University of Oulu

Fedorova, E.; Aaltonen, K.; Pongrácz, E. Social Sustainability Dilemma: Escape or Communicate? Managing Social Risks Upstream of the Bioenergy Supply Chain. Resources 2020, 9, 7.

Social sustainability dilemma: escape or communicate? : managing social risks upstream of the bioenergy supply chain

Saved in:
Author: Fedorova, Elena1; Aaltonen, Kirsi2; Pongrácz, Eva1
Organizations: 1Faculty of Technology Energy and Environmental Engineering Research Unit, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 4300, 90014 Oulu, Finland
2Faculty of Industrial Engineering and Management, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 4300, 90014 Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.5 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-04-03


Supply chain risk management has been well researched over the years. However, management of social risks in bioenergy supply chains has been studied less in contemporary research. The ability of bioenergy companies to identify, properly address, and communicate social sustainability has become crucial for many global producers. In order to meet current EU’s energy and climate targets, the development of sustainable bioenergy production is vital. However, over last decade, research of bioenergy production supply chains has indicated that upstream areas of global bioenergy production systems are vulnerable in terms of social sustainability risks. The main objective of this research was to demonstrate how the socially sustainable supply chain practices in bioenergy supply chains can help a production company manage social risks and resources-use related conflicts upstream of the supply chain. These practices can be applied in the process of negotiation between bioenergy producers, local authorities, and communities for creating win-win situations for all parties while planning new bioenergy production systems. This study pays special attention to social sustainability risks at the upstream of the supply chain in countries of raw material origin. Use of social sustainability practices intends to help identify, assess, and address social risks of supply chain activities for bioenergy companies. Moreover, such practices aim at supporting companies and their stakeholders in making right choices and preparing effective strategies ahead of time. We based our research on empirical evidence and offer solutions to multi-national bioenergy production companies on how to manage social risks, allowing them to make the right decisions and necessary adjustments before entering potential markets. Our findings show that even avoidance of market entrance can carry sustainability-related social risks for both the company and the local communities. We suggest that although the financial element plays an important role in decision-making, the no-go decision often means missed opportunities for local communities to improve their respective sustainability states.

see all

Series: Resources
ISSN: 2079-9276
ISSN-E: 2079-9276
ISSN-L: 2079-9276
Volume: 9
Issue: 1
Article number: 7
DOI: 10.3390/resources9010007
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1172 Environmental sciences
218 Environmental engineering
Funding: This research was funded by UniOGS.
Copyright information: © 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (