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Sustainable Bioeconomy Guidelines

Bioeconomy can be defined as the knowledge-based production and utilization of biological resources, biological processes and principles to sustainably provide goods and services across all economic sectors. It involves three elements: 

  1. The use of renewable biomass and efficient bioprocesses to achieve a sustainable production; 
  2. The use of enabling and converging technologies, including biotechnology; 
  3. Integration across applications such as agriculture, health and industry.

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 23 members as of March 2018: 11 countries (Argentina, Brazil, China, Germany, Italy, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Netherlands, South Africa, Uruguay and US), the German Bioeconomy Council, the EU Commission, OECD, CIAT, SEI, UNEP, WWF, the Nordic Council of Ministries, the EU Bio-Based Industries Consortium, Wageningen University, the World Business Council for Development (WBCSD) and FAO.

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)