Chaires industrielles - Chaires industrielles

Environmental Lifecycle and Sustainability Assessment : a PAthway to Competitiveness through social & ecological Transition – ELSA-PACT

Submission summary

The ELSA-PACT Chair is proposed in the context of the ecological and social transition, considered essential by all policies to limit the adverse effects of human activities on the environment and societies. This transition can only occur if appropriate and harmonized tools for assessing the environmental and social (E&S) performance are available: "No measurement, no improvement!" Kelvin said. Companies that initiated this E&S transition strategy are calling for a pre-competitive research to develop methods for assessing E & S performances and prepare markets to welcome products or services with reduced E&S footprints; such a research enable companies to better eco-design; it avoids market distortions thanks to assessment methods –and outputs- harmonization; it allows companies to build scientifically based evidence of the E&S performance of their tenders / products, helping them conquer new markets, especially at export, and therefore to increase their competitiveness.

This is the main objective of the ELSA-PACT chair, supported by IRSTEA, which chooses to develop E&S assessment methods based on lifecycle assessment (LCA) method, ie a standardized method which is currently unanimously recognized as the most successful for evaluating product environmental performances. ELSA-PACT focuses on the "natural resource management" economic sectors and first a) water and waste management / treatment and b) food and agricultural production. In tight collaboration with companies of these sectors (SUEZ ENVIRONMENT, SCP, BRL, VAL D'ORBIEU UCCOAR) and a LCA consultancy office (EVEA), ELSA-PACT therefore focuses on 1) improving methods of environmental assessment - and in particular refining the impact calculation phase, in order to take into account the specificities of these sectors (ie strong interactions between the production and the natural environment, complexity of the phenomena, climate / soil variability etc.) by research training (PhD thesis and post-doc), 2) streamlining them in order to make their use easier in the industry, without reducing their level of scientific rigour, 3) developing methods of social LCA, which are now almost inexistent, on the same frame as Environmental LCA, to quantify social impacts (research training), and 4) training employees of companies, their customers and stakeholders, as well as students by implementing various teaching methods (research training, face-to-face, immersion, workshops, research schools, conferences given by companies, online international courses), 5) widely disseminating these methods and results, not only in the scientific community (conferences, publications, creation of a scientific association), but also to the deciders (politicians, financial sponsors ...) via seminars with an emphasis on the inevitable E & S transition and necessity to prepare our companies to it and finally by introducing these methods in the international economic sphere through active participation in international standardization groups.

To strengthen and sustain the chair which plans at least 7 PhD thesis, 3 post-doc students and 8 master students, IRSTEA relies on the ELSA research pole, which it co-founded with INRA, CIRAD, Montpellier Supagro and ENSMA and will open a position for recruiting the chair holder. In line with ELSA strategy, ELSA-PACT will strive to create attractive conditions for 1) foreign scientists - via scientific excellence and dynamism- and 2) for industries, by providing special efforts to integrate other companies - with the help of clusters, networks and transfer cells - to extend as much as possible the dissemination of these tools in the socio-economic sphere.

Project coordination

Véronique BELLON MAUREL (Institut National de Recherche en Sciences et Technologies pour l'Environnement et l'Agriculture)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


IRSTEA Institut National de Recherche en Sciences et Technologies pour l'Environnement et l'Agriculture

Help of the ANR 720,723 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: November 2013 - 48 Months

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