Systèmes Agroalimentaires

Life Cycle Assessment for sustainable food systems


Agri-food systems are major contributors to environmental degradation. At the same time obesity and diet-related diseases is on the rise due to overconsumption of ultra-processed food which is high in saturated fat, salt and sugar.

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a method that is widely used to assess the environmental impact of food items and diets from production to consumption. However, it can be difficult to identify where trade-offs exist between lifecycle-based environmental impacts of food, such as greenhouse gas emissions and water use, and the contribution of different foods to human nutrition. There is no agreed approach for integrating the assessment of nutritional value into the LCA methodology. This is limiting the ability of food system actors and policymakers to develop holistic, multi-dimensional LCAs and make evidence-based decisions that encourage the development of sustainable food systems that deliver healthy diets. 

To respond to this challenge, FAO embarked on an action-research project in May 2021.
The project brought together an international team of thirty LCA and nutrition researchers who developed a state-of-the-art review to improve the environmental and nutritional a Life Cycle Assessment (nLCA) methodology. The group identified the key LCA methodology limitations that are hampering the ability of food system actors to capture and compare the environmental and nutritional impacts of food items. They developed best practice recommendations for an integrated nLCA to measure and compare these impacts and defined future research needs.

A Webinar - planned on 27 October at 9.30 AM (CEST) - will share the results of this project and gather feedback on the applicability of this research to respond to the needs of different stakeholders in advancing their food system transformation agendas.

Key points of discussion: What are the best practices to capture and compare the environmental and nutritional impacts of food items? how these best practices can respond to policy needs and inform national food systems transformative pathways? And what are the future research road map to support policy?

See the Webinar Agenda Here