Global Bioenergy Partnership

At a glance: bioenergy and GBEP

Project motto: "Global Bioenergy Partnership: working together for sustainable development"

Bioenergy is a renewable energy produced from biomass, such as wood, energy crops, and organic wastes and residues. Biomass can be directly or indirectly converted into biofuels, which can be of solid, liquid or gaseous forms.

Bioenergy is an important type of energy globally. In 2017, bioenergy accounted for around 12 percent of global energy consumption and for around 50 percent of the global energy consumption from renewables. Many people around the world use bioenergy in some form. Bioenergy use fallsinto two main categories – traditional and modern. Traditional bioenergy use refers to the burning of solid biomass (such as wood, animal waste and traditional charcoal) using inefficient methods, such as open fires. Modern bioenergy use, instead, is more efficient than traditional methods, and it includes efficient technologies for using solid, liquid, and gaseous biomass fuels for modern applications, such as cooking, space heating, electricity generation, combined heat and power (CHP), and transport. The most utilized type of biomass for bioenergy is solid fuels (such as woodfuel), much of which is still used in a traditional way. 

Bioenergy is sustainable only if its entire production chain (feedstock production, processing and conversion) and end use practices are sustainable. Sustainability includes environmental, social and economic considerations.  

The main environmental issues are responsible use of agro-chemicals and fertilisers, prevention of soil erosion, protection of biodiversity, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, improvement of air quality, and sustainable management of natural resources, such as water and land.  

Social sustainability means providing a better life for all, leaving no one behind. It involves addressing issues such as indoor air pollution, rural jobs and development, labour conditions, gender, and access to land and water.

Economic sustainability means that the policy environments and the government incentives to encourage bioenergy should target technologies that are economically and commercially viable in the medium and long term. 

The GBEP sustainability indicators are a practical, science-based tool to measure the sustainability of bionergy pathways.

Bioenergy offers significant potential for emission reductions in electricity, heat and transportation. The potential for climate change mitigation depends on many factors, including alternative energy scenarios.

Emission reductions should be assessed considering the full lifecycle: this includes production (choice of feedstock, agricultural practices, land use changes, etc.), refining and conversion processes, and end-use practices. GBEP has developed the Common Methodological Framework for GHG Lifecycle Analysis of Bioenergy to harmonise lifecycle assessments and allow for transparent comparison between various methodologies.

Bioenergy offers new growth opportunities in developing countries, but it is important to guarantee the livelihoods of the most vulnerable. There can be many complex interactions between food availability and prices, bioenergy production and use, and resource management more generally. 

Holistic approaches that take into account environmental, social and economic factors – bioenergy value chains that use appropriate feedstocks, adopt sustainable land use practices, consider local contexts and are accompanied by effective policies – can be compatible and even beneficial for food security. Sustainability assessment and monitoring are key for continually adapting policies and management practices to ensure both food and energy security.

GBEP facilitates knowledge sharing on positive bioenergy practices that take into account nutrition security.

The Global Bioenergy Partnership, hosted at FAO, was initiated in response to the Gleneagles Plan of Action in 2005 by the G8 +5 countries. Its mission is to “to support wider, cost effective biomass and biofuels deployment, particularly in developing countries where biomass use is prevalent”. GBEP's work has received consistent support and mandates from G7/G8 and G20 nations. The partnership focuses on sustainable development, climate change mitigation, and food and energy security. 

GBEP Partners focus on 

  • fostering the sustainable development of bioenergy;
  • establishing a harmonized methodology to measure GHG emission reductions from biofuels and solid biomass use; and
  • promoting awareness and information exchange on bioenergy. 


GBEP and its partners comprise 23 countries and 16 international organizations and institutions.

A further 33 countries and 16 International Organizations and institutions are participating as observers. 

Hosted by FAO, GBEP is a voluntary-based global initiative devoted to bioenergy and supported by a strong political G8 mandate. Bringing together public, private and civil society representatives, it provides a forum to develop effective policy frameworks to suggest rules and tools to promote sustainable biomass and bioenergy development; to facilitate investments in bioenergy; to promote project development and implementation; to foster R&D and commercial bioenergy activities.

GBEP welcomes contributions to its programme of work. Countries, private sector associations, research institutes, development banks and other relevant international, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations may apply for partnership or observer status in GBEP by submitting a request partnership is subject to a consensus of the GBEP steering committee, in which all partners participate, and to signature of the GBEP Terms of Reference. 

GBEP working areas
Tools and ResourcesMultimedia

GBEP Secretariat
Office of Climate Change, Biodiversity and Environment 
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
00153 Rome, Italy

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