Sustainable and circular bioeconomy for food systems transformation

FAO launches new bioeconomy publication at COP 27


Greater role for bioeconomy in driving climate action advocated at FAO side event

FAO finished the COP 27 climate change conference on a high note with the launch of a new publication outlining the powerful links between bioeconomy and climate action. Sustainable and circular bioeconomy in the climate agenda: Opportunities to transform agrifood systems was presented in a side event at the Food and Agriculture Pavilion in Sharm-El Sheikh, Egypt, at the end of a busy couple of weeks for the FAO bioeconomy team.

FAO COP 27 side event on bioeconomy

FAO brought together a diverse group of stakeholders for the 18 November side event. The event opened with a keynote presentation by Joachim von Braun, Professor for Economic and Technological Change at Bonn University, Center for Development Research. Professor von Braun stressed how “a sustainable bioeconomy protects and makes use of nature, while at the same time supporting global food security, climate protection and the regeneration of natural resources”. He added that “bioeconomy is critical to limit warming to 1.5 °C”, with food systems and the construction sector combined contributing about 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

The distinguished speakers who took part in the event brought a myriad of insights from the private sector, the public sector, the science and innovation domain, and funding institutions. They stressed the need for institutions to translate inventions into practical uses; for good governance that brings entrepreneurs and start-ups to policy design; and for clear public policy direction to encourage private sector enterprise and innovation. They shared their professional experiences working on topics ranging from policies that enable the use of biowaste to the support of biosolutions through public procurement. They also brought up the issue of monitoring the sustainability of the bioeconomy, key to reduce trade-offs and optimize climate-positive outcomes. Speakers ended with the positive message that the bioeconomy is already playing a positive role in climate action and will increasingly do so, while calling for the bioeconomy concept to move from niche to default in climate discussions.

New FAO report launched

FAO used the occasion of the bioeconomy side event to launch its new publication offering an overview of how bioeconomy can contribute to climate action strategies outlined in Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommendations and nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and adaptation strategies. The publication explains the role of bioeconomy in the global climate agenda focusing on agrifood and bio-based sectors, and provides decision-makers with examples of bioeconomy innovations that can support climate change mitigation and adaptation commitments as a part of their NDCs.

Welcoming the publication, Lev Neretin, lead of FAO’s priority programme area on bioeconomy for sustainable food and agriculture, said: “Bioeconomy is a leapfrogging approach that has the ability to tackle all planetary crises – climate, biodiversity and environment – while also laying the basis for agrifood systems that are more efficient, sustainable, resilient and inclusive. This new publication provides further proof that bioeconomy can be a major player in climate action, as evidenced by the links between the bioeconomy-related strategies of more than 60 countries and regions, and their climate commitments.”

Marta Gomez San Juan, one of the authors of the publication, added: “Sustainable bioeconomy is cross-sectoral and holistic and thus provides a good framework to analyse trade-offs. Cooperation in innovation between countries and regions, and a continuous dialogue with all actors and stakeholders strengthens and enables the bioeconomy. Thinking systemic is the best way to accelerate climate action efforts.”

The new publication adds to the growing suite of FAO knowledge products on bioeconomy calling for transformation of our agrifood systems to combat hunger and malnutrition, provide sustainable livelihoods, tackle climate change, restore ecosystems and conserve biodiversity.

Other FAO bioeconomy contributions at COP 27

Overall, bioeconomy featured more strongly at COP 27 than in any previous COP, but there is still work to do to embed bioeconomy more deeply within UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) discussions.

FAO contributed to many bioeconomy-related sessions at COP 27, joining partners to highlight the importance of bioeconomy in discussions related to food security and nutrition, natural resource management, income generation and livelihoods, and responsible consumption and production. To cite just a few examples:  

Further outreach

Next up for the FAO bioeconomy team is the OECD Green Growth and Sustainable Development (GGSD) Forum in Paris on 22-23 November, followed by a bioeconomy side event on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework that FAO is co-hosting with Environment and Climate Change Canada in Montreal, Canada, at the COP 15 biodiversity conference on 16 December.



Publication: Sustainable and circular bioeconomy in the climate agenda: Opportunities to transform agrifood systems

Video: Why we need sustainable bioeconomy (EN, ES, AR, FR, RU, ZH)

Recording of FAO bioeconomy side event at COP 27:

FAO website: Sustainable and circular bioeconomy