Life Cycle approaches are needed more than ever to deliver more sustainable products, processes and organizations.
Over the past 20 years, a number of organizations such as in particular ISO and the UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative have successfully promoted life cycle thinking and approaches. They have helped to integrate them into standards and advance the practices and the profession of using life cycle information worldwide. Still, a few observations have become apparent over the past few years:
1) It is clear that industry and business seek global consistency and predictability of policies and practices to avoid market distortions or technical barriers to trade through
- regulation and
- voluntary government guidelines.
2) Also, despite the interest of industry and business stakeholders in seeing more evidence based policy-making, Life Cycle approaches are yet to be systematically incorporated in political decision-making processes.
3) Up to now, there has also not been a community-based global voice to proactively promote the uptake of Life Cycle approaches in business, industry and government with enough reach to accelerate and scale up the delivery of more sustainable products, processes and organizations.
4) Despite the growth of the market for sustainability solutions, the market for Life Cycle approaches is still a niche due to:
- lack of awareness of Life Cycle values, principles, and approaches,
- incomplete or outdated information and
- (perceived) difficulties in implementation.
Given the magnitude of the sustainability challenges facing society, we believe that the impact of the work done so far thus needs to be pushed to new levels by building off the many individual professionals who generate and use life cycle information. Life Cycle approaches in this context are to be:
- Easily understood by the public as a key element of sustainable innovation, like addressing climate change nowadays, after opinion leaders have taken it up in the mass media;
- Smoothly integrated by all industries and businesses to guide the use of life cycle information to stimulate innovation of more sustainable products and services;
- Systematically incorporated into political decision-making processes, to ensure that innovative policies for sustainable development are evidence-based, multi-attribute and balanced.
To make this happen, a massive complementary global professional communication and stakeholder outreach effort is needed. This effort can best be driven by an independent community-orientated global voice that proactively promotes the uptake of Life Cycle information and approaches: the Forum for Sustainability through Life Cycle Innovation (FSLCI).