Increasing Our Positive Impact

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Handprint – A complementary measure of positive sustainability impacts

The handprint is an innovative and holistic approach to facilitate the measurement, evaluation, and communication of the ecological, economic and social sustainability impacts of products. The existing approach of the footprint focuses on negative ecological impacts on individuals, organizations or countries. The handprint shall also determine, measure and evaluate the positive sustainability impacts including the ecological, social and economic dimensions. While the widespread footprint is used to metaphorically symbolize negative impacts, the handprint represents the positive and innovative impacts contributing to sustainable development.

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A holistic approach including the handprint and the footprint of ecological, economic and social impacts

It is the nature of the handprint that it won´t always be easy to measure. Nevertheless, a development towards an objective evaluation is possible and necessary. An example of the necessity to consider positive as well as negative assessment criteria is the cultivation of organic cotton or grain: Due to lower yields in ecological agriculture, more land is needed (footprint). In contrast, ecological agriculture in general also provides more humus formation, more micro-bacterial activity and an increased biodiversity (handprint).

Furthermore, the handprint enables the inclusion of social factors in the sustainability assessment of a product, e.g. increased customer satisfaction, the enhancement of social wellbeing or educational effects. The handprint covers the whole product lifecycle. The final methodology of the assessment, measurement and communication will be determined during the project led by the Collaborating Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production (CSCP). A focus lies on key figures or indicators of the sustainability of a product, considering both the handprint and the footprint.

The approach creates more transparency of a product´s sustainability impacts and can therefore support economic actors to better meet the requirements of society. In this context, the handprint will play a key role regarding the communication of sustainability performance.

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