LCSA database and method

This summer we published our new fully quantitative Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment (LCSA) method and database, all open access. We call it the 2021 Social Footprint method. Social as in welfare economics: ‘An accounting that encompasses the entire societal economy’, not limited to Social as one of the triple bottom lines. And 2021 to signal a significant update from the first 2018 publication.

This month, I presented the method at the 8th International Social Life Cycle Assessment Conference in Aachen, and you can now view the presentation on our YouTube channel. Some important highlights:

  • The impact categories are now based on the ‘capitals’ approach, which ensures complete coverage of impacts on all global assets: natural, manufactured, intellectual, human capabilities, and social networks, while still being quantifiable in the same unit of Quality-Adjusted person-Life-Years (QALYs).
  • Data are available for 163 countries (> 99% of the World in terms of GDP, population, and impacts), bounded by the subjective wellbeing data from the annual UN Happiness reports.
  • Low requirement for company-specific data.
  • 78% of the global impacts are related to inequality in income, which means that results are very easy to interpret and act upon: The more even the income levels are in the product life cycle, the better the social footprint. Once you have identified the hotspots in the life cycle in this way, the database provides ample options for identifying which impacts contribute the most to social impacts in each country, so that you can target your improvements towards the most important problems (and even quantify them).