The distinctive recognition of culture within LCSA: realising the quadruple bottom line

  • Stefania Pizzirani
  • Sarah J. McLaren
  • Margaret E. Forster
  • Pia Pohatu
  • Tina Tangi Whaiora Porou
  • Tui Aroha Warmenhoven



Cultural indicators, although present in S-LCA subcategories, are fairly limited and are not compulsory; performing an S-LCA does not guarantee the inclusion of cultural values. This paper explores the potential to distinctly represent and include cultural aspects within Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment (LCSA) (alongside economic, social and environmental aspects). As such, it demonstrates LCSA’s capability to communicate results along a quadruple bottom line.


A participatory LCSA case study was undertaken using a mixed methods approach. Research was carried out working in close collaboration with three key members of an indigenous community in New Zealand—the Māori tribe of Ngāti Porou. A series of semi-structured interviews with the three participants was undertaken in order to investigate alternative forestry options for Ngāti Porou land. The research involved (1) understanding the decision-making process of Ngāti Porou, (2) recognising Ngāti Porou aspirations and goals, (3) determining a range of forestry land use and product options to be reviewed within the LCSA case study, (4) selection of meaningful (to Ngāti Porou) economic, social and environmental indicators, (5) developing a bespoke cultural indicator and (6) collaboratively reviewing and discussing the results.

Results and discussion

The results of the participatory LCSA represented culture in two ways. Firstly, a bespoke cultural indicator (Cultural Indicator Matrix) was created to distinctly represent culture in LCSA. The indicator subjectively measures the perceived impact that a forestry process or product has upon a range of Ngāti Porou aspirations, and the results can be viewed alongside other LCSA indicators. Secondly, the participatory research approach made the LCSA process more culturally-inclusive. Overall, the results of the culturally-inclusive LCSA gave the participants ‘validation’ and ‘direction’ and justified their desire to pursue alternative forestry options for their land.


This first use of the Cultural Indicator Matrix was experienced by the participants as an effective mechanism for gathering community-based impressions of how forestry life cycle processes affect their cultural aspirations. They felt the participatory aspect was important, and considered that the ongoing communication between themselves and the LCSA practitioner provided them with more control, access to information and understanding of the LCSA process and led to higher acceptance of the final results. Thus, this research suggests that there is a place for culture in LCSA, and that distinctive representation of culture (separately from S-LCA) may be beneficial, particularly if the end-users have explicit cultural needs or concerns.


Culture LCSA Quadruple bottom line 



This research has been carried out with the financial support of Scion, Massey University, and the New Zealand Life Cycle Management Centre.

The authors are grateful and appreciative for the guidance provided by Dr. Tim Payn and Dr. Jeff Seadon. In addition, the comments and suggestions from the reviewers have been invaluable.

Compliance with ethical standards

This research involved engagement with three Māori (Ngāti Porou) participants. A full human ethics application was submitted to and approved by the Massey University Human Ethics Committee (Southern B application, 13-58).


