Life Cycle Initiative Background
The Life Cycle Initiative is a response to the call from governments 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 World Summit on Sustainable Development plan of implementation states:
"We must develop production and consumption policies to improve the products and services provided, while reducing environmental and health impacts, using, where appropriate, science-based approaches, such as life cycle analysis"
The concept of LIFE CYCLE THINKING integrates existing consumption and production strategies, preventing a piece-meal approach. Life cycle approaches avoid problem shifting from one lefe cycle stage to another, from one geographic area to another and from one environmental medium to another. Human needs should be met by providing functions of products and services, such as food, shelter and mobility, through optimised consumption and production systems that are contained within the capacity of the ecosystem.
Life Cycle Management (LCM) has been developed as an integrated concept for managing the total life cycle of products and services towards more sustainable consumption and production patterns.
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is an analytical tool for the systematic evaluation of the environmental aspects of a product or service system through all stages of its life cycle.
are increasingly interested in the world behind the product they buy. Life
cycle thinking implies that everyone in the whole chain of a product's life
cycle, from cradle to grave, has a responsibility and a role to play, taking
into account all the relevant
external effects. The impacts of all
life cycle stages need to be considered comprehensively when taking informed
decisions on production and consumption patterns, policies and management
Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director,
The organisational structure of the UNEP/ SETAC co-operation has been designed to ensure long - term commitment to life cycle approaches. Both UNEP and SETAC have already been successful separately in advancing life cycle approaches world-wide, the union will only make their long - term contribution grow. The environmental conscience of the UN system is co-operating with the scientific reference organisation on LCM and LCA matters to implement life cycle approaches based on the ISO 14040 series that were finalised in 2002.
On 31 May 2000, in the "Malmö Declaration", the Ministers of Environment, gathered at the first Global Ministerial Environment Forum, stated that "[Our efforts] must be linked to the development of cleaner and more resource efficient technologies for a life-cycle economy". The Malmö Declaration was the basis for UNEP to launch the Life Cycle Initiative that took place on 28 April 2002. Moreover, life cycle thinking has taken so much relevance that the Malmö Declaration was reinforced at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in September 2002.
In February 2003, in the Ministerial Meeting of UNEP's Governing Council, Mr. Borge Brende, Minister of Norway also expressed his position on life cycle thinking by emphasizing the relevance of promoting eco-efficient consumption. He noted "the importance of enabling consumers to make informed product choices through life cycle analysis, eco-labeling initiatives and other information tools."