Each activity present in the ecoinvent database has a geographic location.

Oct 24th, 2023

Geographic locations are reported using internationally accepted abbreviations. For example, Switzerland has the abbreviation CH, Czechia is CZ and China is CN.

doc-icon  See the database overview file for a full list of activities and their geographies. The list of all geographies is available in the same file. 

To learn more about how geographies are created and processed, see here

As a background database, the aim is to cover activities in the most relevant geographies for the selected product/service. Geography coverage is dependent on data quality and availability. Thus, almost every activity in the database is also represented at the global level, using geographical location global (GLO) or Rest-of-the-World (RoW), representing the average global production. These geographical locations can also be used in the case a desired location is not present in the ecoinvent database. 

Geographical Resolution 

Activities may be available with different geographical resolutions, e.g., state, country, and continent. Depending on the needs of the sector and the peculiarities of a country, geographies are shaped to better represent reality. 

For electricity, for example, larger countries (e.g., United States, Brazil, China, and India) are split into grids. Geography is therefore defined to meet the needs of the sector. 

Geographies for the same activity cannot overlap. For example, an activity from Switzerland cannot coexist with the same activity at the European (RER) level since Switzerland is contained within RER. Therefore, geographies such as “Europe without Switzerland” are created. Full and partial overlaps are reported in the geography file. 

Global and Rest-of-the-World Activities 

For the majority of processes in the ecoinvent database, a global dataset is created to cover the average global production. Ideally, this global dataset is created individually to accurately reflect the global average conditions based on international data. In cases where data on the average global production are not available, the global dataset is created as the weighted average (by production volume) of several local datasets, or it is extrapolated as a copy of a local dataset. The uncertainty information in such extrapolated datasets is adjusted accordingly. 

If, for the same activity, both a global and a more local dataset exist, a RoW activity is created after linking, i.e., when a system model is selected. RoW represents the world minus all local geographies for which a process exists in the database. Thus, the RoW is different for different processes in the database. It may also change for the same process between versions of the database, i.e., when a local geography is added to, or removed from the database. The RoW dataset is not generated if the production volume of the reference product is <0.5% of the production volume of the global dataset, i.e., if the regional activities cover all global production, RoW is not needed. 

Example Calculation of the Rest-of-the-World 

Let us assume an activity is available for four different regions: the United States (US), India (IN), China (CN), and Global (GLO). 

During the linking, the RoW production is generated as a copy of the global dataset. The production volume (PV) of the RoW activity is calculated by subtracting the production volume of the regional activities from the global volume: 


In supply chains, the newly generated RoW process connects to other processes with overlapping geographical boundaries. 


Chris Mutel (Main Editor), ecoinvent, Switzerland