Since June 2020, users are able to explore the majority of globally available LCA datasets via GLAD.

The Global LCA Data Access network

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) data allow policymakers to develop sound policies towards sustainable consumption and production, and industries can base their innovation and strategic sustainability decisions on more robust information. Enhanced data accessibility and interoperability benefits the whole life cycle community and enables Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to be used widely. 

The “Global LCA Data Access” network (GLAD) aims to achieve better data accessibility and interoperability. The network is comprised of independently-operated LCA databases (nodes), providing users with an interface to find and access life cycle inventory datasets from different providers, delivered in the user’s preferred format. GLAD thus supports life cycle assessment through easier access to data sources around the world.

One of the main functionalities of GLAD is the conversion function which allows users to convert a dataset from its native format in the source database (node) into another format convenient for the user. This functionality is based on key metadata descriptors, which are required from datasets to be connected to GLAD in order to allow for interoperability between them, as well as a global mapping of elementary flows’ nomenclature.

The UN Environment Programme serves as the Secretariat of the GLAD network via the Life Cycle Initiative, which hosts GLAD. The governance of GLAD is ultimately controlled by the Steering Committee of the Life Cycle Initiative, which is technically advised by the Technical Management Group of GLAD.

Historically, fourteen governments were involved in the conception and development of GLAD:

Dataset providers around the world are invited to express their interest in becoming a node of GLAD.


The Global LCA Data Access network is a coalition of dataset providers (nodes), providing access to consult their datasets through GLAD to users worldwide. The purpose of GLAD is to provide a global network comprised of independently-operated and interoperable LCA databases that connects multiple data sources to support life cycle assessment in a way that facilitates sustainability-related decisions. The following principles provide guidance in terms of usage of datasets in GLAD (also referred to as the Network) and establishing their interoperability.

Guiding Principles for the GLAD network:

  • The network is open. That is, datasets are accessible and extendable to all interested users. The network includes data from a variety of sources in different formats. In order to make the data more usable to users and interoperable, the data formats are encouraged to meet the minimum requirements for interoperability (defined in terms of flow nomenclature and metadata descriptors). Direct access is required to the metadata allowing the assessment of fitness for purpose by the user, whereas access to the datasets themselves may be subject to restrictions (e.g. available for a fee, or only for authorized and registered users); any restrictions of access to parts of the network are to be made transparent.
  • Inclusiveness: All nodes willing to join the Network (private, public, commercial and non-commercial) can join the Network, provided that their datasets meet the minimum requirements for interoperability (refer to Table 1 – proposed metadata descriptors). The requirements are the same for all nodes. 
  • Participation in the network is voluntary
  • The Network provides access to datasets through a central user interface to facilitate datasets search by Users, with distributed storage within the Nodes. 
  • Node owners may choose to provide the datasets in more than one language. English versions of datasets are required. 
  • The Network facilitates the decision on best available datasets by allowing access to metadata of datasets connected in the Network; the decision on most adequate / fit for purpose dataset is left to the User.
  • Datasets For Free, for restricted users, or For a Fee: The Network favours the sharing of datasets that are provided for free to the Users. However, nodes may also decide to charge for the acquisition of specific datasets in their database, or for all of them, or to allow the access only to specific Users, giving the rights for download to specific registered profiles.
  • The same principles apply for both commercial and non-commercial nodes.

Launch of GLAD

The official launch took place on 11th June 2020, when over 300 LCA practitioners, node owners, and policymakers from around the globe joined the online event to celebrate the launch with already over 80,000 datasets indexed in GLAD. The recording below presents the overview of the GLAD, a demo, a case study of using GLAD in practice, perspectives from users, nodes, database providers, and much more:

Consult the presentations here [.ppt 58MB]

Do you still have questions about GLAD?

Check a series of questions and answers about GLAD here


The development of GLAD was made possible with the contributions of many participating governments, most notably (in alphabetical order): Brazil, Germany, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, USA and the European Commission.

In addition, the generous in-kind contributions of many actors from the private sector (LCA data providers, software developers and other experts) has been instrumental in developing GLAD. The URL domain of GLAD was kindly contributed by Professor Sangwon Suh, Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California, Santa Barbara.