Stephen Morse

Professor Stephen Morse

Chair in Systems Analysis for Sustainability
+44 (0)1483 686079
04B AA 02
Personal tutees: Wednesdays from 12 noon to 1pm


Affiliations and memberships

Higher Education Academy
Royal Society of Biology


Research interests

Research collaborations




Morse S. Ranking Nations: The Value of Indicators and Indices? Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. ISBN: 978 1 80088 630 8. Due October 2023. Link: Ranking Nations (

The monograph explores challenges associated with using index-based rankings for countries. Examining international ranking systems such as the Human Development Index and Corruption Perception Index, the book considers what they tell us about the world and whether there may be alternatives to these ranking techniques. It provides an important contemporary view on ranking systems by analysing not only how they are reported by traditional sources of media, but also by social media.


Morse, A, Andries A and Murphy RM (2022) (editors). Space for Sustainability: Using Data from Earth Observation to Support Sustainable Development Indicators. MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. ISBN 978-3-0365-4265-2 (Hbk); ISBN 978-3-0365-4266-9

Global progress toward living sustainably is now urgently needed. Actions for sustainability are typically informed through the use of indicator-based frameworks that encompass diverse attributes of the environmental, social and economic dimensions of ‘sustainability’. Reporting on such indicators is embedded in frameworks such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with the primary responsibilities for reporting borne by national and local governments. Additionally, many businesses and public bodies (e.g., universities, health services) are increasingly under internal and external pressure to similarly report via these sustainability indicators, especially as part of the SDGs, and such reporting is of increasing interest to investors and the financial services sectors from a risk and assurance perspective. However, the use of these indicator-based frameworks involves many challenges, and one of the most significant of these is the challenge of acquiring sufficient, timely and good-quality data to populate these indicators via ‘conventional’ methods (e.g., surveys at the local, national or corporate level) as this is often expensive and time consuming. Many developing regions, in particular, suffer from a lack of resources or established systems for such data collection and, indeed, this is also proving to be challenging for more developed economies. One approach to address this issue of data provision for indicators of sustainable development (SD) is the use of Earth Observation (EO). EO-based data, geospatial information and ‘big data’ can support the population of sustainability indicators at all scales, and the integration of these sources is a step forward in advancing the well-being of our societies. While EO-derived data have been used for many years to assess important issues such as deforestation and changes in land use, their use to address more socioeconomic issues (e.g., inequality, poverty, corruption, health care) within SD remains limited. Nonetheless, EO tools and technologies are developing rapidly with an expanding range of capabilities, resolutions, frequency, data power, accuracy, etc., and this is anticipated to continue into the foreseeable future. The papers in this book set out some of the frontiers regarding the use of EO data for SD indicators, and given the rapid progress in the field, it provides a timely and welcome milestone in the journey.

Morse S., McNamara, N., Adamu S., Nathan N, Adedipe Y, Kabir M, Onwuaroh A and Otene N. (2020). Social Networks and Food Security in the Urban Fringe. Part of the ‘Urban Perspectives from the Global South’ series. Springer Nature, Cham, Switzerland.

The book explores how social groups in the urban fringe of Abuja, Nigeria, engaged with a series of development projects spanning 15 years (2003 to 2018) which focused on the enhancement of food security for farming households. The groups were at the heart of these development projects and the book presents the many insights that were gained by farmers and project agents working within these partnerships and provides advice for those seeking to do the same. The book also explores how the social groups attempted to lever benefits from being near to the fastest growing city in Africa and a centre of economic and political power. While much has been written about social groups and their embeddedness within wider social networks in Africa and in other parts of the world, the exploration of the role of social groups within development projects is an area that remains relatively unchartered and this book seeks to fill that important gap in knowledge. It provides an important contribution for all those researching and working with social groups in the developing world

Morse S. (2019). The Rise and Rise of Indicators: Their History and Geography. Routledge, London. ISBN 9780415786812

This book makes indicators more accessible, in terms of what they are, who created them and how they are used. It examines the subjectivity and human frailty behind these quintessentially ‘hard’ and technical measures of the world. To achieve this goal, The Rise and Rise of Indicators presents the world in terms of a selected set of indicators. The emphasis is upon the origins of the indicators and the motivation behind their creation and evolution. The ideas and assumptions behind the indicators are made transparent to demonstrate how changes to them can dramatically alter the ranking of countries that emerge. They are, after all, human constructs and thus embody human biases. The book concludes by examining the future of indicators and the author sets out some possible trajectories, including the growing emphasis on indicators as important tools in the Sustainable Development Goals that have been set for the world up until 2030. This is a valuable resource for undergraduate and postgraduate students in the areas of economics, sociology, geography, environmental studies, development studies, area studies, business studies, politics and international relations.

