Title: Pollinators in Life Cycle Assessment: towards a framework for impact assessment
Citation: JOURNAL OF CLEANER PRODUCTION vol. 140 no. part 2 p. 525-536
Publication Year: 2017
JRC N°: JRC100527
ISSN: 0959-6526
URI: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959652616002353
DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.02.058
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: Human activities are threatening biodiversity at an unprecedented scale and pace, thus potentially affecting also the provision of critical ecosystem services, including insect pollination. Insect pollinators play an essential functional role in terrestrial ecosystems, supporting ecological stability and food security worldwide. Therefore, assessing impact on pollinators is fundamental in any effort aiming at enhancing the environmental sustainability of human production and consumption, especially in the agri-food supply chains. Different drivers are leading to pollinator populations’ declines. Improving a supply-chain oriented assessment of the occurrence of pressure and impacts on pollinators is needed. However, current methodologies assessing impact along supply chains, such as life cycle assessment (LCA), miss to assess impact on pollinators. In fact, none of the existing life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) models effectively accounts for pollinators. Some LCIA models have mentioned pollination, but none has presented key drivers of impact and a proposal for integrating pollinators as target group for biodiversity protection within an LCIA framework. In order to devise a pathway towards the inclusion of impact on pollinators in LCIA, we conducted a literature review of environmental and anthropogenic pressures acting on insect pollinators, potentially threatening pollination services. Based on the evidence in literature, we identified and described eight potential impact drivers, primarily deriving from industrial development and intensive agricultural practice: 1) intensified land use as a result of uncontrolled expansion of urban areas and modern agricultural practices; 2) use of pesticides; 3) presence of invasive alien plants; 4) competition with invasive alien pollinator species; 5) global and local climate change; 6) spread of pests and pathogens; 7) electro-magnetic pollution and 8) genetically modified crops. To account for these drivers in LCIA, there are specific modeling needs. Hence, the current study provide recommendation on how future research should be oriented to improve the current models and how novel indicators should be developed in order to cover the existing conceptual and methodological gaps.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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