Special Issue "Sustainable Bioeconomy"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Economic and Business Aspects of Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 August 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Deniz Koca
Website
Guest Editor
Centre for Environmental and Climate Research (CEC), Lund University, Sölvegatan 37, 223 62 Lund, Sweden
Interests: circular bioeconomy; systems analysis; modeling of complex and dynamics systems; sustainability science; stakeholder facilitation; transdisciplinary research

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Bioeconomy ensures substantial environmental and socio-economic benefits while addressing the key global challenges that we are urged to act on over the years to come. It can address the international commitments on SDGs and Climate action (COP21 Paris Agreement) by, for example:

  • reducing the use of fossil based raw material and associated GHG emissions;
  • replacing non-degradable resources with degradable ones;
  • diversifying energy sources and ensuring security of supply;
  • increasing the multifunctionality and scope of the agricultural and forestry sectors, and unlocking the potential of seas and oceans;
  • improving the manufacturing processes, and making the side/waste streams available to develop alternative and value-added bio based products and businesses;
  • increasing employment and stimulating regional development, which contributes to economic growth and social prosperity.

With growing demand on biomass, however, a failure in the planning and the governance of the transition to a future bioeconomy may generate severe negative impacts on the environment and the socio-economic system. Among others:

  • conversion of ecologically fragile and valuable lands to agriculture may lead to land grabbing and possible CO2 emissions from such conversions;
  • intensification of production in agriculture and forestry may lead to depleted and contaminated water resources, loss of biodiversity, and decreased soil quality;
  • alternative use of biomass may result in higher food prices and jeopardize food security.

The aim of this Special Issue is to gather cutting edge studies addressing a range of environmental, economical, social, technological, political and/or legal aspects of sustainability, which are crucial to shape a truly sustainable future bioeconomy.

Dr. Deniz Koca
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • sustainable biomass production (from forestry, agriculture, marine, and waste/side streams)
  • biomass processing technologies
  • biotechnology
  • biorefinery
  • food and feed, biobased products and bio-fuel/energy
  • innovation
  • sustainable consumption
  • transition to bioeconomy
  • governance
  • circular bioeconomy
  • industrial symbiosis
  • legal frameworks
  • integrated policies
  • systems approach
  • bioeconomy indicators

Published Papers (19 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Perceptions of Bioeconomy and the Desire for Governmental Action: Regional Actors’ Connotations of Wood-Based Bioeconomy in Germany
Sustainability 2020, 12(23), 9792; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12239792 - 24 Nov 2020
Abstract
The term bioeconomy denotes political strategies that affect all areas of life and economy and require broad social support. Nevertheless, the term has not yet pervaded the everyday lives of many people. It is yet unclear what effects these concepts generate in the [...] Read more.
The term bioeconomy denotes political strategies that affect all areas of life and economy and require broad social support. Nevertheless, the term has not yet pervaded the everyday lives of many people. It is yet unclear what effects these concepts generate in the form of associations and what conflicts and political demands could be associated with them. Using an ethnographic approach, different actors from the forest and wood field of action were interviewed in two study regions in Germany, who are already, consciously or unconsciously, engaged in bioeconomy at a regional level. Different perceptions and interpretations of bioeconomies can be identified, which are often linked to political demands. These can be clustered into two groups. The first group refers to the forest as a place of primary production and demands an adaptation of forest management. The second group refers to wood as the most important raw material of bioeconomy and demands planning security necessary for change. The paper shows that, from the perspective of the interviewees, government action can contribute to the definition of concepts by sending clear signals and thus overcome the limited reach of strategy papers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Bioeconomy)
Open AccessArticle
Understanding Business Environments and Success Factors for Emerging Bioeconomy Enterprises through a Comprehensive Analytical Framework
Sustainability 2020, 12(21), 9018; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12219018 - 30 Oct 2020
Abstract
The development toward the bioeconomy requires, among others, generating and institutionalizing knowledge that contributes to technical and nontechnical inventions and innovations. Efforts to support innovation are often linked with the development of business models that facilitate the development in bioeconomy. However, the interdependences [...] Read more.
