Bioeconomy implies a new societal mindset
By Hartmut Welck, Senior Project Manager at Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum in Stuttgart, www.steinbeis-europa.de
With a growing population reaching 9 billion by 2050, increased competition over natural resources, higher environmental pressures and climate change, Europe needs to drastically rethink its management and use of renewable biological resources. The European economy relies heavily on fossil resources as carbon and energy sources, making it vulnerable to insecure and dwindling supplies and market volatility.
To remain competitive, the EU needs to become a low carbon society where resource efficient industries, bio-based products and bioenergy all contribute to green growth and competitiveness.
Increasing output, reducing environmental impact and competing uses
Before 2100, the European Bioeconomy will have to double its output of raw material while halving its environmental impact. Overcoming these complex and inter-connected challenges requires research and innovation in order to achieve rapid, concerted and sustained changes in lifestyle and resource use that cut across all levels of society and the economy.
However, the complex inter-dependencies that exist between challenges can lead to trade-offs, such as the controversy about competing uses of biomass. The latter arose from concerns about the potential impact on food security of the growing demand for renewable biological resources driven by other sectors, the use of scarce natural resources and the environment in Europe and third countries.
Bioeconomy is a societal project
Bioeconomy can address these grand societal challenges. But in order to tackle these societal challenges like food and feed security, sustainability, establishing of new biobased industrial processes, economic growth and new job creation, Bioeconomy has to be understood as a societal project which has to address socio-economic, ethical and ecological issues with all stakeholders in a participative approach in order to reconcile conflicting interests.
Therefore a new societal mindset is necessary. The biobased economy can assist Europe in making the transition from a carbon based economy to a more resource efficient society that relies more strongly on renewable biological resources to satisfy consumers’ needs, industry demand and tackle climate change a reality.
The European Bioeconomy Strategy has the ambition to trigger the big potential of Bioeconomy which is estimated to generate an added value of about €45 billion and 130 000 jobs in bioeconomy sectors by 2025.
Fig 1: New societal mindset to make bioeconomy a reality
BECOTEPS, The European Bioeconomy in 2030, White paper on Bioeconomy
BIOPRO Baden-Württemberg, 2013, Bioeconomy – path towards sustainable future
European Commission, 2012, Innovating for Sustainable Growth: A Bioeconomy for Europe
European Commission, 2012, Strategy for a sustainable Bioeconomy to ensure smart green growth in Europe
The European Bioeconomy in 2030, White Paper of ETPs