Suckling J., Morse S., Murphy R., Astley S., Halford J.C.G., Harrold J. A., Le-Bail A., Koukouna E., Musinovic H., Perret J., Raben A., Roe M., Scholten J., Scott C., Stamatis C. and Westbroek C. (2023) Environmental life cycle assessment of production of the high intensity sweetener steviol glycosides from Stevia rebaudiana leaf grown in Europe: The SWEET project. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 28, 221–233


There is an increasing interest in the use of non-nutritive sweeteners to replace added sugar in food and beverage products for reasons of improving consumer health. Much work has been done to understand safety of sweeteners, but very little on sustainability. To address that gap, this study presents the results of a life cycle assessment (LCA) of production of rebaudioside A 60%, 95% pure (RA60) steviol glycoside mix from Stevia rebaudiana leaf grown in Europe.


An attributional cradle-to-factory-gate life cycle assessment was conducted on growing of stevia leaves and extraction of steviol glycosides in Europe. Primary data were used from a case study supply chain. Results are reported in impact categories from the ReCiPe 2016 (H) method, with focus given to global warming potential, freshwater eutrophication, water consumption, and land use. Impacts are expressed both in terms of production mass and sweetness equivalence, a common metric for understanding high intensity sweetener potency. Sweetness equivalence of RA60 is typically 200 to 300 times that of sugar. Comparison of environmental impact is made to sugar (sucrose) produced from both cane and beets. The research is part of the EU project SWEET (sweeteners and sweetness enhancers: impact on health, obesity, safety, and sustainability).

Results and discussion

Global warming potential for production of RA60 was found to be 20.25 kgCO2-eq/kgRA60 on a mass basis and 0.081 kgCO2-eq/kgSE on a sweetness equivalence basis. Field production of stevia leaves was found to be the main source of impact for most impact categories, and for all four focus categories. Extraction of the RA60 was the main source of impact for the others. Leaf processing and seedling propagation were minor contributors to life cycle impact. Removal of international transport from the supply chain reduced global warming potential by 18.8%. Compared with sugar on a sweetness equivalence basis, RA60 has approximately 5.7% to 10.2% the impact for global warming potential, 5.6% to 7.2% the impact for land use, and is lower across most other impact categories.


This is the first LCA of steviol glycoside mix RA60 produced from leaf in Europe. The results indicate that RA60 can be used to reduce environmental impact of providing a sweet taste by replacing sugar across all impact categories. However, it is important to note that specific formulations in which RA60 is used will have a bearing on the final environmental impact of any food or beverage products. For solid foods, this requires further research.

Andries A, Morse S, Murphy RJ, Sadhukhan J, Hernandez EM, Allieri MAA and Anell JAA (2023) Potential of using night-time light to proxy social indicators for sustainable development. Remote Sensing 15(5), 1209

Satellite-observed night-time light (NTL) data provide a measure of the lighting brightness seen from space at different times and spatial and temporal resolutions, thus offering opportunities to explore them in many applications at different spatial locations (global, regional, local). However, most applications to date have been at relatively large spatial scales, despite the need to measure indicators at a local level. This paper sets out an analysis of the potential of NTL data for populating indicators at more local (neighbourhood, street) scales. We first reviewed the overall potential of NTL data for social indicators at different spatial scales by using a systematic search of the literature and applying the Maturity Matrix Framework (MMF). We also explored a case study (Durango State, Mexico) using Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) imageries, other geospatial data, and the social gap index (SGI) to identify social gaps at the local scale. The literature review showed that NTL can play a role in supporting 49 out of 192 sustainable development goal (SDG) indicators having a focus on social issues, but most of these have been explored at the global or country scales. In the case study, we found that low radiance is indeed associated with higher SGI levels (i.e., more social deprivation) and vice versa. However, more research is needed from other contexts to support a link between NTL radiance levels and social indicators at local scales.

