Bioeconomy is Europe's response to key environmental challenges the world is facing already today. It is meant to reduce the dependence on natural resources, transform manufacturing, promote sustainable production of renewable resources from land, fisheries and aquaculture and their conversion into food, feed, fibre, bio-based products and bio-energy, while growing new jobs and industries.
Graphic explaining bioeconomy

Over the coming decades, the world will witness increased competition for limited and finite natural resources. A 70 % increase of the world food supply is estimated to be required to feed the 9 billion global population by 2050.

Agriculture accounts for about 10 % of Union greenhouse gases emissions, and while declining in Europe, global emissions from agriculture alone are still projected to increase up to 20 % by 2030.

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. 

A clever use of resources

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.

The response to the challenges ahead

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.

Managed in a sustainable manner, bioeconomy can also:

  • sustain a wide range of public goods, including biodiversity and ecosystem services,
  • reduce the environmental footprint of primary production and the supply chain as a whole
  • increase competitiveness,
  • enhance Europe's self-reliance, and
  • provide jobs and business opportunities.

In brief, bioeconomy can contribute to build a more competitive, innovative and prosperous Europe.

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.

Bioeconomy in Horizon 2020

Under Horizon 2020, the EU identified seven priority challenges where targeted investment in research and innovation can have a real impact.

One of these is Societal Challenge 2 that addresses a wide range of key EU policy priorities:

Altogether, the budget for these three calls will serve to further implement the Bioeconomy in Europe where at least five countries (Finland, Germany, Ireland, Sweden and Norway) already have approved strategies at governmental level.