The development toward the bioeconomy requires, among others, generating and institutionalizing knowledge that contributes to technical and nontechnical inventions and innovations. Efforts to support innovation are often linked with the development of business models that facilitate the development in bioeconomy. However, the interdependences between the business models and their business environments are not sufficiently well understood in a way where misalignments that can obstruct the development can be dealt with adequately. Given this lacuna, this research aims to contribute to the development of a comprehensive analytical framework for better understanding the conditions of business environment as well as empirically apply the framework in an empirical study on cases of bioeconomy enterprises in Europe. In this paper, a comprehensive business environment framework is developed and applied for analyzing over 80 cases, thereby allowing for critical action arenas and crucial success factors to be identified. The findings are derived from a systematic application of the framework to relevant action arenas for business development: institutional development, technology and knowledge, consumers’ agency, market structure, funding, resource and infrastructure, and training and education. The results show that businesses in the bioeconomy, unlike other businesses, have to deal with more and very specific constraining legislative issues, infant and non-adapted technology and knowledge, as well as unclear values and perceptions of consumers. Due to this, businesses have to develop new forms of cooperation with different stakeholders. Successful businesses are characterized by the fact that they develop specific strategies, steering structures, and processes with a particular focus on learning and innovation to overcome misalignments between the business environment and their business models. Focusing efforts on learning and innovation in institutional development, technology and knowledge, consumers’ agency, and funding are especially promising as these turned out to be particularly critical and in particular need of institutional alignment for reducing different kinds of transaction costs in the development of bioeconomy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Bioeconomy)
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Open AccessArticle
Supply Chain Uncertainties of Small-Scale Coffee Husk-Biochar Production for Activated Carbon in Vietnam
Sustainability 2020, 12(19), 8069; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12198069 - 30 Sep 2020
Abstract
Between 2014 and 2019, an innovative small-pyrolysis system (the PPV300) using agrowaste as feedstock was transferred and adapted from Switzerland to Vietnam by a United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) project. The coffee husk resulting from the processing of coffee beans is usually [...] Read more.
Between 2014 and 2019, an innovative small-pyrolysis system (the PPV300) using agrowaste as feedstock was transferred and adapted from Switzerland to Vietnam by a United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) project. The coffee husk resulting from the processing of coffee beans is usually disposed of in Vietnam or burned inefficiently to dry coffee beans. Small-scale pyrolysis of coffee husk using the PPV300 avoids smoke emissions and local air pollution while providing an energy source for coffee drying and biochar as a by-product. This paper investigates the uncertainties in the “coffee husk to activated carbon” supply chain in Vietnam and discusses the pros and cons of different supply chain setups using a framework derived by Chopra and Meindl (2013). According to the analysis, a number of actors (an intermediary without previous direct involvement in the coffee supply chain, a coffee processor, or a hybrid between farm and processor), each with advantages and disadvantages, would be suitable from a supply chain perspective to attain an efficient strategy that would keep the price of the biochar low. However, in order to be attractive for one activated carbon producer, several PPV300 systems are needed to reach a significant economy of scale. Sufficient husk sourcing and storage capacity is also needed. If the purpose is simply to produce biochar for activated carbon, processors and intermediaries could consider a simpler and cheaper design than the PPV300. In conclusion, supply chain uncertainties and economic viability can be optimized when the PPV300 is used by coffee processors or intermediaries, who are able to make use of the co-products generated (biochar, heat, and wood vinegar). In addition to its financial viability, all of the other co-benefits of this technology should be taken into consideration (reduced smoke and environmental pollution, avoided health costs, greenhouse gas savings, etc.) for a proper assessment of its economic attractiveness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Bioeconomy)
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Open AccessArticle
A Natural Capital Lens for a Sustainable Bioeconomy: Determining the Unrealised and Unrecognised Services from Nature
Sustainability 2020, 12(19), 8033; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12198033 - 29 Sep 2020
Abstract
Human activity has led to degradation of the natural environment, with far-reaching impacts for society and the economy, sparking new conceptual framings for how people interact with, and depend upon, the environment. The bioeconomy and natural capital concepts both blend economics and natural [...] Read more.
