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Probing the European bioeconomy’s development through its drivers and indicators

Partners from the BioMonitor project published its latest paper in the Sustainability journal on the drivers and indicators that will measure the development of the bioeconomy

Climate Change and Environment
Food and Natural Resources
Fundamental Research

The COVID-19 pandemic shifted the tectonic plates that once stabilised economic growth around the globe. Partners from the BioMonitor project wrote a paper that examines closely the driving factors, and the indicators that will allow us to measure the bioeconomy’s development. This is part of the Sustainability’s Special Issue on “Accelerating Bioeconomy Growth through Applied Research and Policy Change”. A lot of changes have happened since the EU’s Bioeconomy Strategy Update in 2018. The European Commission [introduced] a series of important policies such as the EU Green Deal and the EU Biodiversity Strategy. These were followed by the pandemic which struck the entire world. All these chain of events illustrate the value of the bioeconomy as it can provide an alternative solution for the world’s economy including Europe’s. It must however be sustainable, and therefore meet the United Nation’s Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs). What makes the bioeconomy sustainable? The BioMonitor project wished to answer this question through its latest scientific publication. Colleagues from Wageningen University and Research (WUR), Royal Netherlands Standardization Institute (NEN), Statistics Netherlands (CBS), European Forest Institute (EFI), nova-institute GmBH, and the Technical University of Munich (TUM) wanted to know how the European bioeconomy works inside-out by first looking at the bigger picture and then dissecting it into parts in the form of bio-based sectors. They analysed driving factors of the bioeconomy, and identified indicators that are either already linked to the objectives of the EU’s bioeconomy strategy, or those that measure the impact of changes in supply, demand drivers, resource availability, and policies on sustainability goals. We took the opportunity to ask Maximilian Kardung from WUR a few questions related to the paper. If there are existing driving forces within the bio-based sector such as technology and innovation, market organisation, climate and environmental change, demographics economic development and consumer preferences, will these efforts become futile without the support of policies, strategies and legislation? MK: The driving forces that we analyzed in the paper are going to develop in one way or another also without the support of policies, strategies, and legislation, thus government measures. At the moment, several government measures are already implemented. The key challenge for policy-makers with the support of policies, strategies, and legislation lies in steering these driving forces in a way which promotes the growth of the bio-based sector sustainably while not creating too much dependence on direct government support. How important is the collaborative efforts between the public and the private sector in order to make the bioeconomy sustainable? MK: Collaboration between the public and private sector is vital to make the bioeconomy sustainable. The bioeconomy is not sustainable by nature and bio-based products are not always more sustainable than fossil-based products. But it is also not easy for companies to produce bio-based products that are competitive with fossil-based products. Many of the biotechnologies needed for developing the bioeconomy are heavily regulated in the European Union. So, collaborative efforts between the public and the private sector can help address the problem, while ensuring it is done in a sustainable manner. We have already seen the European Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking as a crucial EU policy initiative that works as a Public-Private Partnership. Read the full article on: http://biomonitor.eu/news/probing-the-european-bioeconomy-development-drivers-and-indicators/

Keywords

bioeconomy, sustainability, green deal, EU biodiversity, environment change, bio-based sector, biotechnology, circulary economy