Chukwu TM, Morse S and Murphy RJ (2023) Perceived Health Impacts, Sources of Information and Individual Actions to Address Air Quality in Two Cities in Nigeria. Sustainability 15(7), 6124

Poor air quality (PAQ) has serious effects on the environment, climate change, and human health. This study investigated the perceived health impacts of PAQ in two cities in Nigeria (Abuja and Enugu), including whether PAQ may have an interaction with COVID-19 infection and intensity. A recent report published in the Lancet has pointed to the complexity of the health care system in Nigeria and a lack of data on disease burden, so the research in this paper took a self-reporting (perceptual) approach to exploring the health impacts of PAQ. The research also sought to explore the main sources of information used by people to inform them about air quality (AQ) and the actions they are likely to take to address PAQ. The results imply that many of the respondents in the two cities perceived their health to be adversely affected by PAQ and that PAQ worsens both the chances of infection and the intensity of COVID-19. Unsurprisingly, older people were found to be more vulnerable to the health impacts of PAQ. Most respondents, especially younger ones, obtained their information on AQ via electronic media (internet, social media) rather than printed media. Respondents considered that the primary action to address PAQ is proper waste management. Paying the government to address PAQ was regarded as the least likely action, although the government was acknowledged as having a key responsibility.

Morse S and McNamara N (2023) “This Is Where We Have Scored”: Exploring the Interface between Project and Institutional Sustainability Facilitated by a Faith-Based Development Organisation in Sierra Leone. Sustainability 15(9), 7292

This paper explores the issue of project sustainability through an analysis of the experiences of a Faith-Based Development Organisation (FBDO) in Bo, Sierra Leone. The FBDO in question was approached by members of their local Catholic Women Association (CWA) to help them with the planning and management of a farm that had been donated to them by a chief. They agreed to this, and a series of workshops were held in June 2014, along with follow-up discussions with local experts and businesses as to what could be done to help support the women in their endeavour. Amongst other priorities, the women identified the need for the farm to produce food, income and help with their development. However, an outbreak of the Ebola virus that occurred between 2014 and 2016, following as it did on the back of an 11-year (1991–2002) civil war in Sierra Leone, led to a re-evaluation of the farm project in the eyes of the FBDO as they decided to shift to earlier priorities in education and health care. Given the constraints regarding resources and personnel, community projects, such as the CWA farm project, became of much lesser importance even though it resonated strongly with the goals of the FBDO and government, and had garnered much support amongst international donors. The paper sets out that story, beginning with the workshops and discussions held in 2014, and the ramifications of these responses to various ‘shocks’, such as those presented by the civil war and disease outbreaks (Ebola and COVID-19); it also provides recommendations that might be of use regarding the interface between project and institutional sustainability within FBDOs and, indeed, the wider community of development organisations.

Suckling J, Morse S, Murphy R, Astley S, Boy C, Halford JCG, Harrold JA, Le-Bail A, Koukouna E, Musinovic H, Raben A, Roe M, Scholten J, Scott C, and Westbroek C (2023) Life cycle assessment of the sweetness enhancer thaumatin (E957) produced from Thaumatococcus daniellii fruit foraged from West Africa: The SWEET project. Journal of Cleaner Production 411, 137226

Replacing added sugar with non-nutritive sweeteners and sweetness enhancers is of increasing interest due to the negative health effects of excess sugar consumption. Much has been done to understand health and safety of such sweetening additives, but little on their sustainability. This study, part of the Horizon 2020 SWEET project, presents results from the first life cycle assessment of the sweetness enhancer thaumatin, produced from Thaumatococcus daniellii fruit, from forests in West Africa and extracted in the United Kingdom. Thaumatin is used in formulations to increase perceived sweetness of added sugar, allowing some to be removed. Environmental impact is reported for multiple impact categories from the ReCiPe 2016 (H) method, focusing on global warming potential, land use, water consumption, and freshwater eutrophication. Impacts are expressed in terms of product mass and sweetness equivalence. Global warming potential for production of thaumatin is found to be 719.2 kgCO2-eq/kg. When thaumatin replaces 20% of added sugar, environmental impact for a given sweetness is found to reduce by an average of 19.4% across all impact categories. International transport is a major contributor to global warming potential, as is aril removal from the fruit to freshwater eutrophication and water use, and fruit foraging to land use. However, land use is identified as a key area of future research to improve uncertainty in the data. Results show that thaumatin can be used to reduce the environmental impact of providing sweet taste in food and beverage products.