Human activity has led to degradation of the natural environment, with far-reaching impacts for society and the economy, sparking new conceptual framings for how people interact with, and depend upon, the environment. The bioeconomy and natural capital concepts both blend economics and natural sciences and propose new interdisciplinary, environmental sustainability framings. Despite this similarity, the two concepts are rarely applied together. This paper applies a natural capital lens to the bioeconomy at three different levels: environmental sustainability framings; experts’ principles for a sustainable bioeconomy; and a case study of EU policy. We first construct an integrated cascade model that combines the unrealised potential of bioresources alongside unrecognised environmental services that tend to be systematically undervalued or ignored. Subsequently, we present five cornerstones identified from the sustainable bioeconomy-related literature from a natural capital perspective and highlight avenues of complementarity. The paper concludes with a policy case study of the EU Bioeconomy Strategy through a natural capital lens. There is evidence that the EU strategy has become increasingly aligned with the natural capital concept, but there is scope for further integration. The natural capital concept and related toolbox is an asset for the future bioeconomy to ensure it meets its environmentally sound and ecologically conscious objectives. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Bioeconomy)
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Open AccessArticle
Potential Pathways to the German Bioeconomy: A Media Discourse Analysis of Public Perceptions
Sustainability 2020, 12(19), 7987; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12197987 - 27 Sep 2020
Abstract
The bioeconomy has emerged as a popular, but ambiguous vision for a sustainable future. Its implementation depends not only on novel products and production processes, but also on balancing diverse interests, values, and interpretations of the concept. The German government’s plan to develop [...] Read more.
The bioeconomy has emerged as a popular, but ambiguous vision for a sustainable future. Its implementation depends not only on novel products and production processes, but also on balancing diverse interests, values, and interpretations of the concept. The German government’s plan to develop a sustainable bioeconomy in response to structural change in the lignite mining regions provides a unique opportunity to investigate what pathways towards the bioeconomy are supported by society. In order to characterize bioeconomy visions prevalent in public perception, we conducted a computer-assisted, mixed-methods discourse analysis of German-language newspaper articles published between 2010 and 2019. Results show that a techno-economic vision is dominant over ecological and social aspects, suggesting only one clear pathway to the German bioeconomy, which is increasingly criticized in the public debate. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Bioeconomy)
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Open AccessArticle
More Sustainable Bioenergy by Making Use of Regional Alternative Biomass?
Sustainability 2020, 12(19), 7849; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12197849 - 23 Sep 2020
Abstract
Bioenergy is a building block of the ongoing transformation toward renewables-based energy systems. Bioenergy supply chains are regionally embedded and need to be seen in a place-based context with specific characteristics and constraints. Using a German case study, the potential of regionally embedded [...] Read more.
Bioenergy is a building block of the ongoing transformation toward renewables-based energy systems. Bioenergy supply chains are regionally embedded and need to be seen in a place-based context with specific characteristics and constraints. Using a German case study, the potential of regionally embedded bioenergy chains in the past and the future is analyzed and discussed in this paper. The analysis integrates socio-ecological data and applies sustainability criteria in a multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) using the Preference Ranking Organization Method for Enriched Evaluation (PROMETHEE) methodology. The case study is focused on an industrial biogas fermenter in northwestern Germany, which currently uses predominantly maize as a substrate for bioenergy. Objectives for future development according to the ambitions of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) discussion are set and include the involvement of the farmer as biogas plant operator and other regional stakeholders. Since the focus of the research is put on the contribution of alternative biomass, such as grass, for the optimization of bioenergy settings, the question concentrates on how different mixtures of alternative biomass can be embedded into a sustainable management of both the landscape and the energy system. The main findings are threefold: (i) bioenergy supply chains that involve alternative biomass and grass from grasslands provide optimization potentials compared to the current corn-based practice, (ii) with respect to more sustainable practices, grass from grassland and alternative bioenergy supply chains are ranked higher than chains with increased shares of corn silage, and, more generic, (iii) optimization potentials relate to several spheres of the social–ecological system where the bioenergy structure is embedded. To conclude, sustainable enablers are discussed to realize optimization potentials and emphasize the integration of regional stakeholders in making use of alternative biomass and in making regional bioenergy more sustainable. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Bioeconomy)
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Open AccessArticle
Introducing a Multiscalar Framework for Biocluster Research: A Meta-Analysis
Sustainability 2020, 12(9), 3890; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12093890 - 09 May 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Bioclusters have grown in popularity in the last decade in response to the global environmental and climate challenges. These clusters envisage sustainable and local production value chains in different sectors of the bioeconomy. However, the sustainability of these clusters is often questioned because [...] Read more.
