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Stans Prize 2016 for Carlos Felipe Blanco Rocha

The ‘Stans Prize 2016' (for the best thesis, report or article produced by a CML student) has been awarded to Carlos Felipe Blanco Rocha. Other CML prizes were awarded to Henrik Barmentlo, Arnold Tukker and Coen van der Giesen.

Carlos Felipe Blanco Rocha

Carlos Felipe Blanco Rocha received the Stans Price for his Master Thesis  called: "Evaluating Impacts on Ecosystem Services in LCA - A Model and Application to the Use of Water by the Mining Industry in Northern Chile”. Carlos has done the Master Industrial Ecology.

The Stans Prize is a yearly student incentive award for the best thesis, article or report produced by a CML student. The prizes were presented at the CML New Years Meeting on January 17, 2017.  Carlos has given a short presentation about his Master research by a Skype connection.

Summary of the research of Carlos

Most of the work conducted to date in the practice of Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) has focused on a subset of environmental impact categories that include global warming, ozone depletion and acidification amongst others. Yet, an important gap still exists in exploring and developing the potential of LCA to assess impacts on ecosystem services. This study aims to address this gap by developing a method for assessing these types of impacts in LCA and applying it to a case study that involves the supply of water to mining operations in the north of Chile. The method builds on previous efforts to assess ecosystem services in LCA, and further expands them by incorporating drivers other than land use and land use change, which had been the focus of most of the work conducted so far. It also incorporates socioeconomic aspects of ecosystem services by coupling economic valuation models with the life cycle impact assessment model.

To achieve this, a production system –in this case the supply of water to mining operations in the north of Chile– is modelled as a chain of unit processes. These unit processes are then associated to environmental flows that are represented as transformations of spatial units of ecosystems. These environmental flows (as transformations of ecosystems) are determined during the inventory analysis phase of LCA using simplified models and assuming average parameters for the affected ecosystems and the unit processes involved. The losses of ecosystem services that result from these transformations are then calculated in the impact assessment phase using productivity data and economic valuation methods.

Application of the methodology to assess two different water supply policies for the mining industry in Chile revealed that a policy that relies on both sources –seawater and freshwater - results in a loss of US $56.5M in four ecosystem services: food provision, carbon sequestration, flood protection and tourism. In contrast, the absence of such policy and use of only freshwater as a source would represent a loss of US$58.7M.

The methodology proposed can be applied to life cycle assessments of other products and services by following similar modelling steps. It departs from more conventional LCA models in that an additional modelling step is introduced during the LCA inventory phase, in order to represent environmental inputs and outputs as ecosystem transformations. The exercise also suggests that it may be beneficial from a methodological perspective to use the weighing phase of the LCA framework to perform the economic valuation of the impacts on ecosystem services, rather than doing this as part of the impact assessment phase.

Other CML publication prizes for 2016

During the meeting also the other publication prizes were announced.

Prize winners Coen van der Giesen & Henrik Barmentlo

The Stans award for the best CML scientific publications

is for:

The Stans societal award 2016

goes to:

  • Henrik Barmentlo for their media exposure with the crowdfunding actions with the Living Lab and
  • Arnold Tukker for his work on the Circular Economy