Manifesto maps out Europe's future bioeconomy

Manifesto maps out Europe's future bioeconomy

A high-level conference held in Utrecht, the Netherlands in mid-April, under the Dutch Presidency of the Council of the European Union, has published a manifesto that sets out a roadmap for the development of the bioeconomy in the EU.

The manifesto defines the bioeconomy as: “those parts of the economy that use renewable biological resources (biomass) from land and sea – such as crops, forests, fish, animals and micro-organisms, as well as biological residues and waste – to produce food, animal feed, materials, chemicals, fuels and energy in a sustainable way.” The bioeconomy is “as old as mankind” but a new focus on the bioeconomy now offers “features and advantages, like carbon neutrality, renewability, circularity and multi-functionality,” according to the manifesto.

The manifesto adds that transition to a circular and sustainable bioeconomy is “inevitable” because, although fossil fuels have for two centuries been the driving force behind development of the modern economy, the time has arrived “to end the fossil fuel era because it has caused major problems for the climate, the environment and for mankind as a whole.”

Bio-economy building blocks

The manifesto puts forward a number of guiding principles and suggests actions that could be “building blocks” for the bioeconomy. The guiding principles include the necessity for a bioeconomy to be a connected economy, with a need for a “holistic systems approach,” that there should be high levels of energy and resource efficiency, and that the maximum benefit should be derived from the resources of land and sea without compromising their sustainability.

The conference was organised by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and by the European Commission in line with the Commission's 2012 communication on “Innovating for sustainable growth: a bioeconomy for Europe,”[1] which promised wide-ranging dialogue to map out the bioeconomy.

Karin Weustink, deputy director for green growth from the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs said that the Netherlands had put a particular focus on the bio-based economy. “That means we are moving away from fossil raw materials to bio-based raw materials and that gives great opportunities,” she said. In particular, a bio-based approach could lead to the production of “new chemicals, new materials, energy and of course food.”

The European Bioeconomy Stakeholders' Manifesto: Building Blocks is available at: http://bioeconomyutrecht2016.eu/Static/bioeconomyutrecht2016.eu/Site/Manifest.pdf