We’ve said good-bye to 2020 and have jumped into 2021 with renewed vigour

2020 was certainly a memorable year with COVID dominating globally. While the switch to a virtual world meant cancelled events and lost opportunities for spontaneous encounters, the Life Cycle community continued its diverse work, helping to drive the uptake of life cycle thinking around the world. For the Life Cycle Initiative Secretariat, the year has built on the strong push that life cycle approaches received in UNEA4, in March 2019. We have been busy delivering, among others, the request from member states to deliver LCA studies comparing single-use plastic products and their alternatives, as well as the enabling conditions for life cycle approaches to be used globally. Particularly, the work on single-use plastic products has brought the Initiative much closer to the policy-making scene, with the presentation of these studies to e.g., the ad hoc expert group that is debating on a potential global agreement to combat plastic pollution in the context of UNEA, or to a joint commission of Mexico’s Senate and Congress Houses preparing the revision of legislation on single-use plastic products; the “next stop” will be the Geneva “Beat Plastic Pollution Dialogues” in the run up to UNEA5 (see calendar section). The Initiative is also shaping action of countries to deal with plastic pollution hotspots.

2020 also saw the launch of the Global LCA Data Access network (GLAD), and of Phase 3 of the Global Life Cycle Impact Assessment (GLAM), a multi-stakeholder effort of over 300 LCA experts working collectively to create a comprehensive, consistent and global environmental Life Cycle Impact Assessment Method (LCIA). The much-awaited 2020 revision of the Social LCA Guidelines was also just released as we were closing the (virtual) office for the year. Other highlights included expanding the application of the Sustainable Consumption and Production Hotspots Analysis Tool (SCP-HAT), which helps users analyse hotspots in a country or at the sector level where unsustainable consumption and production is happening. E-learning was pushed to the fore as workshops and university classes moved on-line. In this area, on-line courses developed by the Initiative have been enriched with the in-kind translation of the introductory module to Portuguese by Prof. Diogo Aparecido Lopes Silva’s group, and the ongoing agreements by universities across the globe to incorporate these modules in their curricula (e.g. U of Balamand in Lebanon; Witwatersrand in South Africa; Politécnica de Madrid in Spain; Suez Canal in Egypt; to name a few). It is this active engagement from the Life Cycle community which enables the Initiative to punch above its weight, and to bring life cycle approaches to a whole new level of application, both in business and in policy making. We need and appreciate your support, and we look forward to strengthening our collaboration with you and your institution in the new year.

The above is just a snapshot of what the life cycle community is working on. The pandemic has taught us what matters most, and the significant recovery packages being pumped into the economy open the opportunity to “Build Forward Better”. The Initiative is striving to provide countries with information of their key areas of unsustainable consumption and production, so the economic recovery plans can be the seed of a sustainable new economy.

Stay updated on all the Initiative news in 2021

Don’t forget to stay abreast of all developments!