions the specific method is useful for, examples of the method in use and key resources needed. The Case Studies demonstrate the method in action in more detail, including an introduction to the context and issue, how the method was used, the outcomes of the process and the challenges of implementing the method. The labs/activities give an example of a teaching activity relating to this group of methods, including the objectives of the activity, resources needed, steps to follow and outcomes/evaluation options.

More details can be found in Chapter 30 of the Routledge Handbook of Research Methods for Social-Ecological Systems.

Chapter summary:

This video introduces the concept of Flow and Impact Analysis.

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Key Publications related to Flow and Impact Analysis:
  • Goedkoop, M., R. Heijungs, M.A.J. Huijbregts, A. de Schryver, J. Struijs, and R. van Zelm. 2009. ‘ReCiPe 2008 – A Life Cycle Impact Assessment Method which Comprises Harmonised Category Indicators at the Midpoint and the Endpoint Level.’ Report I: Characterisation.
  • Kastner, T., M. Kastner, and S. Nonhebel. 2011. ‘Tracing Distant Environmental Impacts of Agricultural Products from a Consumer Perspective.’ Ecological Economics 70: 1032–1040.
  • Krausmann, F., S. Gingrich, N. Eisenmenger, K-H. Erb, H. Haberl, and M. Fischer-Kowalski. 2009. ‘Growth in Global Materials Use, GDP and Population During the 20th Century.’ Ecological Economics 68(10): 2696–2705.
  • Marichal, C., S. Topik., and Z. Frank. 2006. ‘Commodity Chains and Globalization in Historical Perspective.’ In From Silver to Cocaine: Latin American Commodity Chains and the Building of The World Economy, 1500–2000, edited by S. Topik, Z.L. Frank, and C. Marichal, 1–24. Durham: Duke University Press.
  • Monfreda, C., M. Wackernagel, and D. Deumling. 2004. ‘Establishing National Natural Capital Accounts Based on Detailed Ecological Footprint and Biological Capacity Assessments.’ Land Use Policy 21(3): 231–246. www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264837703000905