Social Life Cycle Assessment

This course covers both the theory and practice of social LCA. It introduces the theory and background, the reasons for incorporating social impacts into life cycle assessment, as well as the difficulties related to their evaluation.

The course

Subject:

This course covers both the theory and practice of social LCA. It introduces the theory and background, the reasons for incorporating social impacts into life cycle assessment, as well as the difficulties related to their evaluation. A background to important social issues will be given, along with an examination of the UNEP-SETAC S-LCA Guidelines and ISO 26000 on Social Responsibility. Social impact categories such as inequality, absolute poverty, education, trade barriers, rent seeking and violence will be investigated in detail, using the most recent data sources for each impact category, with discussions on the necessary precautions needed for their application and interpretation. The social impact categories will be placed in an overall taxonomy for impact assessment that allows integration with biophysical LCA. The course includes practical application of the most recent impact assessment methods, including fully quantitative methods for social footprinting. Case studies will be used to identify hotspots, and explore the options and justification for aggregating data across impact categories. The concept of Creating Shared Value (CSV) will also be introduced and applied in exercises. An introduction will also be given to qualitative methods to identify the motivations, culture, power relations, and change potentials that are not captured by the more quantitative methods.

Form and academic recognition:

Form: 24 hours of face-to-face lectures and exercises distributed in 3 full days
Academic recognition: 2 ECTS-point including pre-course reading

Learning outcomes:

Knowledge of the background and need for Social LCA and the relation to biophysical LCA. Comprehension of the UNEP-SETAC guidelines for S-LCA. Ability to select relevant impact categories, subcategories and characterization models. Ability to identify data sources and organise data collection. Ability to identify social and environmental hotspots.

Participant prerequisites:

Masters degree or equivalent. Must bring own laptop computer. A good understanding and/or experience with life cycle assessment is an asset.