Conference Connection: SETAC Glasgow

ISSST2013 in Cincinnati OH (15-17 May) is scheduled to overlap with the Society of Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) Europe annual meeting in Glasgow, Scotland 12-16 May 2013.  Both conferences will be including parallel sessions and/or working groups on the topic of life cycle assessment (LCA).

Here’s a list of the LCA related special sessions that have been proposed for the SETAC Glasgow program.  (The full program for Glasgow is not available yet.  Neither is the program for ISSST2013).

Name Chairs Description
Building methods for capturing social impacts in the life cycle of products and services Arne Wangel; Catherine Macombe “… reflexions about the problem definition, the system under scrutiny (its nature, its description, its boundaries, its phases), the choice of the impacts to be assessed, the methods to predict impacts, the interpretation of outcomes, and the connexion with results from Environmental LCA”
Exploring the role of Life Cycle Assessment in supporting, steering and evaluating policies David Cockburn “… how LCA can play a major role in the context of green growth strategies and policies… (and) the role of sector/product-specific approaches as a way to foster LCA applications into organisations, and their effective support to the decision making process.”
Increasing the robustness in life cycle impact assessment methods Ralph K. Rosenbaum; Dr Serenella Sala; “… impact characterization frameworks and models showing latest developments in typical and new impact categories, with a specific focus on integrated assessment towards endpoint indicators and environmental sustainability assessment.”
Managing complexity, uncertainty and variability in LCA Mark A. J. Huijbregts; Alessandra Zamagni; Dr. Antonino Marvuglia “… spatial data analysis, economic modelling, mathematical optimization, ecological modelling tools and indicators, including robust methods for uncertainty characterization…. aims to discuss new approaches and proposals for integrating uncertainty analysis into the daily practice, and to debate also on the main hurdles for its implementation.”
Monetisation for weighting and aggregation of risks and impacts to human health and the environment Philipp Preiss; Tomas Ekvall “… methodology of monetisation, interesting cases of application of the method, and, approaches to use monetisation in governance to stimulate learning, debate, and knowledge-based decisions.”
Progress in Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment Alessandra Zamagni; Massimo Pizzol; Dr Serenella Sala  “… discuss the role played by LCA (and related approaches, e.g. LCC, S-LCA) in sustainability assessment against ontological, epistemological and methodological aspects of Sustainability Science.”

Life Cycle Impact Assessment, including characterization, normalization and weighting were big topics of discussion at the SETAC North American meeting in Long Beach California two months ago.  There, several people including Jane Bare, Bruce Vigon, Annie Weisbrod, Olivier Joliet (via speakerphone), several others and I discussed the importance of establishing a research agenda for life-cycle impact assessment that would:

  • improve interpretation of LCA results for decision-making, especially in comparative contexts.
  • improve data availability and quality with regard to characterization factors and normalization references.
  • establish reliable approaches to quantifying the impacts of resource use, such as land and water use.

Partly as a result of the Long Beach discussions, there has been a lot of interest in presenting papers related to LCIA at ISSST2013, as well as continuing the discussions at SETAC Glasgow.

One potential opportunity is to take advantage of the coincidental scheduling by joining the LCIA discussions at the two meetings, given that both SETAC Europe and ISST2013 will be in full conference session on Thursday, 16 May.  It’s likely that the emphasis at the SETAC meeting will be a little different than at ISSST2013.  So a potentially informative approach to coordination would be to schedule parallel working groups in Glasgow and Cincinnati that build on the presentations made there, and then report out to one another via video link late in the day in Glasgow (which would be early in the morning in Cincinnati — the two cities are 5 hours apart on 16 May).

To my knowledge, this type of international working group linkage has never been attempted by the LCA community.  Nonetheless, we could do a little more.  We could strengthen the linkages between the two groups using social media — most notably Twitter (such as with a Tweet roll on the ISSST2013 website) and

The purpose of joining the groups would be to synthesize their respective parallel sessions into a comprehensive research agenda for Life Cycle Impact Assessment.  Ultimately, this effort could result in an article for publication in the International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment authored by the participants.

To pull this off, we’ll need to coordinate with the organizers of SETAC Glasgow.  In Long Beach we spoke with Olivier Joliet via speaker phone.  He was planning on coordinating LCIA efforts in Glasgow, and so he might be the right person to work with.   Leave a reply below if you’d like to contribute ideas or effort to making it happen.

Here’s another potential conference connection, with the International Congress on Sustainability Science. From Arnim Wiek:

ICSS 2012: Sustainability Science in Action
The 3rd International Conference on Sustainability Science

Dear Colleague,

Thank you for your interest in, and support of, ICSS 2012. On behalf of the Conference Chairs and our International Steering Board, I would like to announce that the ICSS 2012 Conference Report is available for download on the homepage of the conference website.

We have also provided video of our keynotes, case presentations, and case panels to enrich your memory of the proceedings, or in case you were unable to join us. We hope that the report and videos serve to inspire and inform future research and practice in the field of sustainability science.

If you have any questions, please contact our ICSS 2012 Conference Director, John Harlow at

Best regards,


Arnim Wiek, ICSS 2012 Conference Co-Chair

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