  1. Anderson K, Gale F (1992) Introduction. In: Anderson K, Gale F (eds) Inventing places: studies in cultural geography. Longman Cheshire, Melbourne, pp. 1–14Google Scholar
  2. Axelsson R, Angelstam P, Degerman E, Teitelbaum S, Andersson K, Elbakidze M, Drotz MK (2013) Social and cultural sustainability: criteria, indicators, verifier variables for measurement and maps for visualization to support planning. Ambio 42(2):215–228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Basit T (2003) Manual or electronic? The role of coding in qualitative data analysis. Educ Res 45(2):143–154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baumann H, Cowell SJ (1999) An evaluative framework for conceptual and analytical approaches used in environmental management. Green Manage Int 26:109–122Google Scholar
  5. Benoît C, Norris GA, Valdivia S, Ciroth A, Moberg A, Bos U, Beck T (2010) The guidelines for social life cycle assessment of products: just in time! Int J Life Cycle Assess 15(2):156–163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bras-Klapwijk RM (2003) Procedures and tools for generating and selecting alternatives in LCA. Int J Life Cycle Assess 8(5):266–272CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bryson JM (2004) What to do when stakeholders matter: stakeholder identification and analysis techniques. Public. Manag Rev 6(1):21–53Google Scholar
  8. Ciroth A, Finkbeiner M, Hildenbrand J, Klöpffer W, Mazijn B, Prakash S, Vickery-Niederman G (2011) Towards a life cycle sustainability assessment: making informed choices on products. Retrieved from Nairobi, KenyaGoogle Scholar
  9. Clift R (2014) Social life cycle assessment: What are we trying to do? Paper presented at the International Seminar in Social LCA, MontpellierGoogle Scholar
  10. Creswell JW (2009) Research design: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches, 3rd edn. SAGE Publications Ltd, Thousand OaksGoogle Scholar
  11. De Luca AI, Iofrida N, Strano A, Falcone G, Gulisano G (2015) Social life cycle assessment and participatory approaches: a methodological proposal applied to citrus farming in southern Italy. Integr Environ Assess Manag 11(3):383–396CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Department of Internal Affairs (2002) Local Government Act 2002. (No 84). Wellington, New Zealand: New Zealand GovernmentGoogle Scholar
  13. Dessein J, Soini K, Fairclough G, Horlings L (eds) (2015) Culture in, for and as sustainable development. Conclusions from the COST action IS1007 investigating cultural sustainability. University of Jyväskylä, JyväskyläGoogle Scholar
  14. Dreyer L, Hauschild M, Schierbeck J (2006) A framework for social life cycle impact assessment. Int J Life Cycle Assess 11(2):88–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Duncker PH, Spiecker H, Tojic K (2007) Definition of forest management alternatives. Retrieved from Frieburg, Germany:
  16. EFORWOOD (2007) EFORWOOD: Sustainability impact assessment of the forestry-wood chain. Retrieved from
  17. Ekener-Petersen E, Finnveden G (2013) Potential hotspots identified by social LCA—part 1: a case study of a laptop computer. Int J Life Cycle Assess 18:127–143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Finnveden G, Moberg A (2005) Environmental systems analysis tools—an overview. J Clean Prod 13(12):1165–1173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Groenfeldt D (2003) The future of indigenous values: cultural relativism in the face of economic development. Futures 35(9):917–929CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Guinée JB (2016) Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment: What Is It and What Are Its Challenges? In R. Clift & A. Druckman (Eds.), Taking Stock of Industrial Ecology, Springer, pp 45–68Google Scholar
  21. Guinée JB, Heijungs R, Huppes G, Zamagni A, Masoni P, Buonamici R, Rydberg T (2011) Life cycle assessment: past, present, and future. Environ Sci Technol 45(1):90–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Harmsworth G (2011) Mäori perspectives on the science and innovation system. New Zeal Sci Rev 68(1):45–48Google Scholar
  23. Harmsworth G, Warmenhoven TA, Pohatu P, Page M (2002) Waiapu catchment report: Maori community goals for enhancing ecosystem health (Landcare Research Report No.: LC 0102/100). Retrieved from Palmerston North, New ZealandGoogle Scholar
  24. Hawkes J (2001) The fourth pillar of sustainability: culture's essential role in public planning. Common Ground Publishing Pty Ltd., VictoriaGoogle Scholar
  25. Hodges W (1994) Maori conservation ethic: a Ngati Kahungunu perspective. Retrieved from WellingtonGoogle Scholar
  26. Khan R (2012) A mauri-model analysis of remediation methods of industrial waste from the Tasman pulp and paper mill in Kawerau, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand. University of Auckland. Auckland, New Zealand. Retrieved from
  27. Klöpffer W (2008) Life cycle sustainability assessment of products. Int J Life Cycle Assess 13(2):89–95CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lindner M, Werhahn-Mees W, Suominen T, Vötter D, Zudin S, Pekkanen M, Brüchert F (2012) Conducting sustainability impact assessments of forestry-wood chains: examples of ToSIA applications. Eur J Forest Res 131(1):21–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Llobera JR (2003) An invitation to anthropology: the structure, evolution and cultural identity of human societies. Berghahn Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  30. Marsden M (2003) In: Charles TA (ed) The woven universe: selected writings of rev. Māori Marsden. Estate of Rev. Māori Marsden, OtakiGoogle Scholar
  31. Marsden M, Henare TA (1992) Kaitiakitanga: a definitive introduction to the holistic world view of the Maori. Ministry for the Environment, WellingtonGoogle Scholar
  32. Martínez-Blanco J, Lehmann A, Muñoz P, Antón A, Traverso M, Rieradevall J, Finkbeiner M (2014) Application challenges for the social life cycle assessment of fertilizers within life cycle sustainability assessment. J Clean Prod 69:34–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Mathe S (2014) Integrating participatory approaches into social life cycle assessment: the SLCA participatory approach. Int J Life Cycle Assess 19(8):1506–1514CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. McGavock ZC, Moewaka-Barnes H, McCreanor T (2012) Maori and pain: a literature review. AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Scholarship 8(2):164–175Google Scholar
