FAO Liaison Office with the European Union and the Kingdom of Belgium

Transforming Agrifood Systems and enhancing Climate Action through Forest-based Bioeconomy


Unlocking the full potential of forest-based bioeconomy to contribute to more sustainable economies and societies in Europe and beyond was the main theme of an FAO Brussels Briefing organized with the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The event follows previous engagements with Council Presidencies on forestry-related matters as an important part of the collaboration with FAO. 

Opening the event titled  “Strengthening the forest-based bioeconomy – a contribution to a more sustainable future with forests“, FAO Brussels Director Raschad Al-Khafaji gave a clear message on the importance bioeconomy and forests have in the FAO Strategic Framework:  “FAO’s aim is to promote global action that supports the transition towards a sustainable bioeconomy providing innovations for food security, climate action, and circular as well as cascading resource use, while reducing dependence on fossil-based inputs and synthetic chemicals, and supporting resilient agrifood systems that contribute to people’s livelihoods”.

Speaking on behalf of the Swedish Presidency, Helene Holstein, Deputy Director General of Ministry of Rural Affairs and Infrastructure, emphasized that forest-based bioeconomy, including building in wood, is particularly important for rural areas. “It brings innovation, diversify income, and create jobs not only in cities. And this is why the Council of the EU conclusions on bioeconomy approved earlier this year put special emphasis on the rural areas” she said. 
The event presented the potential of wood in construction in Europe and discussed experiences from Africa, Asia and Latin America on sustainable and efficient wood process and value adding. Ewald Rametsteiner, FAO Deputy Director of the Forestry Division, closed the meeting emphasizing that "a forest-based bioeconomy can contribute to building climate-neutral economies & societies”. He added that “expanding the use of sustainable wood in construction is part of transition needed to achieve impact at scale”. 

Other speakers included Gilbert van Lierop, Ambassador of Suriname to the Kingdom of Belgium and the EU, Markus Lier, Policy Analyst, Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development, European Commission;  Pieter Staelens, Policy Officer, Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, European Commission; Malgorzata Wróbel, Architect Policy Analyst, European Commission Joint Research Centre, "New European Bauhaus" Unit; and Georg Rappold, Head of Division Wood-based Value Chain, Austrian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Regions and Water Management.

The event was concluded by Professor Joachim von Braun, director of a department of the Center for Development Research at the University of Bonn and President of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, who highlighted the potential for science and innovation to address trade-offs between the multifunctional role of forests in this transition process.

More information on FAO’s work on Bioeconomy, can be found here
For more information on FAO’s work on Forestry here.