Sustainable and circular bioeconomy for food systems transformation

Bioeconomy on show at OECD sustainability forum


FAO brings agrifood systems perspective to session on bio-innovations

On November 22–23, FAO’s bioeconomy team headed to Paris for the 2022 OECD Green Growth and Sustainable Development (GGSD) Forum. The trip followed hot on the heels of COP 27, where FAO led and participated in many bioeconomy-related side events and launched a new publication on sustainable and circular bioeconomy in the climate agenda.

Bioeconomy at the GGSD

FAO’s senior bioeconomy expert, Marta Gomez San Juan, took part in a panel discussion on the morning of 23 November on Innovation in bioeconomy sectors for a circular economy, where she stressed the distinct role bioeconomy can play in green growth and agrifood systems transformation to sustain the growing global population. “We are not capturing the maximum value from biological resources, and we are still calling it waste where there is a valuable resource,” she noted. “Biological resources can support food security, rural livelihoods, and better natural resource management, while simultaneously addressing the triple planetary crises of climate change, ecosystem degradation and biodiversity loss.”

Unfortunately, none of this is a given. The bioeconomy involves trade-offs and risks, as well as opportunities and benefits. To ensure that we bring about win-win situations in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and reduce trade-offs, Gomez San Juan said “we must combine context-specific solutions with global common goals and targets”. She highlighted how innovations such as biotechnologies to valorize waste, compostable materials such as mulching films or food packaging, new foods such as 3D printed food, or microbiome-based solutions such as biostimulants or biofertilizers, are already present in most counties and will soon be in all. However, Gomez San Juan cautioned that technology and innovation are only part of the solution for developing a sustainable and circular bioeconomy, underlining the importance of “traditional and indigenous agrifood systems as an integral part of the transition”.

The GGSD bioeconomy session was moderated by Christian Patermann, Former Director EU Commission and Advisor to the German Government on bioeconomy matters. Panellists represented a range of sectors from research and innovation, to public and private sector, to certification and standards, resulting in a lively and though-provoking discussion on how to use a cross-cutting framework such as bioeconomy to achieve a green and just economic transition, while minimizing trade-offs.

COP 15 around the corner

Next up, FAO will co-host a side event with Environment and Climate Change Canada on Achieving Post-2020 targets through Sustainable Bioeconomy in Agrifood Systems at the UN COP 15 biodiversity conference in Montreal, Canada, on 16 December.



GGSD: GGSD bioeconomy side event (EN and FR video) and in Youtube 2022 GGSD Forum/Forum CVDD 2022 - YouTube  

COP15: Upcoming COP 15 side event (web)

New FAO bioeconomy publication: Sustainable and circular bioeconomy in the climate agenda: Opportunities to transform agrifood systems 

New FAO bioeconomy video (6 languages): Why we need sustainable bioeconomy  - ENESARFRRUZH