Bioclusters have grown in popularity in the last decade in response to the global environmental and climate challenges. These clusters envisage sustainable and local production value chains in different sectors of the bioeconomy. However, the sustainability of these clusters is often questioned because of the negative social and environmental effects they can have both inside and outside of their region. At present, a framework is missing to analyze these effects that span multiple levels and multiple scales. The aim of this paper is to develop such a multiscalar framework. For this aim, we conducted a meta-analysis of biocluster case studies. As a result, we constructed a framework that combines the aspects of sustainability, knowledge and resource flows, cluster network properties, and the political and institutional structures. We tested this framework on the question of how the different scales of biocluster performance interact and depend on each other. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Bioeconomy)
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Open AccessArticle
Bioeconomy—Spatial Requirements for Sustainable Development
Sustainability 2020, 12(5), 1877; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12051877 - 02 Mar 2020
Abstract
The implementation of the bioeconomy, i.e., the conversion of an economic system from fossil to biogenic, renewable resources, is seen as an important component of sustainable development by many bioeconomy strategies. What has hardly been taken into account and investigated are the spatial [...] Read more.
The implementation of the bioeconomy, i.e., the conversion of an economic system from fossil to biogenic, renewable resources, is seen as an important component of sustainable development by many bioeconomy strategies. What has hardly been taken into account and investigated are the spatial requirements for a sustainable transition to this new system. In order to clarify this, bioeconomy related strategies and policy papers were analyzed thematically. It was shown that spatially relevant issues are addressed to very different extents. Some strategies have a clear technological and economic orientation, while other documents point to the importance of the regional and local levels and the use of spatial planning measures to successfully and sustainably implement a bioeconomy. Overall, the picture emerged that many strategies are still a long way from mainstreaming Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as set out by the United Nations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Bioeconomy)
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Open AccessArticle
Policy Coherence and the Transition to a Bioeconomy: The Case of Ireland
Sustainability 2019, 11(24), 7247; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11247247 - 17 Dec 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Advancing a bioeconomy requires that policymakers understand how the design and coherence of public policy can contribute, or create barriers, to its development. Ireland’s first National Policy Statement on the Bioeconomy (February 2018) recognized the significance of policy coherence as a critical factor [...] Read more.
Advancing a bioeconomy requires that policymakers understand how the design and coherence of public policy can contribute, or create barriers, to its development. Ireland’s first National Policy Statement on the Bioeconomy (February 2018) recognized the significance of policy coherence as a critical factor in a successful transition to a bioeconomy. Qualitative document analysis was employed to assess the level of coherence across a range of relevant policy documents. As is the case with most other countries the key sub-sectors related to the bioeconomy in Ireland have independent policy documents for their own developmental process, with obvious potential for conflict. The results of the analysis indicated inconsistency across sectors, highlighting the requirement to update certain strategy documents in order to raise the level of cross-sectoral coherence. This process is essential in both avoiding a ‘silo’ mentality and enabling the concept of the bioeconomy and its associated objectives to become mainstreamed. The methodology employed in this research is easily transferable and should prove useful for other countries in transition to a bioeconomy to assess the strengths and weaknesses of relevant documents and identify where change is required. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Bioeconomy)
Open AccessArticle
Bioeconomy Transitions through the Lens of Coupled Social-Ecological Systems: A Framework for Place-Based Responsibility in the Global Resource System
Sustainability 2019, 11(20), 5705; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11205705 - 15 Oct 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Bioeconomy strategies in high income societies focus at replacing finite, fossil resources by renewable, biological resources to reconcile macro-economic concerns with climate constraints. However, the current bioeconomy is associated with critical levels of environmental degradation. As a potential increase in biological resource use [...] Read more.
Bioeconomy strategies in high income societies focus at replacing finite, fossil resources by renewable, biological resources to reconcile macro-economic concerns with climate constraints. However, the current bioeconomy is associated with critical levels of environmental degradation. As a potential increase in biological resource use may further threaten the capacity of ecosystems to fulfil human needs, it remains unclear whether bioeconomy transitions in high income countries are sustainable. In order to fill a gap in bioeconomy sustainability assessments, we apply an ontological lens of coupled social-ecological systems to explore critical mechanisms in relation to bioeconomy activities in the global resource system. This contributes to a social-ecological systems (SES)-based understanding of sustainability from a high income country perspective: the capacity of humans to satisfy their needs with strategies that reduce current levels of pressures and impacts on ecosystems. Building on this notion of agency, we develop a framework prototype that captures the systemic relation between individual human needs and collective social outcomes on the one hand (micro-level) and social-ecological impacts in the global resource system on the other hand (macro-level). The BIO-SES framework emphasizes the role of responsible consumption (for physical health), responsible production (to reduce stressors on the environment), and the role of autonomy and self-organisation (to protect the reproduction capacity of social-ecological systems). In particular, the BIO-SES framework can support (1) individual and collective agency in high income country contexts to reduce global resource use and related ecosystem impacts with a bioeconomy strategy, (2) aligning social outcomes, monitoring efforts and governance structures with place-based efforts to achieve the SDGs, as well as (3), advancing the evidence base and social-ecological theory on responsible bioeconomy transitions in the limited biosphere. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Bioeconomy)
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Open AccessArticle
Comparative Analysis between Hydrous Ethanol and Gasoline C Pricing in Brazilian Retail Market
Sustainability 2019, 11(17), 4719; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11174719 - 29 Aug 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
The global energy landscape is rapidly changing, including the transition to a low carbon economy and the use of liquid biofuel. The production of liquid biofuel has emerged as an alternative to the use of fossil fuels for purposes of energy conservation, carbon [...] Read more.
