Sustainable Bioeconomy Guidelines

The bioeconomy is the production, utilization and conservation of biological resources, including related knowledge, science, technology, and innovation, to provide information, products, processes and services across all economic sectors aiming toward a sustainable economy (Global Bioeconomy Summit, 2018).                                              

As stated in the Summit, Bioeconomy development globally is and will be driven by three broad forces:

  1. societal aspirations and good governance for sustainable development and for improved health and wellbeing,
  2. needs and opportunities of valorization and protection of biological resources, including residues, in the traditional bioeconomy core-sectors linked to agriculture, forestry, fishery, water management food and bioenergy,
  3. scientific breakthroughs in biological, digital and other technology fields, expanding the frontiers of innovation possibilities.

Its cross-cutting nature offers a unique opportunity to comprehensively address interconnected societal challenges such as food security, fossil-resource dependence, natural resource scarcity and climate change, while achieving sustainable economic development. However, achieving sustainable bioeconomy development faces many challenges: these concern not only ensuring food security but also addressing climate change and managing natural resources in a sustainable way, managing competition between different uses of biomass feedstocks, while guaranteeing that bioeconomy development benefits everybody. It is therefore crucial to establish guidelines that enable it to be developed in a sustainable way. 

In January 2015, on the occasion of the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) meeting in Berlin, 62 Ministers of Agriculture recommended that FAO coordinates international work on bioeconomy. As a follow up, the German Ministry for Food and Agriculture (BMEL) has provided support to FAO to start working on Sustainable Bioeconomy Guidelines. The guidelines will be validated through regional and specific stakeholder meetings.

International Sustainable Bioeconomy Working Group

An International Sustainable Bioeconomy Working Group (ISBWG) was established in 2016, which includes 30 members as of September 2019: 14 countries (Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Malaysia, Namibia, Netherlands, South Africa, Uruguay and the United States of America), 2 regional governing bodies and affiliated institutions (European Commission Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking and the Nordic Council of Ministers), 3 non-governmental organizations (the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation, The Sustainability Consortium and World Wildlife Fund), 3 private Sector entities (Bio-Based Industries Consortium, Royal DSM and World Business Council For Sustainable Development), 5 research institutions (Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa, International Center for Tropical Agriculture, The Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, The Italian Council for Agricultural Research and Economics Analysis, Stockholm Environment Institute and Wageningen University) and four intergovernmental organizations (The Food and Agriculture Organization, The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and The United Nations Environment Programme).

FAO also contributes actively to other bioeconomy international fora, including the International Advisory Committee (IAC) of the Global Bioeconomy Summit (GBS), and the International Bioeconomy Forum (IBF)