Special Issue "Sustainable Bioeconomy"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2019.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Deniz Koca
E-Mail 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

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1700 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

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 (9 papers)

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Research

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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
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
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
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 5
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 1
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 5
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
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
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 4
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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