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Mainstreaming Life Cycle Sustainability Management in Rapidly Growing and Emerging Economies Through Capacity-Building

Sonia Valdivia, Sanjeevan Bajaj, Guido Sonnemann, Ana Quiros, and Cassia Maria Lie Ugaya

Abstract Professionals in companies in industrialised countries as well as consultants and academics working for these companies have acquired capabilities in life cycle sustainability management (LCSM). Actors in emerging economies are beginning to develop those capacities as well, supported by training programmes. This chapter highlights the work of the UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative which has worked toward strengthening LCSM/LCA capacities worldwide since its creation in 2002; presents the current conditions for mainstreaming LCSM following an analysis of available knowledge and infrastructure in 18 rapidly growing economies (including least developed countries, rapidly growing and emerging economies) based on four criteria; and discusses the results and proposes a framework to develop LCSM capacities and provides conclusions and an outlook with recommendations. As some capacities in a number of emerging economies are beginning to consolidate, the implementation and changes of current practices toward improved performance by implementing LCSM remain insufficient.

Keywords 10YFP Consumer Information Program (CIP) • Decision making • Life cycle assessment • Developing countries • Life cycle management • Life cycle sustainability assessment • Life cycle sustainability management • Sustainability • Sustainable Lifestyles and Education Program • UNEP/SETAC life cycle initiative

Introduction

Access to (elementary) education is a human right and technical and professional education shall be made generally available and equally accessible to all according to article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UN 1948). Education is also a fundamental determinant not only of health, demographic trends and individual income, but also of a country's aggregate level of economic growth (IIASA 2008) and thus provides the most promising route toward sustainable development.

Furthermore, the authors consider that education at all levels – from primary school via university to lifelong learning – is crucial to improving the understanding and minimization of environmental and socio-economic impacts. Thus, further promotion of life cycle sustainability management (LCSM) – which follows a holistic approach for better informed decisions – is paramount.

LCSM is a powerful approach that has been recognized by multinational companies for the last decade. It helps to structure decision-making processes to follow a life cycle perspective in business and industry across an ever-increasing number of organisations in industrialized countries.

In response to the need for improved understanding and technical skills on LCSM, a number of life cycle-focused initiatives worldwide have incorporated capacity-building in their missions.[1] To illustrate this development, it is worth highlighting the work of the UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative. It establishes the strengthening of LCSM/LCA capacities worldwide. Since its creation in 2002, more than 30 training events in about 18 developing countries (Sonnemann et al. 2015) have been organized, not to forget the support of the life cycle management (LCM) capability maturity model (CMM) implementation in developing countries between 2012 and 2013 (Swarr et al. 2015a, b).

In 2014, important developments at the international level include the launch of two global programmes under the 10-Year Framework of Programs (10YFP), which cover consumer information, education and awareness-raising on life cycle-based approaches[2] (10YFP 2015):

• The 10YFP Consumer Information Program (CIP) is defined as a range of tools and systems that seek to encourage consumers for more sustainable choices about goods and services, including their use and end-of-life phases (CIP 2015).

• The Sustainable Lifestyles and Education Program (SLE) seeks

– To develop sustainable ways of living common practice through overall systems change

– To promote demand for and enable use of sustainable infrastructures (e.g. related to transportation)

– To achieve well-being and improve quality of life for all through awarenessraising, education and capacity-building across all sectors of society (SLE 2015)

Capabilities on LCSM have been acquired by professionals in companies in industrialized countries as well as consultants and academics working for these companies. Actors in emerging economies are beginning to develop those capacities as well, supported by training programmes like the CMM implementation in developing countries between 2012 and 2013 (Swarr et al. 2015a, b). While local capacities are now available in the developing world, especially in rapidly growing and emerging economies, the implementation and changes of current practices toward improved performance is still insufficient (Valdivia et al. 2014; Sonnemann et al. 2015). This chapter seeks to present the current conditions for mainstreaming LCSM based on an analysis of available knowledge and infrastructure on life cycle approaches in 18 selected rapidly growing and emerging economies based on four criteria.[3] Furthermore, the chapter aims to discuss the results, propose a framework to develop LCSM capacities and provide conclusions and an outlook with recommendations.

  • [1] The term “capabilities” is used for individuals and “capacities” for organizations as it is more institutional
  • [2] In the context of the 10YFP, life cycle approaches also include life cycle management
  • [3] (a) training activities in place, (b) local LCA studies available, (c) national LCA databases in place, (d.1) an active national network and aspects such as (d.2) size of the network and (d.3) gender balance
 
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