  35. Morgan KB (2004) A Tangata Whenua Perspective on Sustainability using the Mauri Model: towards decision making balance with regard to our social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being. Paper presented at the International Conference on Sustainability Engineering and Science, Auckland, New ZealandGoogle Scholar
  36. Morgan TKKB, Sardelic DN, Waretini AF (2012) The three gorges project: how sustainable? J Hydrol 460–461:1–12Google Scholar
  37. Muthu SS (2015) Social life cycle assessment: an insight. Springer, Hong KongCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. New Zealand Conservation Authority (1997) Maori customary use of native birds, plants and other traditional materials. Retrieved from Wellington, New ZealandGoogle Scholar
  39. New Zealand Government (1991) Resource management act. (no 69). Ministry for the Environment, WellingtonGoogle Scholar
  40. Parkner T, Page M, Marden M, Marutani T (2007) Gully systems under undisturbed indigenous forest, East Coast region, New Zealand. Geomorphology 84:241–253CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Patterson J (2006) Maori environmental virtues. In: Koggel CM (ed) Moral issues in global perspective, vol 3, 2nd edn. Broadview Press, Ontario, pp. 283–292Google Scholar
  42. Peacock BC (2011). A GIS-Based Habitat Restoration and Preservation Prioritization Tool Geospatially Integrating Hydrological, Ecological, Pollution, Economic, Social and Cultural Considerations. Paper presented at the The National Conference On Undergraduate Research (NCUR), Ithaca, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  43. Pizzirani S (2016) A culturally-focussed life cycle sustainability assessment: Analysis of forestry value chain options with Māori land owners (submitted). (PhD), Massey University, Palmerston North, New ZealandGoogle Scholar
  44. Pizzirani S, McLaren SJ, Seadon JK (2014) Is there a place for culture in life cycle sustainability assessment? Int J Life Cycle Assess 19(6):1316–1330CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Platia O (2012) Using the Mauri Model to Assess the Impact of the Rena Grounding on the Mauri of the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand. Civil and Environmental Engineering. Lafayette College. Easton, PA, United States. Retrieved from
  46. Ramirez PKS, Petti L, Haberland NT, Ugaya CML (2014) Subcategory assessment method for social life cycle assessment. Part 1: methodological framework. Int J Life Cycle Assess 19(8):1515–1523CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Reed MS (2008) Stakeholder participation for environmental management: a literature review. Biol Conserv 141(10):2417–2431CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Roberts M, Norman W, Minhinnick N, Wihongi D, Kirkwood C (1995) Kaitaikitanga: Maori perspectives on conservation. Pac Conserv Biol 2:7–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Sala S, Farioli F, Zamagni A (2013a) Life cycle sustainability assessment in the context of sustainability science progress (part 2. Int J Life Cycle Assess 18(9):1686–1697CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Sala S, Farioli F, Zamagni A (2013b) Progress in sustainability science: lessons learnt from current methodologies for sustainability assessment: part 1. IntJ Life Cycle Assess 18(9):1653–1672CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Scion (2012) Waiapu river catchment study - final report. Retrieved from Rotorua, New ZealandGoogle Scholar
  52. Simon KH (2003) Searching for synergy: Maori/indigenous and scientific conservatory values—the affinity proposition. He Puna korero. Journal of Maori and Pacific Development 4(1):44–58Google Scholar
  53. Stake RE (1995) The art of case study research. Sage, Thousand OaksGoogle Scholar
  54. Statistics New Zealand (2013) Census QuickStats about Māori. Retrieved from Wellington, New Zealand:
  55. Thabrew L, Wiek A, Ries R (2009) Environmental decision making in multi-stakeholder contexts: applicability of life cycle thinking in development planning and implementation. J Clean Prod 17(1):67–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Traverso M, Finkbeiner M, Jørgensen A, Schneider L (2012) Life cycle sustainability dashboard. J Ind Ecol 16(5):680–688CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. UNEP & SETAC (2009) Guidelines for social life cycle assessment of products. Retrieved from Belgium:
  58. UNEP and SETAC (2010) Methodological sheets of sub-categories of impact for a social LCA (S-LCA). Retrieved from Nairobi, KenyaGoogle Scholar
  59. UNESCO (2000) World Culture Report 2000: Cultural diversity, conflict and pluralism. Retrieved from Paris, FranceGoogle Scholar
  60. UNESCO Sector for Culture (2001) Culture throughout the project cycle. In: Matarosso F (ed) Recognising culture: a series of briefing papers on culture and development. Comedia, the Department of Canadian Heritage and UNESCO, London, pp. 77–87Google Scholar
  61. Walker R (1990) Ka whawhai tonu matou: struggle without end. Penguin Books, AucklandGoogle Scholar
  62. Walker S (2015) Designing sustainability: making radical changes in a material world. Routledge, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  63. Walters F, Takamura J (2015) The decolonized quadruple bottom line: a framework for developing indigenous innovation. Wicazo sa review 30(2):77–99CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Warmenhoven TA, Barnard T, Pohatu P, Garrett L, Porou T, Fitzgerald G, Ruru W (2014) Climate change and community resilience in the waiapu catchment. Retrieved from Wellington, New ZealandGoogle Scholar
  65. Weaver P, Jansen L, van Grootveld G, van Spiegel E, Vergragt P (2000) Sustainable technology development. Greenleaf Publishing Limited, SheffieldGoogle Scholar
  66. Welsh E (2002). Dealing with Data: Using NVivo in the Qualitative Data Analysis Process. 3(2). Retrieved from
  67. Wrisberg N, Udo de Haes HA, Triebswetter U, Eder P, Clift R (eds) (2002) Analytical tools for environmental design and management in a systems perspective: the combined use of analytical tools, vol 10. Kluwer Academic Publishers, DordrechtGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ScionRotoruaNew Zealand
  2. 2.Massey UniversityPalmerston NorthNew Zealand
  3. 3.New Zealand Life Cycle Management CentreMassey UniversityPalmerston NorthNew Zealand
  4. 4.He Oranga mo Nga Uri Tuku Iho TrustWellingtonNew Zealand
  5. 5.Ngāti PorouRuatoriaNew Zealand
  6. 6.Ngāti TuwharetoaTaurangaNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations