Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Developing bioenergy without threatening food-security in Southeast Asia

Developing bioenergy without threatening food-security in Southeast Asia

Bangkok, Thailand, 23 Jul 2014 -- Pursuing sustainable bioenergy opportunities in Southeast Asia without threatening food security is not just possible but achievable, a UN and multi-agency sponsored workshop heard today.

“Bioenergy can contribute towards achieving wider and more sustainable energy access,” said Hiroyuki Konuma, Assistant Director-General and Asia-Pacific Regional Representative of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). “The key is to develop bioenergy options sustainably, with the inclusion of smallholders and without competition with resources for food production,” he added.

When traditional fossil fuel prices remain high, the development of Southeast Asia’s biomass resources becomes more attractive, with crops such as sugarcane, tapioca and maize converted to bioenergy products. However the links between bioenergy and food security are complex. In order to ensure that food security is not threatened, a multi-faceted and sustainable approach is required that will also benefit rural development, mitigate climate change and ensure energy security.

In order to assist member countries achieve this balanced approach, FAO, in collaboration with partners, has developed the ‘Support Package to Decision-Making for Sustainable Bioenergy.’

“FAO has been working on the linkages and has developed a support package to assist countries in defining how to sustainably produce biofuels which are clearly in synchrony with food security,” said Konuma at the opening of an ‘Expert Workshop for the How2Guide for Bioenergy’ in Bangkok, Thailand.

The workshop is co-organized with the International Energy Agency (IEA) and International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). It is supported by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency and Thailand’s Ministry of Energy.

“Given the relevance of bioenergy for meeting energy security and climate mitigation goals, among others, and its great potential as an energy source in Southeast Asia, we are delighted to be collaborating with the Ministry of Energy of Thailand, FAO and IRENA in this workshop,” said Ingrid Barnsley, IEA’s Head of International Partnerships and Initiatives Unit.

“IRENA’s REmap 2030 (renewable energy roadmap) analysis shows the potential transformative role of modern sustainable bioenergy in all sectors (buildings, industry, power and transport) towards the doubling of the share of renewables in the global energy mix and contributing to access to modern energy services for all by 2030,” said Linus Mofor, Analyst for IRENA’s Innovation and Technology Centre. “We look forward to working with our partners and countries in the region in promoting the sustainable deployment of renewables. The Bioenergy How2Guide provides an opportunity in this direction”

“This opportunity allows for energy and agriculture experts to join forces and find solutions that are sustainable and food secure,” said Konuma. “The How2Guide initiative responds to the growing number of requests for assistance from emerging and developing economies with the development of roadmaps that are tailored to national frameworks, resources and capacities.”

The period 2014-2024 has been declared ‘Sustainable Energy for All’ decade in support of the UN Secretary General’s ‘Sustainable Energy for All’ initiative.

This workshop is the second in a series of events providing inputs to the IEA How2Guide for Bioenergy – a manual for policy and decision makers for the development and implementation of bioenergy technology roadmaps that are tailored to national frameworks, resources and capacities.

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