Global LCA Data Access

UNEP-GLAD (Life Cycle Initiative)


Enhanced data accessibility and interoperability are benefits for the whole life cycle community and affect the way in which LCA goes mainstream, in support of Sustainable Consumption and Production policies, as well as industrial innovation.

The "Global LCA Data Access" network (GLAD) aims to achieve better data accessibility and interoperability. The network will be comprised of independently-operated LCA databases (nodes), providing users with an interface to find and access life cycle inventory datasets from different providers.

One of the main functionalities of GLAD will be the conversion function which will allow 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 that will be 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. UN Environment serves as the Secretariat of the GLAD network, with representatives from 14 governments in the Steering Committee (SC). Among those representatives, the European Commission is represented by DG ENV, at the SC level, and by JRC in the technical support and development (see the figure below). The ILCD format , officially used in few EC policies, is one of the main formats allowed in the GLAD framework

The technical developments around the GLAD platform covers the following areas:

    "Network Architecture and Technology", which defined the specifications of the IT environment required for the network;

    "Nomenclature", delivering a global elementary flow mapping file for Life Cycle Inventory datasets;

    "Metadata descriptors", delivering a basic list of metadata descriptors to facilitate interoperability and the assessment of "fitness for purpose" by users, as well as advanced recommendations on how interoperability and assessment of fitness for purpose can be enhanced in the future. The final report of the working group can be accessed here .

Data from ELCD database are now part of the data available through GLAD.The next step is to allow the EF data to be connected to the GLAD Network.

Go to the UNEP-GLAD project page

Involvement of the JRC in GLAD’s activities

The JRC is involved in several technical development, in preparation and maintenance of nomenclature mapping files, providing and checking meta-data and format specifications, supporting the Steering Committee on behalf of DG ENV and adapting internal (EC) software to deal with GLAD platform.


JRC is actively involved in GLAD Working Group on Nomenclature, which is a technical working group supporting the Life Cycle Initiative for GLAD aimed at developing a common system to map the nomenclature lists for elementary flows (EFs) between databases connected to GLAD.

The databases connected to GLAD are also referred to as "nodes". In this regard, the GLAD Working Group on Nomenclature (WG1) maintains a dedicated GitHub repository ( for elementary flow lists, mapping files, and other resources pertinent to the Global LCA Data Access (GLAD) network initiative and data portal.

Among these resources, the GLAD Mapper is an ad-hoc tool developed by the JRC to assist in the creation of mapping files. Two main types of matches are performed by the tool, i) "automatic matches" executed by using the pieces of information of CAS number, flowable name, list of synonyms, secondary CAS as reported in the source and target flow lists) and ii)"manual matches" executed by interpreting the instructions as reported in the "mapping criteria" file.

The JRC MAPPER tool is freely available for users and it is supported by a guidance document.