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

  • Published on January 10, 2020
Reducing the environmental impacts from consumption and production systems is a priority of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This requires developing products and services with reduced impacts to human health and the environment. Accordingly, guidance is needed on which quantitative life cycle based indicators are best suited to measure and monitor impacts on human health, ecosystems and natural resources. The goal is to reach consensus as well as to generate tangible and practical recommendations for different environmental indicators and characterization factors for life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) in the areas of 1) global warming, 2) fine particulate matter effects on human health, 3) water use impacts (both scarcity and human health impacts), 4) land use impacts on biodiversity, as well as 5) overall LCIA framework and crosscutting issues in Volume 1. Volume 2 focuses on additional environmental indicators and characterization for LCIA in the areas of 1) acidification and eutrophication, 2) human toxicity 3) mineral resources 4) soil quality and related ecosystem services, 5) ecotoxicity, as well as 6) crosscutting issues.
The recommended environmental indicators represent the current best available knowledge and practice. It is strongly recommended 1) that the Life Cycle Initiative fosters the momentum of co-operation and establishes a community of LCIA researchers and users who act as stewards for these indicators; and 2) to integrate the set of indicators developed into a fully consistent and comprehensive LCIA global method. The implementation of the indicators in LCA software and databases asks for quality assurance measures such as verification and standard nomenclatures. Spatially differentiated indicators (e.g., ecotoxicity and soil quality) call for parsimonious approaches from the knowledge gained in LCA research projects in which a high geographic resolution is applied to common LCA studies where geographic information is often lacking. These indicators are highly relevant to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, to quantify and monitor progress towards sustainable production and consumption: governments and non-state actors are called to invest in their continued development and maintenance. Overall, this project is to provide guidance on a distinct set of indicators in: 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

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