Send link

Nature commentary: Bioeconomy important for SDGs

The bioeconomy – economy based on biological knowledge and resources can help to achieve key points of the UN sustainability goals and is central to the implementation of climate and sustainable goals.

The UN and participating countries have adopted a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all.
United Nations

This concept is the central theme of a commentary from the current issue of the scientific journal Nature (2016, Bd. 535, S. 221), presented by experts from the German Bioeconomy Council and the OECD. In the article, the authors summarise the final communiqué of the Global Bioeconomy Summit 2015 in Berlin, at which more than 700 experts from 82 nations met last November. Over the two-day event, the participants set themselves the goal of increasing the involvement of the bioeconomy in sustainable development and the battle against climate change. The Bioeconomy Council of the Federal Government invited delegates from all over the world to attend the first Global Bioeconomy Summit. Four of the five authors from the article in Nature are members of the Germany Bioeconomy Council, a panel of bioeconomy experts that advises the Federal Government on biobased economies: head of the council’s office Beate El-Chichakli, co-chairs Christine Lang and Joachim von Braun, Councillor Daniel Barben and Jim Philp, a policy analyst of the OECD in Paris.

World’s first Global Bioeconomy Summit

The authors were members of the 37 member international advisory committee at the Global Bioeconomy Summit held from 24 to 26 November last year in Berlin. Over the two-day event, the participants had set themselves the common goal of increasing the involvement of the bioeconomy in sustainable development and the battle against climate change: to reduce fossil fuel worldwide and use renewable raw materials sustainably and efficiently for food and everyday life, whilst protecting the ecosystems.

The Bioeconomy Council invited delegates from all over the world to attend the first Global Bioeconomy Summit. At the end of the Summit, the participants agreed on a final communiqué, highlighting five priorities.

Laying foundations for the future

Summing up with regard to the Sustainable Development Summit in New York and the upcoming climate negotiations in Paris, Christine Lang, Co-Chair of the Bioeconomy Council, said, "Sustainability is one of the top issues on the political agenda. 2015 is the year of major international negotiations. The Global Bioeconomy Summit has laid the foundations to integrate the bioeconomy in this process." New policy and research initiatives for the bioeconomy in many countries have been triggered since the Summit was held.

Re-establishing harmony between people and nature

“The vision of the bioeconomy is to reconcile people and nature,” said Joachim von Braun co-chair of the Bioeconomy Council. The central message of the authors in Nature: bio-based industries such as agricultural and forestry, the food industry, biotechnology, the bioenergy sector or green chemistry are particularly important for the achievement of the climate and sustainability goals. “In the future, the bioeconomy should be regarded as a whole, and therefore more comprehensive than in the past, and integrated into global political processes," stresses Christine Lang, co-chair of the Bioeconomy Council. The strategies and developments of the bioeconomy vary across the world. An adaptation to local circumstances and regional specialisation makes good sense and is important.

However, what works in one country can cause problems in another. “Dialogue is needed, coordinated global priorities and common approaches to prevent such adverse impacts,” emphasises Daniel Barben, a member of the Council.

Global Bioeconomy Summit

Five priorities of a global political agenda

The authors define five key elements of an international policy agenda to pave the way to a bio-based economy:

1. Strengthen international cooperation between governments and public and private research in the field of bioeconomy.

2. The bioeconomy’s contributions towards the Sustainable Development Goals should be rendered measurable.

3. Not just individual sections but the bioeconomy as a whole should be considered in the global negotiations for COP 21, the Sustainable Development Goals and trade agreements.

4. Education, joint learning and dialogue should be driven forward.

5. Promote flagship projects of the bioeconomy that develop solutions to global problems together.

The Bioeconomy Council of the German Federal Government also introduces these cornerstones to the German bioeconomy in order to network the bioeconomy and enable it to compete globally.

Back to top of page