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Sustainability 2017, 9(6), 887; doi:10.3390/su9060887

The Route to Sustainability—Prospects and Challenges of the Bio-Based Economy

Department of Physical Geography, Stockholm University, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Stephen Morse
Received: 7 April 2017 / Revised: 15 May 2017 / Accepted: 17 May 2017 / Published: 24 May 2017
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Use of the Environment and Resources)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [269 KB, uploaded 24 May 2017]


The bio-based economy has been increasingly recognized in the sustainability debate over the last two decades, presented as a solution to a number of ecological and social challenges. Its premises include climate change mitigation, cleaner production processes, economic growth, and new employment opportunities. Yet, a transition to a bio-based economy is hampered by risk factors and uncertainties. In this paper, we explore the concept of a bio-based economy, focusing on opportunities of achieving sustainability, as well as challenges of a transition. Departing from an understanding of sustainability provided by the weak and strong sustainability paradigms, we first outline the definition and development of the bio-based economy from a theoretical perspective. Second, we use Sweden as an example of how a transition towards a bio-based economy has been evolving in practice. The review indicates that the proposed direction and strategies of the bio-based economy are promising, but sometimes contradictory, resulting in different views on the actions needed for its premises to be realized. Additionally, current developments adhere largely to the principles of the weak sustainability paradigm. In order for the bio-based economy to develop in accordance with the notion of strong sustainability, important steps to facilitate a transition would include acknowledging and addressing the trade-offs caused by biophysical and social limits to growth. View Full-Text
Keywords: bio-based economy; bio-economy; societal transitions; sustainability paradigms; social-ecological systems bio-based economy; bio-economy; societal transitions; sustainability paradigms; social-ecological systems
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Bennich, T.; Belyazid, S. The Route to Sustainability—Prospects and Challenges of the Bio-Based Economy. Sustainability 2017, 9, 887.

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