12th International LCA Food Conference successfully held online

Virtual format with more than 350 participants

The LCA Food is a series of conferences and a worldwide forum for the life cycle assessment of agricultural and food systems. The conference is held every two years. Due to the coronavirus, the event was not held in Berlin as planned, but was transformed into a virtual format. The associated challenges could be successfully implemented in a new conference concept which was well accepted by over 350 participants from all over the world. Under the title "towards sustainable agri-food system", the focus was on the exchange of new scientific findings, ideas and options for more sustainable agricultural and food systems. 

In addition to the DIL German Institute of Food Technologies, the conference was organized this year by Corsus - corporate sustainability GmbH, the Centre for Sustainable Management (ZNU) and thinkstep. The management was in the hands of Dr. Sergiy Smetana (DIL), with the support of Dr. Ulrike Eberle (Corsus and ZNU) and Dr. Ulrike Bos (thinkstep). The four organizations joined forces to provide an LCAFood2020 platform where universities, research institutes, the industry and government would work together to reduce the environmental impacts of current agri-food systems and to develop sustainable options for the future.

The LCA Food 2020 was officially opened by Dr. Volker Heinz (DIL Executive Board) on October 13 at 4 pm. Before the event started with a panel discussion on the topic "The future of life cycle assessment and sustainable food", Prof. Dr. Ludwig Theuvsen, State Secretary in the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection of Lower Saxony, held a welcome speech on behalf of the government of Lower Saxony. The subsequent, exciting live discussion was moderated by Dr. Anke Butscher (corsus). Prof. Dr. Ludwig Theuvsen (State of Lower Saxony), Dr. Volker Heinz (DIL), Dr. Grace Douglas (NASA), Dr. Christian Schultze-Wolters (IBM), Dr. Peter Saling (BASF), Christoph Heinrich (WWF) and Llorenç Milà i Canals (United Nations) participated in the lively discussion. 

In addition to the many opportunities offered by new technologies to produce more sustainable food, the focus lay on the education towards a more conscious society. Furthermore, the sustainability of the food sector must be examined holistically and not be limited to individual sub-sectors. "If we don't change quickly in a planned way, we will have to change our system very quickly in an unplanned way," Llorenç Milà i Canals emphasized the importance of the activities in life cycle assessment. The need for research in this area remains very high, especially when it comes to making our food system sustainable and efficient. This requires the development of technologies that can produce healthy, safe and tasty food for the growing world population. To this end, investments in research and development must be intensified so that new solutions can be implemented as quickly as possible to ensure progress in the food industry.

Interactive platform for participants

The online platform, developed by the organisers in cooperation with mcc Agentur für Kommunikation GmbH from Berlin and maze GmbH from Osnabrück, offered great opportunities for networking in the world of life cycle assessment, and the chat function allowed each speaker to be contacted for a direct dialogue or to be called via video telephony. In addition, the moderated discussion forums allowed for a lively exchange with the oral and poster presenters, which is often neglected at normal conferences. And everything was recorded so that it remains available. 

With more than 350 active participants, 200 lectures and poster presentations, more than 1000 comments on the lectures, more than 5000 video views, more than 2000 chat messages and more than 30.000 page views, the LCA Food 2020 was a virtual success. In addition, the online format helped to avoid around 500 tonnes of greenhouse gases normally caused by traveling.

The recordings of the exciting panel discussion as well as all recorded discussions, oral and poster presentations are available to all registered participants until the end of November 2020. It is still possible to register and access the contents of the LCA Food 2020. 

The next LCA Food will take place in Peru in 2022 and is organised by the Peruvian LCA Network (PECLAN) and the Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru under the direction of Dr. Ian Vázquez-Rowe.