Zhang D, Chen J, Liu L, Hao M and Morse S (2023) The waste separation behaviour of primary and middle school students and its influencing factors: Evidence from Yingtan City, China. Environmental Research Communications 5(4), 045002

Waste separation at source has been proved to be an effective way to reduce the amount of municipal solid waste (MSW) which has become a major challenge to China's ecological environment. However, waste source separation requires effort from each individual citizen. As the important drivers of change and potential influencers of the future world, younger Chinese's waste separation behaviour is crucial to the long-term successful implementation of China's MSW separation policy. To explore the waste separation behaviour of younger Chinese and identify the factors that may influence their behaviour so as to better encourage younger generation of Chinese to practice waste sorting in their daily lives, a questionnaire survey of 579 primary and middle school (PMS) students aged between 6 and18 years old (y/o) was carried out in Yingtan City, Jiangxi Province, China. Binary logistic regression was adopted to explore the factors that might influence the respondents' waste separation behaviour. The results indicate that more than half PMS students in Yingtan have participated in waste separation, and junior year students perform better in waste separation practice than their seniors. Students are found to have basic knowledge of MSW classification, but they are more familiar with recyclable waste and hazardous waste than non-recyclable waste. The analysis also highlights positive relationships between PMS students' attitude to waste separation, their willingness to do it, their environmental education and their waste separation behaviour. The level of convenience of waste sorting facilities and influences from friends and families are also positively related to the students' waste separation practice, but families have the strongest influence. The perception of a mandatory waste separation policy would demotivate students in terms of waste separation practice, while giving rewards is considered to be the most effective approach to encouraging waste separation. Finally, management strategies for improving PMS students' waste separation behaviour are discussed and several recommendations for improvement are made.

Morse S (2023) Quality of Life, Well‑Being and the Human Development Index: A Media Narrative for the Developed World? Social Indicators Research 170, 1035–1058

The Human Development Index (HDI) produced by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has been in existence since 1990. In its annual Human Development Reports (HDRs) the UNDP provides rankings of countries based on the HDI, and the idea is that these will help bring about positive change as countries compare their performance in the rankings with what they see as their peers. The HDRs are widely reported in the media, and previous research has suggested that the extent of newspaper reporting of the HDI (i.e. number of articles) is greater for those countries at the bottom and top end of the rankings. However, there are gaps in knowledge about how the HDI is reported in these media outlets. For example, to what extent does newspaper reporting of the HDI equate it to terms such as ‘quality of life’ and ‘well-being’, and how does this relate to the ranking of countries based on the HDI? This is the question addressed by the research reported in this paper. Results suggest that newspaper do often associate the terms ‘quality of life and ‘well-being’ with the HDI, and that the association appears to be stronger for countries towards the top-end of the rankings (i.e. those that have more ‘human development’) compared to those at the bottom-end of the rankings. This suggests that the association between reporting of the HDI and ‘quality of life’ and ‘well-being’ is a narrative that is perceived by the media to suit the developed rather than developing world.

Morse S, McNamara N., Nathan N., Shuaibu A., Micah O.I., Kabir M., Onwuaroh A.S. and Otene N. (2023) The Leveraging of Support by Faith-Based Social Groups in Rural Villages of the Federal Capital Territory, Nigeria. Sustainability 15(19), 14251