The global energy landscape is rapidly changing, including the transition to a low carbon economy and the use of liquid biofuel. The production of liquid biofuel has emerged as an alternative to the use of fossil fuels for purposes of energy conservation, carbon emission mitigation and agricultural development. In this article we study the co-movements between hydrous ethanol and gasoline C in the Brazilian retail market. A multi-scale cross correlation analysis was applied to the Average Retail Margin time series of hydrous ethanol for fifteen relevant retail markets in Brazil to analyze the competitiveness of hydrous ethanol towards gasoline C. The empirical results showed a remarkable different behavior between hydrous ethanol and gasoline C, for any time scale, regardless of geographical distance or regional differences. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Bioeconomy)
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Open AccessArticle
Bioeconomic Clusters—Background, Emergence, Localization and Modelling
Sustainability 2019, 11(17), 4611; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11174611 - 24 Aug 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Industrial Clusters, especially those based on biologically sourced materials and their derivative products, can play an important role in the global shift to more sustainable production methods and ecological economic systems. The concept of cluster, however, is difficult to define and study. This [...] Read more.
Industrial Clusters, especially those based on biologically sourced materials and their derivative products, can play an important role in the global shift to more sustainable production methods and ecological economic systems. The concept of cluster, however, is difficult to define and study. This paper presents quantitative methods based on Input-Output and Operations Research analysis to establish and plan cluster operations and complement that with qualitative reflections on the nature of these clusters. The purpose is to bring together both dimensions and demonstrate their complementarity, with social and policy aspects being as important considerations as techno-economic-driven ones. Using a case study, hypothetical clusters using numerical methods are created; the clusters produced by numerical methods point to and raise important issues related to the need to utilize qualitative analysis in conjunction to pure economic motives while designing/planning industrial clusters. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Bioeconomy)
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Open AccessArticle
A Path Transition Towards a Bioeconomy—The Crucial Role of Sustainability
Sustainability 2019, 11(11), 3005; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11113005 - 28 May 2019
Cited by 14
Abstract
The bioeconomy is a worldwide used strategy to cope with ecological, social, and economic sustainability challenges. However, we analyze current bioeconomy strategies and trends to point out potential sustainability conflicts and transition challenges. Our analysis shows that the bioeconomy is not sustainable per [...] Read more.
The bioeconomy is a worldwide used strategy to cope with ecological, social, and economic sustainability challenges. However, we analyze current bioeconomy strategies and trends to point out potential sustainability conflicts and transition challenges. Our analysis shows that the bioeconomy is not sustainable per se, as mere input substitution may entail welfare losses. Instead, it requires further debates and actions to avoid exacerbation of ecological and social strains. Sustainability has to be the key concept behind the bioeconomy and predominantly requires (1) sustainability of the resource base and (2) sustainability of processes and products, especially by (3) circular processes of material fluxes, not least to gain consumer acceptance for bio-based products. Otherwise, the bioeconomy would only entail the substitution of fossil resources for bio-based resources potentially lacking the generation of additional societal and ecological benefits and contribution to climate mitigation. As markets alone will not suffice to fulfil this path transition towards a sustainable bioeconomy, we argue that innovative governance is necessary to reduce competitive drawbacks compared to fossil resources (enabling function) and to secure ecological, social, and economic sustainability requirements (limiting function). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Bioeconomy)
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Open AccessArticle
Stakeholders’ Interests and Perceptions of Bioeconomy Monitoring Using a Sustainable Development Goal Framework
Sustainability 2019, 11(6), 1511; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11061511 - 13 Mar 2019
Cited by 16
Abstract
The bioeconomy as an industrial metabolism based on renewable resources is characterized by, not intrinsic, but rather potential benefits for global sustainability, depending on many factors and actors. Hence, an appropriate systematic monitoring of its development is vital and complexly linked to Sustainable [...] Read more.
