The Life Cycle Initiative is pleased to present its Progress Report for 2020 activities. The report details the progress made in our three key activity areas: Technical and Policy Advice, Capacity Development, and Knowledge and Consensus Building.

Several projects crossed major milestones in 2020. See the image below for some highlights, and download the full report for more details on the year’s accomplishments and successes.


by Steven Stone, Head of Resources and Markets Branch, UN Environment Programme

With COVID dominating the global landscape and lives and livelihoods around world, 2020 will remain an unforgettable year of challenges and disruption. Through it all, the Life Cycle community continued its work, helping to drive the uptake of life cycle thinking around the world and its contribution to a more sustainable world.  Especially in a time when governments are planning economy recovery packages in response to the pandemic, this momentum is even more critical: now, more than ever, environmental sustainability, social inclusion and leaving no one behind must be central parts of our thinking and efforts to build better and greener economies.

Life cycle approaches are the backbone of designing a sustainable economy.  Results from applying life cycle tools allow decision makers— policy makers, producers and consumers— to make informed choices about where and how action is needed.  The Life Cycle Initiative provides technical advice, policy direction and a community of practice for standardizing life cycle methodologies and indicators. The Initiative is well-positioned to support global sustainable decision making, whether it be in the private or public sector.

A big focus in 2020 was developing practical advice on key environmental issues. On plastics pollution, work focused on life cycle impacts of single-use plastic products and their alternatives, to inform how to best manage this growing threat to health and welfare of the planet and its people. The Sustainable Consumption and Production Hotspots Analysis Tool, SCP-HAT, provided guidance to decision makers, helping them understand which sector(s) need to be looked at in order to reduce unsustainable consumption and production. The Initiative released new methodologies to strengthen life cycle thinking of strategies towards the sustainable development goals and the assessments of social impacts .  A multi-year project, GLAM, is establishing international consensus on a life cycle impact assessment method. A scoping document now 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.  And the launch of the Global LCA Data Access network (GLAD) contribute to start reducing the costs and hurdles of accessing LCA data.

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 the tools and information they need to develop economic recovery plans that can be the seeds of a sustainable new economy.

But the Initiative does not work alone; its work would not be possible without the larger life cycle community.  On behalf of the Initiative I would like to personally thank all the Steering Committee members for their collective work in guiding the Initiative’s activities and their dedication to making life cycle thinking a cornerstone of decision-making processes. Their commitment and that of the Initiative’s members and life cycle community are central in sharing the outcomes of our collective work.  I also want to acknowledge the on-going support to the Initiative’s activities provided by our funding partners, without which much of this work could not happen.

Together with our partners, funders and life cycle community, the visibility of the life cycle agenda and approaches continues to grow as the following pages attest.  Please join us on this journey!