What is the definition of bioeconomy? Is it the same as the circular economy? How important is bioeconomy for environmental protection and to tackle climate change?

Simple Bioeconomy Definition

Bioeconomy can be seen as a knowledge-based production and use of natural/biological resources, together with biological processes and laws, that allow providing economy goods and services in an environmentally-friendly way. According to the EBCD, bioeconomy has a climate change mitigation potential between 1 billion and 2.5 billion tons of CO2 equivalent per year by 2030.

Bioeconomy: Official Definition From The European Commission Research And Innovation

The European Commission states bioeconomy comprises those parts of the economy that use renewable biological resources from land and sea – such as crops, forest, fish, animals, and micro-organisms – to produce food, materials and energy.

Bioeconomy: Official Definition According to The White House’s Bioeconomy Blueprint (2012)

According to Birner’s paper citing the White House’s National Bioeconomy Blueprint: bioeconomy is one based on the use of research and innovation in the biological sciences to create economic activity and public benefit. Birner further adds that the U.S. bioeconomy is all around us: new drugs and diagnostics for improved human health, higher-yielding food crops, emerging biofuels to reduce dependence on oil, and biobased chemical intermediates, to name just a few.

Bioeconomy As A Way To Boost Sustainable Economic Growth

The European Commission defends the importance of bioeconomy as a way to stimulate the economic growth of developed economies. It states bioeconomy is meant to reduce the dependence on natural resources, transform manufacturing, promote sustainable production of renewable resources from land, fisheries and aquaculture and their conversion into food, feed, fiber, bio-based products, and bio-energy while growing new jobs and industries.

Bioeconomy: From A Resources Perspective To An Innovative Approach

The term bioeconomy was first explored as a means of substituting resources. In particular, bioeconomy was seen as the way through which oil, whose reserves we presumably running out, could be replaced by alternatives such as biomass or other chemistry processes. However, since these assumptions were inaccurate, at least for the very short team, and the price of oil didn’t rise. As a consequence, the bet on bioeconomy processes didn’t develop as was expected since it wasn’t financially interesting enough.

A few years later, however, bioeconomy reconquered its value in the global economic sphere. And because of the rising concerns about climate change and the need to reduce carbon emissions, replacing fossil fuels became again a priority. Only this time, bioeconomy isn’t just seen as a way of replacing resources but rather as a solution to the problem via biotechnology innovation. In this way, by aligning industrial processes with nature’s cycles, it’s expected that efficiency increases and waste is eliminated. Because indeed, in Nature, the waste of one kingdom is used by another kingdom and the principle of minimum energy waste and maximum efficiency is always there.

Benefits Of The Bioeconomy

Using some of the sources linked above, together with information from the IIIEE, we found some of the main advantages of the bioeconomy to be:

  • – It is an open and innovative approach that involves the collaboration of different stakeholders, fostering dialogue and cooperation at a global scale;
  • – Bioeconomy can help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions;
  • – Decreasing the dependence on fossil resources by helping to restructure energy and food production is another advantage of bioeconomy;
  • – Bioeconomy is connected to wiser management of natural resources;
  • – It promotes research across disciplines and borders;
  • – Has the potential to create employment in both urban and rural settings.

What’s The Difference Between Circular Economy And Bioeconomy?

According to Giampietro from Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, circular economy is the “what” – the result to be achieved (the desirable outcome capable of decoupling the use of resources from natural resources), whereas, bioeconomy is the “how”(what type of biophysical processes should be enhanced to achieve the expected result).

In this way, and according to the Communiqué of the Global Bioeconomy Summit, the principles of a sustainable bioeconomy and the principles of a circular economy need to walk hand in hand. This “would involve systemic approaches across sectors, particularly innovation policy measures that aim at optimizing bioeconomy value networks and minimizing waste and losses”, Birner says.

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