Social Life Cycle Assessment (S-LCA) is a methodology developed in order to assess the negative and positive social impacts of products and services, along their life cycle (Joergensen et al., 2007).Guidelines for S-LCA were first published in 2009 as a project of the UNEP/SETAC Life cycle Initiative (today UN Environment Life Cycle Initiative) (UNEP/SETAC, 2009; Benoît et al., 2011). In the last 10 years, further developments and numerous implementations have been carried out, defining in more detail the methodology, its indicators and impact assessment methods. After those ten years, a revision of the current version of the Guidelines became necessary.
The project for the revision of the Guidelines of Social Life cycle assessment of Products, and the related Methodological Sheets started in September 2017 led by Social LC Alliance. Several experts and practitioners of S-LCA were involved already at the beginning of the project.
Following a break of 4 years, in May 2018, the UNEP Life Cycle Initiative published the new strategy prioritizing social life cycle assessment under the umbrella activities of the Initiative. As a consequence, the review project was sponsored by the UNEP Life Cycle Initiative from May 2018 on.
As lessons learnt from the development of the 2009 Guidelines, the project was designed with two main phases:
- Methodological review of the Guidelines and update of methodological sheets
- Implementation of the new Guidelines in pilot projects
The second phase aims to test the applicability of the Guidelines as well as the benefits and challenges in its implementation.
The pilots or road tests are based on the third draft of the revised Guidelines finalized in December 2019.