Social networks and social groups are often regarded as being important elements of social capital. The research set out in this paper is designed to explore whether social groups in villages located close to the Nigerian capital city of Abuja seek to lever benefits from the connections (networks) they may have with the government and others in that city. Of special interest is whether there is a significant difference between secular and faith-based social groups in terms of the leveraging of such support. The research builds upon a previous study that employed a questionnaire-based survey of 26 social groups spanning two area councils (ACs; Bwari and Kwali) in the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria followed by a series of in-depth interviews with leaders of the groups (e.g., chairperson, secretary, and treasurer) to explore the findings. The results were analysed using regression and suggest that most groups (14) had sought to lever support from their connections in Abuja. Those more likely to leverage support were registered with their respective ACls, a requirement for accessing credit from formal lenders, and tended to be smaller in size in terms of membership. There was also some suggestion that leverage was more likely with male social groups than female ones. Registration with an AC was more likely for secular groups than religious ones. Religious-based groups in the villages did not see their activities as being ‘project orientated’ and instead regarded their role as being in community support. Social groups cannot be thought of as static and exclusive and the diversity of such groups at the village scale is a source of strength for their communities. The results have important ramifications for those institutions, especially faith-based ones, wishing to work with social groups to help in the design and implementation of development initiatives.

Siggery B, Bennion H, Morse S, Murphy R and Waite M (2023) Practitioner perspectives on the application of palaeoecology in nature conservation. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 11, 1304510.

It is widely recognised that palaeoecology holds great potential to inform and support nature conservation, but that there are difficulties in knowledge exchange between academia and practitioners that inhibit the operationalisation of research. To facilitate the integration of palaeoecology into the conservation toolkit, it is essential to understand perspectives of the practitioners themselves and the contexts in which they work. This paper reports the results of a survey of 153 UK-based conservation practitioners, concerning their perceptions of palaeoecology, the barriers to its use and potential solutions for making palaeoecological insights more accessible in conservation practice. The survey was conducted online over a period of 3 months; closed question responses were analysed for statistical trends and thematic analysis was done on open question responses. The majority of respondents were strongly positive about the role palaeoecological research could play, though they also exhibited a limited understanding of how and why one might implement it. They identified time constraints as the biggest barrier to using palaeoecology within their work, and also flagged concerns around financial resources and the accessibility of the research. Access to applied case studies and a centralised database were the most favoured solutions among respondents. Respondents with prior experience of working with palaeoecology were generally more optimistic about its incorporation. This paper makes several key recommendations to progress the integration of palaeoecology into conservation, including improving data accessibility, aligning research design with conservation and policy drivers, and increasing both respective groups’ understanding of the other.

Andries A, Morse S, Murphy RJ and Woolliams ER (2023) Examining Adaptation and Resilience Frameworks: Data Quality’s Role in Supporting Climate Efforts. Sustainability 15(18), 13641

The current landscape of climate change adaptation and resilience policies, frameworks, and indicators is rapidly changing as nations, organizations, and individuals acknowledge the urgent need to address its impacts. Various methods for adaptation and resilience are developed and monitored through formal indicators. However, there are gaps in indicator development and monitoring, including the need for more indicators to address monitoring gaps, lacks in the availability of fit-for-purpose (quality and quantity) data sets, and interpretation challenges. Especially at the local level, these gaps are pronounced. In this study, we assessed current policies, frameworks, and indicators, and conducted semi-structured interviews with stakeholders. A key concern raised was the difficulty in handling insufficient, quality data, particularly in developing nations, hindering adaptation implementation. Respondents also noted the lack of a standardised approach/tool for planning, monitoring, and evaluation. To address this, stakeholders advocated for local indicators and a unified approach/tool. Comparable and consistent data, collected by qualified personnel, were emphasised. Effective adaptation plans are vital in responding to climate change, yet challenges persist in planning, implementation, and monitoring, reporting, and verification phases. A recommended solution involves a common measurement approach for adaptation and resilience, alongside tailored local strategies to ensure success of these plans.

