What is a bioeconomy and what is done with it?
The bioeconomy encompasses all sectors and systems that are based on biological resources.
The European Union includes agriculture, forestry, fisheries, food and bioenergy in this area, including the management of organic waste.
Thus understood, bioeconomy totals an annual volume of about 2 billion euros and 18 million jobs; besides being a key sector to encourage growth in rural areas.
“We need a system change in terms of how we produce, consume and discard products,” says Jyrki Katain, vice-president of the European Commission responsible for Employment Promotion, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness.
By developing a bioeconomy people can find new and innovative ways to supply food, products and energy without depleting the limited biological resources of the planet,” he says.
“In addition, rethinking our economy and modernizing production models is not only about the environment and climate: there is also a huge potential in terms of green jobs, especially in rural and coastal areas,” he adds.
The basic lines advanced by the European executive in this area are grouped into three main blocks and aim to strengthen the sectors of the European Union with a biological basis, provide the necessary resources to accelerate the implementation of an advanced and sustainable bioeconomy model; and have scientific knowledge and political support to protect the environment, understanding the “ecological limitations of the bioeconomy”, as the Commission has pointed out.
The bioeconomy strategy was one of the proposals presented in 2012 by the President of the Commission in the letter of intent for growth and investment, addressed to the Presidents of the European Parliament and the Council.
Among other sections that are intended to be specified now, the European Commission proposes to create an investment platform on circular bioeconomy with a budget of 100 million euros, develop a strategic calendar for the implementation of sustainable food and agricultural systems; and launch pilot actions to develop the bioeconomy in rural, coastal and urban areas.
The first in-depth debate on the proposal on bioeconomy, with the participation of the main agents involved, was held on October 22 in Brussels.
The concept of working around a bioeconomy is not new. In reality, bioeconomy is nothing less than forestry and agriculture working together.
An example of how a bioeconomy works is choosing to produce plastics from platn oils as supposed to from fossil fuels.
A bioeconomy, which is often pointed to as the 4th Industrial Revolution, seeks to address resource intensive agricultural practices and to substitute them with ways of producing food without spending every little resource that exists in a specific environment.
Different from other proposals, the creation of a bioeconomy allows countries, regions and even small parcels of land to assess, diagnose and effectively develop practices and techniques that satisfy its needs.
The key is to use, not abuse nature, in the creation of local and regional economies whose goal, besides creating enough food for subsistence and commerce, is to conserve resources and promote a greener more environmentally friendly way of developing communities.
Each community has their own strengths and weakenesses, their own sources of energy and production, and it is based on each of their individual realities that a bioeconomy can be created so that it favors that specific community.
According to the European Research and Innovation Networks, a bioeconomy intends to “increasing the influence of regions and their stakeholders in shaping their own economies”. In the case of ERRIN, an important objective is the increase in cooperation and projects between the European regions in this field.
Projects included in a bioeconomy range between creating a circular economy, that is, an economy where product design takes into account the viability of recycling most if not all the things that are manufactured; transforming the food system so it becomes more resilient in difficult times, growing locally to consume locally, among others.
The best thing about bioeconomy projects is that they can be developed and managed at the local level. Communities can organize as supposed to depending on government to do it all, or to undo it all.