Global Guidance for Life Cycle Impact Assessment Indicators and Methods (GLAM)

The Life Cycle Initiative started GLAM in 2013, in collaboration with University of Michigan, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Denmark’s Technical University (DTU), to enhance global consensus on environmental life cycle impact assessment indicators. The project aims to generate tangible and practical recommendations for different environmental indicators and characterization factors used in Life Cycle Impact Assessments (LCIA). GLAM is funded by the Life Cycle Initiative funding partners, Swiss Government, French Government, and German Government.

GLAM works with a balanced mix of participants; international experts from five topical tracks: LCIA method developers, providers of life cycle thinking studies (primarily consultants and industry associations), and users of life cycle information, including governmental and intergovernmental organizations, government, industry, NGOs, and academics.

The different project phases provide guidance on a distinct set of indicators:

  • Phase 1 [2013-2016]: Greenhouse gas emissions and climate change impacts, health impacts of fine particulate matter, water use related impacts – water scarcity and human health impacts, land use related impacts on biodiversity, cross-cutting issues.
  • Phase 2 [2017-2019]: Acidification and eutrophication, human toxicity, natural resources – mineral primary resources, land use impacts on soil quality, ecotoxicity, cross-cutting issues.
  • Phase 3 [2020- now]: Establishing a comprehensive, consistent, and global Environmental Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) method, including classification, midpoint and damage characterization, normalization, and weighting to assess the life cycle impacts of products and services on human health, ecosystem, and natural resources. Consult the Phase 3 Scoping Document.

During the three phases, scientifically robust and applicable methods are identified, including consensus on the conclusions regarding life cycle impacts of products on human health, ecosystem and natural resources, and eventually on a method to consistently combine these environmental impacts into an aggregated score.

Stakeholder consultations and dialogues

The consensus finding activities includes open working groups and systematic stakeholder consultation and dialogue. Over 130 scientists from 28 countries have been involved in the development of the GLAM LCIA method, including defining the method itself and how to operationalize it. More than 250 people, worldwide, have participated to two stakeholder consultations, providing important feedback. Building on these comments, the final scoping document maps out a clear path towards a global LCIA method, bringing us one step closer to our goal of building consensus around life cycle knowledge.

Consult the recording of the stakeholder consultation for this project that took place on 7 May 2020 online, with the participation of close to 200 people from around the world. 117 participants are already involved in the project, including 32% female and an encouraging 13% participants from Asia, Africa or Latin America and the Caribbean

Consult the recording of the stakeholder consultation for this project that took place on 18 November 2020 online. Topics included milestones in LCIA guidance, an overview of the GLAM task forces: human health; ecosystem quality; natural resource and ecosystem services; normalisation, weighting and cross-cutting issues.

The slides (pdf) are available for download.

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