Working Group on Global Impact Assessment

There are two prerequisites for correct impact assessment for a footprint: The completeness of the data on the human activities that contribute to each of the impacts, and correct mathematical descriptions of the impact pathways (cause-effect chains) from these contributions (e.g. CO2-emissions) to the final impacts (e.g. lost biodiversity from climate changes).

This Working Group has the task to maintain the impact assessment datasets of the BONSAI database, which describe the impact pathways in the form of mathematical relations between contributors and final impacts. It is also an important task to ensure that these datasets link correctly to all the contributing substances or other exchanges from the human activity datasets of the BONSAI database.

Initially, the Working Group will ensure a complete coverage of all known causes for loss of natural and manmade resources, loss of ecosystem health, and loss of human well-being. This will be done by using data from existing impact assessment methods and adding data on any missing impact pathways, even when these have to be based on very rough cause-effect relationships, in accordance with the precautionary principle. Data on time delays between cause and effect will be included. For each impact pathway, the Working Group will ensure the completeness of the data on the contributing substances or other exchanges from the human activity datasets. If necessary, known contributions that cannot currently be assigned to any specific human activities will be covered by adding “unknown activity” datasets to the BONSAI database. Impact pathways include models for endpoint assessment, considering global and inter-generational equity and competing interests, values and worldviews.

An important task of the Working Group is to ensure that uncertainties are recorded for all impact assessment datasets, so that this can be used in an overall assessment of the uncertainty on the calculated results, and to prioritise further data collection and development of improved impact pathway modelling.

The working group is composed of experts with cross-disciplinary impact assessment knowledge, later to be supplemented by domain experts for each impact pathway. The working group cooperates with existing impact assessment communities and working groups, such as the flagship project of the UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative.

Files from the working group

On the relation between the work plans on LCIA of BONSAI and UNEP/SETAC (2015-01-18, PDF)
Minutes from first meeting (2015-03-30, PDF)
Minutes from second meeting (2015-05-08, PDF)
Minutes from third meeting (2015-12-03, PDF)