Sustainable and circular bioeconomy for food systems transformation

New FAO-led bioeconomy project in Pakistan scoops multimillion dollar grant


Funding from Global Environment Facility will valorize waste from banana production

In a major endorsement of FAO’s bioeconomy work, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) has approved a new project in Pakistan that will turn waste from the banana value chain into sustainable bio-based textiles. The project, announced in Brasilia during the 64th GEF Council Session, will receive a grant of USD 3.73 million over six years. It joins 25 other FAO-led initiatives selected as part of the next GEF cycle at the June Council, which together will receive USD 174.7 million in GEF funding and leverage an estimated USD 1.2 billion in co-financing.

The “Bananas in Pakistan's Bioeconomy: Transforming Waste into Textile” project is part of the GEF Eliminating Hazardous Chemicals from Supply Chains integrated programme, which focuses specifically on the fashion and construction sectors. The programme aims to stimulate innovations in new materials, technologies, and practices; create markets and demand for such innovations; and embed the principle of “green by design”.

Bioeconomy for agrifood system transformation

Welcoming the funding news, Lev Neretin, who leads the FAO programme priority area on Bioeconomy for Sustainable Food and Agriculture, said: “This GEF grant is a recognition of the strong foundations in sustainable bioeconomy that FAO has laid over many years. FAO Members in 2022 endorsed bioeconomy as a strategic priority for the next decade, and we are now moving into a new phase of more concerted action on the ground. It is estimated about a two-thirds of biomass produced during banana production is wasted – this new project in Pakistan aims to turn waste into value-added products, bolstering food security and rural livelihoods while developing alternative, bio-based textiles that require fewer chemicals and are much kinder to the environment.”

Florence Rolle, the FAO Representative in Pakistan, also celebrated the award of the GEF grant. “Turning non-edible waste from the banana value chain into sustainably produced fabrics is a win-win situation,” she remarked. “It extracts more value from the inputs used to produce the banana plants and from banana residues, while at the same time offering extra income opportunities and teaching new skills to rural populations, in particular women. Pakistan is really showing how to lead in sustainable bioeconomy innovation, and this grant from the GEF will be a catalyst for more sustainable agrifood system transformation down the line.”

The FAO press release is here.

The GEF press release is here.

Photo: © FAO/Fredrik Lerneryd



FAO Bioeconomy


FAO Pakistan