The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) launched in 2002 an International Life Cycle Partnership, known as the Life Cycle Initiative, to enable users around the world to put life cycle thinking into effective practice. The Life Cycle Initiative responds the call by Governments around the world for a Life Cycle economy in the Malmo Declaration (2000). It contributes to the 10-Year Framework of Programmes to promote sustainable consumption and production patterns, as requested at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg (2002).
The Life Cycle Initiative’s activities to date have been carried out in two phases. The first phase (2002-2007) focused on establishing the Life Cycle Initiative as a global focal point of life cycle-related knowledge and activities, and building a community of practitioners and stakeholders. Activities to move the life cycle agenda forward concentrated on three important fields of work – life cycle management, life cycle inventory and life cycle impact assessment – and the cross-cutting area of social impacts along the life cycle. Phase 2 activities (2007-2012) saw the Life Cycle Initiative evolve to be more participative, encouraging more involvement from global stakeholders in order to achieve common understanding and agreement on tools and strategies being developed. The main outcomes of this phase were accomplished through close collaboration with key actors in the field.
The added value of the Life Cycle Initiative includes:
- The ability to access and mobilize an established and growing global network of over 2000 interested members who have been and continue to be interested in understanding and advancing Life Cycle approaches worldwide. These experts represent industry, Government, academics and the service sectors and are the leaders in developing and applying Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Life Cycle Management (LCM) worldwide.
- The ability to gather and manage examples of best practices and Life Cycle achievements across the world.
- The status of being considered as one stop shop for Life Cycle approaches.
- The opportunity to connect science and decision making in policy and business with the supply and demand side of Life Cycle approaches. Therefore, and opportunity exists to become the global authority for consensus building and peer review on methodological questions and environmental assessments of natural resources, materials and products in the field of science.
Building on the successes of the first two phases of activities from 2002 to 2012 and following from the expert consultation outcomes, the Life Cycle Initiative will start Phase 3 in 2012 with the following mission, overarching goal and objectives.