Sustainable and circular bioeconomy for food systems transformation

Sustainable bioeconomy supporting biodiversity on #BiodiversityDay


Did you know that 22 May is the United Nations International Day for Biological Diversity?

Biological diversity is often understood in terms of the wide variety of plants, animals and microorganisms, but it also includes genetic differences within each species — for example, between varieties of crops and breeds of livestock — and the variety of ecosystems (lakes, forest, deserts, agricultural landscapes) that host multiple kind of interactions among their members (humans, plants, animals). We rely on biodiversity for a range of ecosystems services including food and water provision, clean air, pollination and healthy soils.

Unfortunately, around three-quarters of land-based environment and two-thirds of the marine environment have been significantly altered by human actions, and if we continue on our current pathway, we will not achieve many of the Sustainable Development Goals. Thus, we need regenerative solutions urgently.

Meeting different challenges

A sustainable and circular bioeconomy harnesses the power of biosciences, bio-innovations and biotechnologies to address many different challenges for which conserving biodiversity is paramount, including providing food, feed, wood-based products, paper, bio-based textiles, bio-based plastics, biochemicals, and biopharmaceuticals. 

In its Aspirational principles and criteria for a sustainable bioeconomy, the FAO-led International Sustainable Bioeconomy Working Group specifically references the importance of biodiversity conservation in Criterion 2.1: “The sustainability of the production of food and non-food goods depends on a number of crucial factors, including the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity of plants, animals and microorganisms, which is fundamental for ensuring resilient bioeconomy systems”.

Further, in a recent FAO compendium of bioeconomy good practices and policies, there is a whole section on the importance of the conservation and regeneration of biological resources with many examples of bioeconomy-related biodiversity efforts including the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) programme, Bioversity International, and the International Plant Protection Convention.

To meet the growing demand for food, fibre, fuel and fodder in an equitable and sustainable way without further depleting finite planetary resources will require conserving and sustainably managing biological diversity, wasting less, and creating local economic opportunities that leave no one behind, especially indigenous peoples and local communities that benefit, use and preserve biodiversity and ecosystem services.

The sustainable and circular bioeconomy aims to do just that.

Happy International Day for Biological Diversity!


Photo: Orangutan, Borneo (© Giesbers/WWF)   


Aspirational principles and criteria for a sustainable bioeconomy

How to mainstream sustainability and circularity into the bioeconomy? A compendium of bioeconomy good practices and policies


FAO Sustainable and Circular Bioeconomy

FAO Biodiversity

United Nations International Day for Biological Diversity