What is the Bioeconomy
Over the coming decades, the world will witness increased competition for limited and finite natural resources. A growing global population will need a safe and secure food supply.
And climate change will have an impact on primary production systems, such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture.
A transition is needed towards an optimal use of renewable biological resources. We must move towards sustainable primary production and processing systems that can produce more food, fiber and other bio-based products with fewer inputs, less environmental impact and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
To maintain its competitiveness, Europe will need to ensure sufficient supplies of raw materials, energy and industrial products under conditions of decreasing fossil carbon resources - oil and liquid gas production is expected to decrease by about 60 % by 2050.
Bio-waste (estimated at up to 138 million tons per year in the Union, of which up to 40 % is land-filled) has high potential added value as a feedstock for other productive processes.
Biological resources and ecosystems could be used in a more sustainable, efficient and integrated manner.
Food waste represents another serious concern. An estimated 30 % of all food produced in developed countries is discarded. Major changes are needed to reduce this amount by 50 % in the Union by 2030.
With its cross-cutting nature, the Bioeconomy offers a unique opportunity to address complex and inter-connected challenges, while achieving economic growth.
It can assist Europe in making the transition to a more resource efficient society that relies more strongly on renewable biological resources to satisfy consumers' needs, industry demand and tackle climate change.
The Bioeconomy – encompassing the sustainable production of renewable resources from land, fisheries and aquaculture environments and their conversion into food, feed, fiber bio-based products and bio-energy as well as the related public goods – is an important element of Europe’s reply to the challenges ahead. The Bioeconomy includes primary production, such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture, and industries using / processing biological resources, such as the food and pulp and paper industries and parts of the chemical, biotechnological and energy industries.
The Bioeconomy represents market estimated to be worth over EUR 2 trillion, providing 20 million jobs and accounting for 9 % of total employment in the Union in 2009. Investments in research and innovation will enable Europe to take leadership in the concerned markets and will play a role in achieving the goals of the Europe 2020 strategy and its Innovation Union and Resource Efficient Europe flagship initiatives. Managed in a sustainable manner, the Bioeconomy can also sustain a wide range of public goods, including biodiversity and ecosystem services. It can reduce the environmental footprint of primary production and the supply chain as a whole. It can increase their competitiveness, enhance Europe's self-reliance and provide jobs and business opportunities. The bioeconomy can contribute to build a more competitive, innovative and prosperous Europe.
Every euro invested in Bioeconomy research and innovation under Horizon 2020 will generate about €10 in value added. It will also contribute to the Commission's Europe 2020 goal on moving to a low-carbon economy by 2050 and to the flagship initiatives "Innovation Union" and "A Resource Efficient Europe".