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Assessing the Sustainability of Technological Developments: An Alternative Approach of Selecting Indicators in the Case of Offshore Operations

[+] Author Affiliations
Ibrahim Khan, M. R. Islam

Dalhousie University-Sexton Campus

Paper No. IMECE2005-82999, pp. 219-229; 11 pages
  • ASME 2005 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Engineering/Technology Management
  • Orlando, Florida, USA, November 5 – 11, 2005
  • Conference Sponsors: Engineering and Technology Management Group
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4230-4 | eISBN: 0-7918-3769-6
  • Copyright © 2005 by ASME


In general, ‘sustainability’ implies accountability for effects on the natural environment and to future generations. This accountability should be extended at least to the whole Earth (in space) and several generations (in time). If this criterion is implied, most of the widely accepted technological developments are not sustainable. Moreover, conventional evaluation methods of sustainability using inappropriate indicators usually misrepresent unsustainable technologies as ‘sustainable’. In this study we developed a framework for analyzing indicators of sustainable technological developments. Problems and misconceptions about conventional indicators/indices selection were identified and discussion was carried out about how they mislead in measuring the real progress in environmental and socio-economic developments. Following the proposed framework, a set of indicators were analyzed and selected in the case of offshore hydrocarbon operations. To select these indicators, the ‘multi-criteria analysis’ method was used and was found advantageous when applied in a complex and stochastic system, such as the marine environment. The selected set of indicators were evaluated in terms of their degree of importance by simply ranking each indicator, following a modified semantic and finally appropriate indicators were sorted out based on the cognitive mapping analyses. This indicator selection process helps us discard misleading indicators and selecting appropriate sustainability indicators. Correct indicators will be useful to evaluate status of sustainability and will lead to achieve the overall objective of sustainable developments.

Copyright © 2005 by ASME



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