Nualnoom P., Wehrmeyer W. and Morse S. (2023) Holistic analysis of stakeholder financial trade-offs in land use switching: Case study of oil palm promotion in Thailand. Tropical Agriculture (Trinidad) 100(4), 329-350

Stakeholder involvement is crucial to the success of biofuel policy implementation. While many approaches are used to assess potential impacts on stakeholders, these approaches do not consider stakeholders holistically. This research is an attempt to develop a metric of the financial impact on stakeholders derived from land use switching caused by biofuel development policy in Thailand. The results regarding the impacts of land use switching from the analysis of secondary data from the input-output national accounts of Thailand reveal that switching paddy areas to oil palm cultivation would clearly provide better contributions to the stakeholders in the supply chain and to the whole economy. However, the impact of switching land use from rubber to oil palm would benefit some stakeholders (input providers and transporters at the crop farming stage and input providers and entrepreneurs at the industrial processing stage), while the farmers and other stakeholders would lose. These findings imply that the overall positive financial trade-offs of land use switching from paddy rice to oil palm are an important factor that should cause the government to ignore unintended consequences that undermine the effectiveness of policies by allowing oil palm expansion to replace paddy rice area.

Blenkley E., Suckling J., Morse S., Murphy R., Raats M., Astley S., Halford J.C.G., Harrold J.A., Le‑Bail A., Koukouna E., Musinovic H., Raben A., Roe M., Scholten J., Scott C. and Westbroek C. (2023) Environmental life cycle assessment of production of the non‑nutritive sweetener sucralose (E955) derived from cane sugar produced in the United States of America: The SWEET project. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 28, 1689–1704

There is increasing concern about the detrimental health effects of added sugar in food and drink products. Sweeteners are seen as a viable alternative. Much work has been done on health and safety of using sweeteners as a replacement for added sugar, but very little on their sustainability. This work aims to bridge that gap with a life cycle assessment (LCA) of sucralose derived from cane sugar grown in the United States of America (USA).

An attributional, cradle-to-gate LCA was conducted on sucralose production in the USA. Primary data were derived from literature for the chlorination process, and all other data from background sources. Results are reported via the ReCiPe 2016 (H) method, with focus given to land use, global warming potential (GWP), marine eutrophication, mineral resource scarcity, and water consumption. Because sucralose has a much greater perceived sweetness than sugar, impacts are expressed both in absolute terms of 1 kg mass and in relative sweetness equivalence terms to 1 kg sugar. Scenario modelling explores the sensitivity of the LCA results to change in key parameters. This research was conducted as part of the EU Horizon 2020 project SWEET (Sweeteners and sweetness enhancers: Impact on health, obesity, safety and sustainability).

Results and discussion
GWP for 1 kg sucralose was calculated to be 71.83 kgCO2-eq/kg (sugar from sugarcane is 0.77 kgCO2-eq/kg). However, on a sweetness equivalence basis, GWP of sucralose reduces to 0.12 kgCO2-eq/kgSE. Production of reagents was the main contributor to impact across most impact categories. Sugar (starting material for sucralose production) was not a majority contributor to any impact category, and changing the source of sugar has little effect upon net impact (average 2.0% variation). Instead, uncertainty in reference data is a greater source of variability: reagent use optimization reduces average impact of sucralose production by approximately 45.4%. In general, sucralose has reduced impact compared to sugar on an equivalent sweetness basis, however, due to data uncertainty, the reduction is not significant for all impact categories.

This LCA is the first for sucralose produced from cane sugar produced in the USA. Results indicate that sucralose has the potential to reduce the environmental impact of replacing the sweet taste of sugar. However, data were derived from literature and future collaboration with industry would help in reducing identified uncertainties. Accounting for functional use of sucralose in food and drink formulations is also necessary to fully understand the entire life cycle impact.

Suckling J., Morse S., Murphy R., Raats M., Astley S., Halford J.C.G., Harrold J.A., Le-Bail A., Koukouna E., Musinovic H., Raben A., Roe M., Scholten J., Scott C. and Westbroek C. (2023) Environmental life cycle assessment of production of the non-nutritive sweeteners aspartame (E951) and neotame (E961) from chemical processes: The SWEET project. Journal of Cleaner Production 424, 138854

