Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation

Environmental assessment of territories through supply chain analysis : biophysical accounting for deliberative decision-aiding

Abstract : The consequences of our modes of production and consumptions on the global environment have been recognized and analyzed for many decades: climate change, biodiversity collapse, tensions on numerous strategic resources etc. Our work follows a line of thought aiming at developing other indicators of wealth, alternative to the Growth Domestic Product. In particular, in a perspective of strong sustainability, we focus on biophysical (non-monetary) accounting, with the objective of pinpointing environmental externalities. A large part of existing research in this domain being targeted towards national levels, we rather focus on subnational scales, with on strong emphasis on French regions. With decentralization policies, these territories are indeed given increasing jurisdiction and also benefit from greater margins of action than national or international levels to implement a transition to sustainability. After studying the characteristic of existing tools used in the fields of ecological economics and industrial ecology, such as the Ecological Footprint, Material Flow Analysis (MFA), Life Cycle Assessment or Input-Output Analysis, we focus on supply chains that we analyze through the quantities of materials they mobilize during the production, transformation, transport and consumption steps. The method developed, the Supply-Chain MFA, provides coherent flow diagrams at the national scale, but also in every region and, when data allow it, at infra-regional levels. These diagrams are based on a systematic reconciliation process of available data. We assess the precision of input data, which allows to provide confidence interval on results, and in turn, to put the light on lacks of knowledge. In particular, we provide a detailed uncertainty assessment of the French domestic road freight survey (TRM), a crucial piece of the Supply-Chain MFA. By doing so, we show that undertaking the study on a period of several years not only solves the issue of stocks but also significantly reduces uncertainties on trade flows between regions. We then adapt the Absorbing Markov Chains framework to trace flows to their final destination and to allocate environmental pressures occurring all along the supply chain. For instance, in the case of cereals, we study energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, the blue water footprint, land use and the use of pesticides. Material flows can also be coupled with economic modeling in order to forecast how they will likely respond to certain policies. In collaboration with the laboratory of forest economics (LEF), we thusly provide the first attempt of representing the whole French forest-wood supply-chain, and we analyze the impact of a set of policies on both the economy and physical flows. Finally, we show the opportunities of linking these supply-chain results with qualitative methods unfold in the domain of territorial ecology, stakeholder analysis in particular. We situate our work in the normative framework of deliberative democracy and are therefore interested in the contributions of biophysical accounting to public decision processes that include diverse stakeholders. We propose an overview of decision modes, key steps of decision-aiding, multicriteria methods, but also of the various forms taken by citizen participation. We eventually design a deliberation-aiding method, based on elicitation of each stakeholder’s satisfaction and regret regarding a given future. It aims at organizing the discussion on an apparent consensus mode, which by nature facilitates the respect of minorities. Finally, based on the main criticisms addressed to quantification, we propose in conclusion thoughts on the conditions that could put biophysical accounting at the service of democratic emancipation.
Document type :
Complete list of metadatas

Cited literature [265 references]  Display  Hide  Download
Contributor : Abes Star :  Contact
Submitted on : Thursday, December 22, 2016 - 4:27:07 PM
Last modification on : Friday, November 6, 2020 - 4:26:26 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Tuesday, March 21, 2017 - 9:39:50 AM


Version validated by the jury (STAR)


  • HAL Id : tel-01421664, version 1



Jean-Yves Courtonne. Environmental assessment of territories through supply chain analysis : biophysical accounting for deliberative decision-aiding. Business administration. Université Grenoble Alpes, 2016. English. ⟨NNT : 2016GREAG004⟩. ⟨tel-01421664⟩



Record views


Files downloads