Defintions of key bioenergy and food security terms

Bioenergy terms

Bioenergy: “All energy derived from biofuels”.

Biofuels: “Fuel[s] produced directly or indirectly from biomass”.  Fuel is defined as an “energy carrier intended for energy conversion”.

Biomass: “Material of biological origin excluding material embedded in geological formations and transformed to fossil”.

There are three types of biofuels: woodfuels, agrofuels and biofuels from municipal wastes. Each of them may be solid, liquid or gaseous.

  • Woodfuels: All types of biofuels originating directly or indirectly from trees, bushes and shrubs (i.e. woody biomass) grown on forest and non-forest lands  For the purpose of this project, “traditional” fuelwood and charcoal production will not be considered.  
  • Agrofuels: Biofuels obtained as a product of energy crops and/or agricultural (including animal) and agro-industrial by-products (see definitions below).
  • Biofuels from municipal waste: These include municipal solid waste incinerated to produce heat and/or power, and biogas from the anaerobic fermentation of both solid and liquid municipal wastes.

Agricultural by-products: “Biomass by-products originating from production, harvesting and processing in farm areas”.

Animal by-products: “Agricultural by-products originating from livestock keeping. It includes among others solid excreta of animals”.

Agro-industrial by-products: “Several kinds of biomass materials produced chiefly in food and fibre processing industries”.

These terms have been adapted from Unified Bioenergy Terminology – UBET, published by FAO in 2004. An index of terms has been extracted from this publication and posted here.

Food Security Terms

Food Security: “Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”. (World Food Summit, 1996)

Food security comprises four components: availability, access, utilization and stability.

  • Food availability: “The availability of sufficient quantities of food of appropriate quality, supplied through domestic production or imports (including food aid)”.
  • Food access: “Access by individuals to adequate resources (entitlements) for acquiring appropriate foods for a nutritious diet. Entitlements are defined as the set of all commodity bundles over which a person can establish command given the legal, political, economic and social arrangements of the community in which they live (including traditional rights such as access to common resources)”.
  • Food utilization: “Utilization of food through adequate diet, clean water, sanitation and health care to reach a state of nutritional well-being where all physiological needs are met. This brings out the importance of non-food inputs in food security”.
  • Food stability: “To be food secure, a population, household or individual must have access to adequate food at all times. They should not risk losing access to food as a consequence of sudden shocks (e.g. an economic or climatic crisis) or cyclical events (e.g. seasonal food insecurity). The concept of stability can therefore refer to both the availability and access dimensions of food security”.

The definitions have been excerpted from Food Security, FAO Policy Brief, Issue 2, June 2006


Guiding Principles

As part of its activities, BEFS has drafted a set of five guiding principles. These guiding principles, which are listed below, are not meant to be prescriptive. They are intended to provide guidance to organizations that use the outputs generated by BEFS.

BEFS’s guiding principles take into account the right to food approach that complements food security considerations of availability, access, stability and utilization with concerns for human dignity and cultural acceptability, and for empowerment by means of participation, non-discrimination, transparency and accountability.

General

  • Bioenergy production should be environmentally, socially and economically sustainable and it should safeguard and, if possible, foster food security.

Food Availability  

  • Sustainable bioenergy production should, if possible, increase - or at least not reduce - the global and local availability of sufficient quantities of food of appropriate quality.

Food Access

  • Sustainable bioenergy production should, if possible, increase - or at least not reduce - access by individuals, especially among the poor and vulnerable groups, to adequate resources for acquiring appropriate foods for a nutritious diet. 

Food Utilization 

  • Sustainable bioenergy production should, if possible, improve - or at least not worsen - especially among the poor and vulnerable groups, the utilization of food, through proper cooking, adequate diet, clean water, sanitation and health care to reach a state of nutritional well-being where all physiological needs are met.

Food Stability

  • Sustainable bioenergy production should, if possible, increase - or at least not reduce - access by individuals, especially among the poor and vulnerable groups, to adequate food at all times, by strengthening - or at least not weakening - their resilience to both sudden shocks and cyclical events.

last updated:  Wednesday, April 2, 2014