Consumption of added sugar is a cause of concern due to links with non-communicable diseases. Non-nutritive sweeteners (NNSs) are increasingly seen as a viable alternative. Health and safety of NNSs are well studied, but not their environmental impact. In this study the environmental impact of NNSs aspartame and neotame are presented. This is the first such study attempting to quantify environmental impact of neotame. Life cycle data are derived from literature, alongside stoichiometric reaction equations and resulting heat changes. Global warming potential (GWP) of 1 kg aspartame is found to be 29.25 kgCO2-eq/kg, and 1 kg neotame to be 43.42 kgCO2-eq/kg. It is found that both NNSs have great potential to replace the sweetness of added sugar with reduced environmental impact, e.g., GWP of neotame is found to be 0.4–0.7%, and aspartame 10.5–18.4%, of an equivalent sweetness for sucrose. This study demonstrates that environmental impact of the additional resources required to make neotame from aspartame are more than offset by the increase in perceived sweetness, from 200 to 8000-times. It is shown that there are significant uncertainties related to life cycle inventory data and data derivation method. Therefore, this work further highlights the difficulties of conducting a life cycle assessment of highly refined industrial food additives and the need for good industrial collaboration in obtaining data.

Martinez-Hernandez, E., Castillo-Landero, A., Dominguillo-Ramírez, D., Amezcua-Allieri, M.A., Morse, S., Murphy, R.J., Aburto, J. and Sadhukhan, J. (2024) Priorities and relevance of bioenergy sustainability indicators: A participatory selection framework applied to community-based forestry in Mexico. Energy Research & Social Science 109, 103425

Assessing how bioenergy projects translate into socioeconomic benefits is needed to demonstrate its value in industrial decarbonisation and sustainability strategies. This work presents a framework for bioenergy sustainability assessment wherein a set of indicators are selected, co-developed and weighted using a participatory approach. The framework integrates stakeholder identification, literature review and overlap analysis to derive an initial set of indicators used for participatory selection. The framework applied to bioenergy in community-based forestry in Mexico with participation of community and local stakeholders revealed sustainability indicator priorities and relevance in regards to occupational injury, illness and fatalities, training and/or education, use of renewable energy and household income (economic pillar); access to household electricity service, to municipal water supply, to sewerage service and to fuel, and female participation (social pillar); the loss of natural resources and grazing land, waste reduction for energy and sewage water treatment (environmental pillar). Indicators related to streetlighting were downplayed by the participants while forest fires, soil erosion, reduction of waste burning, and reduction of water use were indicators derived from the concerns expressed by the participants. The framework was useful for capturing stakeholders' relevance and priorities to make indicator selection more realistic in measuring the bioenergy impacts and co-benefits for local community. The framework using a participatory approach allows for validation with stakeholders across the scales (local, regional, and national) which can be applied to other bioenergy case studies. The framework is also a step towards an approach integrating bottom-up and top-down perspectives.

Morse S (2024) Giving and Receiving: Faith and the Sustainability of Institutions Providing Microfinance Services for Development. Sustainability 16(5), 1923

opic: This review explores the important issue of the ‘institutional sustainability’ (IS) of faith-based development organizations (FBDOs) providing microfinance services to the poor in the developing world. IS has often been equated with the financial self-reliance of microfinance service providers, with income from credit charged on loans as well as other fees being used to pay for the service. While the approaches and tensions inherent in the attainment of IS by microfinance providers seeking to help the poorest in society have been well explored in the literature, there has been no specific analysis of FBDO providers and the special challenges they may face. Methodology: This paper is based on a review of the literature using a combination of search terms such as ‘microfinance’, ‘development’, ‘institutional sustainability’, ‘financial self-reliance’ and ‘faith’, with a special emphasis on the literature published between the 1990s and 2023. Results: One of the main findings is that Christian and Hindu FBDOs providing microfinance largely follow the financial self-reliance conceptualization of IS applied by secular providers and apply much the same set of responses regarding the setting of interest rates and other charges and the management of repayment amongst their client base. However, FBDOs of the Islamic faith take a broader perspective on IS and include the need for spirituality and religious development amongst their clients. Future directions: This paper makes a number of suggestions for future research, including (1) the reasons why religious development and spirituality do not appear to be strong issues for Christian and Hindu FBDOs relative to their Islamic counterparts; (2) the potential for inter-faith collaboration between FBDOs and secular providers, between FBDOs of different faiths as well as FBDOs from versions of the same faith (e.g., Protestant and Catholic); and (3) whether FBDOs are more naturally predisposed and able to engage and collaborate with the informal microfinance sector than secular microfinance providers.