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UNEP Social LCA and ISO 26000

Life Cycle Initiative

UNEP and SETAC have worked together through the UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative to develop these guidelines from 2004 till 2009.

A key objective of the UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative is to help extend life cycle assessment (LCA) methods and practices: Social and socio-economic LCA guidelines complementing environmental LCA and Life Cycle Costing, contributing to the full assessment of goods and services within the context of sustainable development.

UNEP Guidelines for Social Life Cycle Assessment of Products

  • This is the first international voluntary guidance document to assess social impacts along the life cycle of products in a global context. It provides an analysis and description of the current practice of social Life Cycle Assessment (S-LCA) as well as a methodology and suggests social impact categories linked to key stakeholders groups such as workers, consumers and local communities.
  • This publication will help decision makers to better understand and track the implications of the consumption and production of products over their life cycle in terms of impacts on the quality of work and life of people in both developed and developing economies.

See also: and

ISO 26000 connection

These Guidelines proposes a two-fold classification of social impacts: by stakeholder categories and impact categories. A set of subcategories includes social and socio-economic issues of concerns.

These issues are being inspired by the ISO 26000 social responsibility issues that were already known in 2008 and beginning of 2009.



The Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) is a professional society in the form of a non-forprofit association, established to promote the use of a multidisciplinary approach to solving problems of the impact of chemicals and technology on the environment. Among other things, SETAC has taken a leading role in the development of Life Cycle Management (LCM) and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).

See also:

About UNEP

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), established in 1972, is the voice for the environment within the United Nations system. See:

UNEP work encompasses also “Developing international and national environmental instruments”

Experts from the UNEP Division of Technology, Industry and Economics (DTIE) were involved in the drafting.

What is a Social LCA?

A social and socio-economic Life Cycle Assessment (S-LCA) is a social impact (and potential impact) assessment technique that aims to assess the social and socio-economic aspects of products and their potential positive and negative impacts along their life cycle encompassing extraction and processing of raw materials; manufacturing; distribution; use; re-use; maintenance; recycling; and final disposal. S-LCA complements Environmental-LCA (E-LCA) with social and socio-economic aspects. It can either be applied on its own or in combination with E-LCA.


UNEP Social LCA download

UNEP Social LCA download

Download here the "UNEP Guidelines for Social Life Cycle Assessment of Products"

Bernard Mazijn (former chair of the UNEP/SETAC LCI Task Force, co-editor and co-ordinator of the Social LC Alliance (

“Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment, taking into account social and socio-economic criteria, is the tool for exercising due diligence within the context of ISO 26000.”