Renewable Matter # 1 / Next Europe

Bioeconomy's Triple Advantage

by Antonio Di Giulio

The Bioeconomy aims to promote the most efficient and sustainable production and exploitation of biological resources to tackle global interconnected challenges.

The concept of the bioeconomy integrates primary production sectors – like agriculture, forestry and fisheries – and processing industries along the value chains for food, biobased products and bioenergy. 

This overarching, coherent approach is essential to allow the bioeconomy strategy to address major interconnected societal challenges such as food security, the sustainable management of natural and biological resources; the mitigation of climate change, job creation and promoting competitiveness. 

The final objective is to explore and develop triple-win solutions, to overcome the trade-offs among agriculture, nutrition and health, environmental sustainability and economic growth. To achieve this result, the EU Bioeconomy Strategy develops a supportive Research and Innovation policy environment that provides the ground for concrete actions.

Policy coherence is essential for the bioeconomy. 

Why is policy coordination so crucial in developing the bioeconomy? One of the reasons is the use of biomass, which is subject to trade-offs, not only between food and fuel but also between feed, biochemicals, bioplastics and other biomaterials. 

This is further exacerbated by the need to increase agricultural productivity while protecting biodiversity, ecosystems and the environment. 

We cannot continue to focus on individual sectorial priorities – we have to look at the broader picture and to create a win-win environment for industries, investors and society.

In this regard, the second pillar of the Strategy aims not only at improving coherence and synergies between the wide range of policy areas related to the bioeconomy at European level, but also at encouraging similar initiatives at regional and national level. 

The Strategy also encourages further international cooperation on research and innovation and at policy level it seeks to address in particular food security, climate change and a sustainable biomass supply.

Efficient, advanced and innovative biobased industries would not exist without receptive markets. Through policy interaction and dialogue with stakeholders, market-making measures for biobased products can be established to support the development of the bioeconomy. Indeed, the Bioeconomy Strategy foresees to support the development of biobased markets through a wide range of actions.

  • It aims at improving the understanding of available supply and demand of biomass and bio-waste across bioeconomy sectors, thus allowing the review of the existing policies and the development of new ones in support of a long-term biomass strategy for Europe.
  • It also provides support to overcoming the “valley of death” between products and their markets for the development of biobased products by providing support to demonstration, pilot and up-scaling activities.
  • Furthermore, the strategy supports the development of market instruments to encourage the uptake of biobased products by consumer markets and green procurement. It does this by developing market instruments ranging from standards and labels for biobased products to sustainability and life cycle assessment methods.
  • Finally, the Bioeconomy strategy develops approaches to better inform consumers about product properties in order to promote a more sustainable lifestyle, and to involve civil society in a participatory governance of the bioeconomy.