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What is sustainable bioenergy?

Bioenergy is energy from biofuels. Biofuel is fuel produced directly or indirectly from biomass. Biomass is material of biological origin, for example wood, dung or charcoal and it excludes material embedded in geological formations and transformed to fossils.  

The links between bioenergy and food security are complex. Making bioenergy development sustainable becomes even more challenging when trying to capture its potential benefits on rural development, climate and energy security. An integrated approach is required to address these links and promote both “food and fuel”, and ensure that bioenergy contributes to sustainable development. This approach requires:

  • In-depth understanding of the situation and of the related opportunities, risks, synergies and trade-offs.
  • An enabling policy and institutional environment, with sound and flexible policies and effective means to implement these.
  • Implementation of good practices by investors and producers in order to reduce risks and increase opportunities; and appropriate policy instruments to promote these good practices.
  • Proper impact monitoring, evaluation and response.

In order to promote this sound and integrated approach, FAO, in collaboration with partners, has developed the FAO Support Package to Decision-Making for Sustainable Bioenergy. This support package includes different elements which can be used independently or together at different stages within the decision making and monitoring processes of bioenergy development. 

 

 

Decision Support Tool (DST)

Decision Support Tool (DST)

The UN-Energy DST for sustainable bioenergy, prepared jointly by FAO and UNEP, proposes step-wise guidance for both strategy formulation and investment decision-making processes, and offers a repository of technical resources and links to existing tools, guidelines and information resources. The DST can be seen as providing a comprehensive framework under which the other elements of the FAO support package fit.

Bioenergy and Food Security (BEFS) Approach

Bioenergy and Food Security (BEFS) Approach

The FAO BEFS Approach supports countries in developing evidence based policies derived from country level information and across institutional dialogue involving relevant stakeholders. More specifically, the BEFS Approach consists of a multidisciplinary and integrated set of tools and guidance that can support countries throughout the bioenergy policy development and implementation process.

Global Bioenergy Partnership (GBEP) Bioenergy Sustainability Indicators

Global Bioenergy Partnership (GBEP) Bioenergy Sustainability Indicators

The 24 GBEP Bioenergy Sustainability Indicators were developed with FAO and agreed upon in 2011 by 23 countries and 13 international organizations (with the involvement of a further 22 countries and 10 international organizations as observers) to provide a comprehensive yet practical means of evaluating the impacts of bioenergy production and use in a country.

As of September 2016 , the GBEP sustainability indicators for bioenergy had been implemented in around a dozen countries. From 2011-2014, FAO pilot tested the indicators in Colombia and Indonesia with Germany’s support. Furthermore, in 2016 FAO launched a project to strengthen the capacity of Paraguay and Viet Nam to monitor the environmental, social and economic impacts of bioenergy production and use through these indicators.

Integrated Food-Energy Systems (IFES)

Integrated Food-Energy Systems (IFES)

An Integrated Food-Energy System (IFES) is a diversified agricultural production farming system that incorporates agro-biodiversity and builds on the principles of sustainable production intensification. IFES can be small-scale operations managed at village/household level or large-scale operations designed for commercial activities. IFES can optimize land use through a combination of food and energy crops and/or optimize use through its cascading use to produce both food and energy. Depending on the circumstances, the generation of solar, thermal, geothermal, wind and hydro energy can be an integral part of the system.

FAO has developed an analytical framework to assess the sustainability and the possibility to replicate the IFES. This tool was used in Vietnam  in 2015, and will be used in Brazil, Mozambique and Ghana from 2016-2017.