The bioeconomy as an industrial metabolism based on renewable resources is characterized by, not intrinsic, but rather potential benefits for global sustainability, depending on many factors and actors. Hence, an appropriate systematic monitoring of its development is vital and complexly linked to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as diverse stakeholder expectations. To structure a framework of the important aspects of such a monitoring system, we conducted a series of stakeholder workshops to assess the relevance of SDGs for the bioeconomy. Our results show how the complexities of these issues are perceived by 64 stakeholders, indicating significant commonalities and differences among six SDGs, including specific interests, perceptions, and, in some cases, counterintuitive and contradictory issues. Eventually, the idea of a bioeconomy is a question of the perception of ends and means of a societal transformation toward holistic sustainability. Global implications like trade-offs, hunger, poverty, and inequalities are aspects of high relevance for monitoring of bioeconomy regions in which they actually do not seem to be substantial. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Bioeconomy)
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Open AccessArticle
A Re-Examination of the Structural Diversity of Biobased Activities and Regions across the EU
Sustainability 2018, 10(11), 4325; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10114325 - 21 Nov 2018
Cited by 6
Abstract
This study evaluates the performance of European Union (EU) member state biobased activities. More specifically, statistical clustering techniques, based on biobased sectors’ demand and supply driven multipliers, identify regional EU typologies of biobased sector performance. The aim is to establish sector-region combinations of [...] Read more.
This study evaluates the performance of European Union (EU) member state biobased activities. More specifically, statistical clustering techniques, based on biobased sectors’ demand and supply driven multipliers, identify regional EU typologies of biobased sector performance. The aim is to establish sector-region combinations of biobased driven economic growth. The study employs a consistent macroeconomic accounting dataset, known as a social accounting matrix (SAM). The dataset (dubbed BioSAM), is enriched with detailed accounts for agrifood activities, as well as further contemporary sources and uses of biomass. The results identify cases where biobased activities are potentially important engines of growth, although this result varies considerably by EU region. Confirming previous literature, the influence of biobased sectors is very much dominated by demand driven economic growth, whilst one-in-three biobased activities is defined as ‘key’. Examining the regional EU cluster typologies, the ‘Eastern and Mediterranean’ region exhibits the strongest biobased wealth generation, whilst weak biobased economic performance is observed in the ‘Mediterranean Islands and Luxembourg’ regional cluster. Finally, a comparison with previous studies tentatively confirms that structural change, accelerated by the financial crisis, has elevated the relative economy-wide contribution of biobased sectors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Bioeconomy)
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Open AccessArticle
Drumming the Barrels of Hope? Bioeconomy Narratives in the Media
Sustainability 2018, 10(11), 4278; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10114278 - 19 Nov 2018
Cited by 11
Abstract
Bioeconomy as one mode of the transition towards a more sustainable mode of production and consumption has been addressed in several policy fields. Bioeconomy has raised hope not only in the quest for a more sustainable future, but also offers new possibilities, especially [...] Read more.
Bioeconomy as one mode of the transition towards a more sustainable mode of production and consumption has been addressed in several policy fields. Bioeconomy has raised hope not only in the quest for a more sustainable future, but also offers new possibilities, especially in countries with vast natural resources. By using the Narrative Policy Framework, I assess the kinds of bioeconomy narratives promoted by the media and the future they suggest, for the case of Finland. Flexible concepts such as bioeconomy can be harnessed to promote different, and even contrasting, objectives. Besides growth-oriented promises, bioeconomy seems to simultaneously raise controversial questions related to techno-social path dependencies and the sustainability of natural resource use. The narratives seem also to lack roles for certain actor groups, such as citizens, which might challenge the legitimacy and, thus, the future of bioeconomy. The role of civil society should also be better addressed by scholars in the field, as it plays an important role in the sustainability of bioeconomy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Bioeconomy)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Recent Developments in Low iLUC Policies and Certification in the EU Biobased Economy
Sustainability 2020, 12(19), 8147; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12198147 - 02 Oct 2020
Abstract
The development of a sustainable biobased economy (BBE) in Europe is associated with several challenges. Amongst others, lessons learned from the development of the biofuel sector and the complex debate around land use change associated with a growing demand for biomass have to [...] Read more.
