Meeting Policy Challenges for a Sustainable Bioeconomy

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This publication investigates key aspects surrounding the sustainability of bioeconomy development: the use of biomass as feedstock for future production;  the design and building of biorefineries for the manufacture of a range of fuels, chemicals and materials, and also for electricity generation; and the use of biotechnologies such as synthetic biology, metabolic engineering and gene editing.

Today more than 50 countries have a dedicated bioeconomy strategy or related policies. While the bioeconomy is consistent with sustainability policy (examples are the circular economy, the UN Sustainable Development Goals, green growth, re-industrialisation, rural regeneration, climate change mitigation), synergies must be ensured to avoid over-exploitation of natural resources and conflicting global needs.



Reconciling food and industrial needs for biomass

This chapter is mainly about non-OECD countries and their developing bioeconomies. They are central to the development of a globalised bioeconomy and to the sustainable future of OECD countries’ bioeconomies. Future projections see the need for significantly increased agricultural output to feed a growing population. And yet there seems to be limited capacity for increased land use (extensification). This dilemma could bring OECD countries and partner economies into competing use for biomass. Many OECD countries will be net biomass importers, while many developing and poorer nations can be expected to be exporters of biomass. Nations could easily collide with each other through biomass disputes. A top priority for policy makers is to reconcile the food and industrial demands of biomass to prevent negative effects in some nations being created through positive effects in others. A sustainable bioeconomy cannot be produced through such poorly distributed benefits.


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