Public sector bodies such as municipalities, regions and cities are key stakeholders to drive sustainability through their ability to set policy implementation frameworks and through the budgets they employ in purchasing, contracting and providing services. Despite their relevance, the life cycle community and its tools have mostly been targeting industry stakeholders.

As a result, many municipalities and regions 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 cycle, 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?’.

Given this backdrop, FSLCI aims 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.

Background Publication

Members of the FSLCI’s Regional Working Group published this book in 2016. Life Cycle Approaches to Sustainable Regional Development explains the ways life cycle methodologies and tools can be used to strengthen regional socio-economic planning and development in a more sustainable manner.

The book advocates the adoption of systematic and long-term criteria for development decision-making, taking into account the full life cycle of materials and projects. It describes life cycle practices from both a scientific and a practitioner point of view, highlighting examples and case studies at regional level.

The applications are relevant to key economic sectors, as well as for internal planning and administrative procedures. It concludes with a synthesis chapter that distills the key messages from the authors into practical guidance points on how best to use such approaches to enhance sustainability in regional development. The book is essential reading for regional and urban planners who are integrating life cycle thinking into their policy regimes, as well as for researchers working to further evolve life cycle methodologies.

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