The development of a sustainable biobased economy (BBE) in Europe is associated with several challenges. Amongst others, lessons learned from the development of the biofuel sector and the complex debate around land use change associated with a growing demand for biomass have to be considered when developing BBE policies. In that regard, strategies to identify and verify feedstocks with low potential risks for direct and indirect land use change (iLUC) impacts are of specific importance. Complementing existing efforts to assess iLUC with modelling activities, the European Commission (EC) has proposed a risk-based approach, aiming to differentiate high and low iLUC risk biomass. Amongst others, different additionality measures can be used to produce certified biomass with low iLUC risk. However, a comprehensive overview and analysis of these additionality measures and the challenges related to their integration in an integer verification approach is still missing. Therefore, we analyse European Union (EU) policies dealing with iLUC, iLUC risk assessment studies, certification approaches, and iLUC modelling studies to identify and develop additionality practices potentially applicable in certification and to show how the potential application of the proposed measures could be realised and verified in practice. We identified five potential practices for low iLUC risk biomass production, which are likely to be used by market actors. For each practice, we identified methods for the determination of low iLUC risk feedstock and products. Finally, our review includes recommendations for follow-up activities towards the actual implementation of additionality measures in biomass certification schemes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Bioeconomy)
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Open AccessReview
Bio-Based Production Systems: Why Environmental Assessment Needs to Include Supporting Systems
Sustainability 2019, 11(17), 4678; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11174678 - 28 Aug 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
The transition to a bio-based economy is expected to deliver substantial environmental and economic benefits. However, bio-based production systems still come with significant environmental challenges, and there is a need for assessment methods that are adapted for the specific characteristics of these systems. [...] Read more.
The transition to a bio-based economy is expected to deliver substantial environmental and economic benefits. However, bio-based production systems still come with significant environmental challenges, and there is a need for assessment methods that are adapted for the specific characteristics of these systems. In this review, we investigated how the environmental aspects of bio-based production systems differ from those of non-renewable systems, what requirements these differences impose when assessing their sustainability, and to what extent mainstream assessment methods fulfil these requirements. One unique characteristic of bio-based production is the need to maintain the regenerative capacity of the system. The necessary conditions for maintaining regenerative capacity are often provided through direct or indirect interactions between the production system and surrounding “supporting” systems. Thus, in the environmental assessment, impact categories affected in both the primary production system and the supporting systems need to be included, and impact models tailored to the specific context of the study should be used. Development in this direction requires efforts to broaden the system boundaries of conventional environmental assessments, to increase the level of spatial and temporal differentiation, and to improve our understanding of how local uniqueness and temporal dynamics affect the performance of the investigated system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Bioeconomy)
Open AccessReview
Straw Utilization in China—Status and Recommendations
Sustainability 2019, 11(6), 1762; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11061762 - 23 Mar 2019
Cited by 23
Abstract
As the world’s largest grain producer, China’s straw yield was 700 million tonnes in 2014. With a national utilization rate of 80% in 2015, there is still a large amount of straw burned in open-field, resulting in air pollution and a reduction in [...] Read more.
As the world’s largest grain producer, China’s straw yield was 700 million tonnes in 2014. With a national utilization rate of 80% in 2015, there is still a large amount of straw burned in open-field, resulting in air pollution and a reduction in the quantity available as a source of bioenergy. This paper conducts a literature review of success stories and major challenges in comprehensive straw utilization in and out of China. It is noted that nationwide long-term feasible and sustainable straw utilization at a high rate is a highly complex operation, involving most societal sectors, many people and facilities often at different regions. Scenarios were analyzed to estimate the energy potential and air emission reductions China would accomplish in 2020 by converting an additional 5 or 10% of straw-yield to biofuel. Currently, the approach to control straw burning in China is primarily administrative, relying heavily on prohibition and penalties, inconsistent across policy areas and geography, and lacking in long-term planning. Consequently, the effectiveness of the current approach is limited. The main cause of burning is a lack of infrastructure, effective preventive measures, and viable alternatives. Recommendations aimed at promoting a circular bio-economy around using crop straw as resources were provided, including improving straw utilization rates and reducing open-field burning. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Bioeconomy)
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