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Regional Sustainable Development & LCA

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Background Statement & Working Group Name

Home Forums FSLCI Working Group Forums FSLCI Regional LCT Working Group Background Statement & Working Group Name

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    • #10372
      Fritz Balkau

      Dear all,

      please find below the background statement for as to why we would like to establish this working group:

      Life cycle methodologies have come a long way in recent years. Some procedures are now standardised under ISO, many have a lengthy history of use. Further methodological development is under way. The use of various assessment tools to underpin life cycle management is accelerating, even if LCM has not yet been standardised.

      The rapid development of methodologies has resulted in uneven application on the ground. Much of the use of LC tools is still in the hands of researchers and consultants using language and procedures that are incomprehensible to the end-clients. Mostly the emphasis we do see is focussed on products and materials, and on corporate interests in design and market research.

      Sadly, some significant potential applications are being left behind, with important potential stakeholders unaware of, or inexperienced in, the use of LC techniques. Public sector bodies such as municipalities, regions and cities are among these, despite the importance on our sustainability of their decision-making and the budgets they employ in purchasing, contracting and providing services. These are ‘neglected clients’ that are at present poorly serviced by the life cycle community for a number of reasons, whether through poorly-adapted life cycle tools (designed for industry use, with corporate jargon), insufficient outreach (how many of them attend LC conferences?), and often insufficiently lucrative for consultants to bother with.

      The consequences show the impact of this neglect. Many municipalities have sustainability policies based on a small number of single issues (energy is common, as is waste), that are managed through procedures that mostly do not consider the full life-chains, nor the extended time periods, nor the reality of spill-over impacts on other sustainability criteria. Unsustainable public purchasing is an illustrative example of this problem, but materials flow management (including, but not only, waste), resource efficiency, infrastructure development are also suffering from life cycle neglect.

      Many municipalities or regions are subconsciously aware that there are better ways to address sustainability, but lack the insights and skills to reorient their procedures. The common approach of treating sustainability as a “management extra” rather than as a core issue just amplifies the dilemma. Awareness is not enough; a key question is ‘where and how to start?’.

      There is an opportunity now for FSLCI to integrate the public sector as both target and client, learning more about its situation, the potential to help, and providing outreach to bring the sector closer to the centre of assessment and LCM activity. An important additional benefit from this is that it brings the public and corporate sectors closer together on life cycle thinking.

      A recent publication on regional approaches to sustainability noted that some reflection by the life cycle community on how to adapt its methodologies and its language to specific client groups would also help to make LCA, LCC, MFA, MFCA, LCM etc more accessible to public sector bodies and their managers and advisors. Rather than observing the drifting apart, FSLCI could help to bring the various stakeholders and interested parties closer together into a common life cycle mindset.

      A new working group within FSLCI could help orient the considerable human resources inherent in its membership towards new clients, to further adapt useful methodologies, and generally encourage a more complete integration of life cycle stakeholders who do not yet realise the full potential of this more holistic thinking and management.

      Now we would like to know, what would be the best name for a working group on the subject? We have come up with a variety of ideas:

      “FSLCI Working Group on:
      – “Life Cycle Procedures for Regional Sustainability”
      – “Life Cycle Tools for Regions” 
      – “Regional Life Cycle Tools”
      – “Regional Life Cycles”
      – “Regional LCM” or “Regional LCA”
      – “Regional Life Cycle Thinking”

      Let us know what you prefer by commenting below!

      Thanks in advance!

    • #10374

      Dear Fritz,

      thanks for your proposal to open a working group on the subject. I agree that this is an important topic and would love to see FSLCI members become engaged on the subject!

      With regards to the name I feel the working group is meant to promote life cycle thinking or a life cycle perspective among regional decision-makers, hence I feel a name that responds to this idea would be good. As such I prefer “Regional LCM” or “Regional LCT” the most, because it’s not limiting to tools.

      Looking forward to hear what others think!

      Kind regards, Philip

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