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Bioeconomy: tapping natural and human resources to achieve sustainability

An increased understanding of the “bioeconomy” and its application has led to better forms of monitoring its sustainability outcomes. This paper presents an overview of sustainability assessment frameworks and indicators, such as certification and standards. It also reflects on the questions that need to be asked with regard to gender equity and poverty reduction.

Rocio A. Diaz-Chavez, Sofie Mortensen, Anna Wikman / Published on 3 February 2020
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These questions relate more to aspirations for more equitable societies to which the bioeconomy may be able to contribute, but cannot provide the whole solution. The report also presents an overview of the characteristics and usefulness of current indicators as a response to the need to monitor the activities and impacts of the bioeconomy. It is aimed primarily at decision makers, with a view to establishing a baseline and a review in some selected areas.

Finally, the paper makes recommendations on the design of an evaluation system, focused on areas that can directly demonstrate the benefits of the bioeconomy:

  • Economic impact demonstrated in at least two areas, using indicators such as regional economic development;
  • Job creation and benefits for workers (including increased wages), as part of a socio-economic indicator that allows monitoring over a period of time or per sector;
  • Increased capacity building in the region, in relation to the skills needed in the bioeconomy and how it can support social development;
  • The value added by value chains, products, processes and sectors, which should be part of the bioeconomy rather than just the agricultural or forestry sectors;
  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions in those value chains where bioproducts are replacing fossil fuel-derived products; and
  • An improvement on the Human Development Index, to make a general index that can help monitor progress in a region using a horizontal analysis.

The proposed criteria and evaluation framework are intended to be neither static nor final. They are proposed in the light of experience of the bioenergy sector, as it is increasingly applied around the world, and the growing body of literature. Many of these efforts are still new in many areas of the Global South.


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Topics and subtopics
Economy : Bioeconomy
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