Experiences in implementing the Five Principles were discussed by government representatives from three continents, private sector, and the IEA.
The international crisis related to COVID-19 has heavily impacted bioenergy in the short term through a double shock of price and demand, with the sector requiring attention to avoid lasting damage.
The crisis has also brought to light the need for strong economic recovery programmes across many sectors, and several countries are considering the opportunity to build back better, including sustainable development and environmental considerations as an integral part of recovery packages.
The twenty Biofuture Platform Member Countries share a vision for a low carbon sustainable bioeconomy, and at this time they recognise the urgent need to support the sector in the short term, but also to embed the low carbon bioeconomy in broad economic recovery programs for long-term growth and success. As a way to facilitate consideration of policies and programs, they have put forward five non-binding core Biofuture Principles for post-COVID bioeconomy recovery and acceleration.
Featuring speakers from the International Energy Agency (IEA), the governments of Canada, France and India, as well as Neste, one of the world’s leaders in advanced biofuels, a Biofuture Summit II / BBEST2020-21 webinar held today has gone through the five Principles and looked at current and future applications at the national level. The main take-aways were:
– The world can ill afford a slump in the sustainable low carbon bioeconomy growth, as it is a key solution to be deployed for the global transition. Yet, COVID-19 has provoked just that in some countries and subsectors, with the IEA projecting a double digit decrease in biofuels production for 2020, the first decrease in more than two decades;
– The five Principles were considered a very important guidance to countries at the current juncture in order to reverse this slump and accelerate the bioeconomy. “Do not backtrack” (principle 1) was a point stressed by all of the speakers, as was the rewarding of sustainability (principle 5).
– The bioeconomy is a solution not only for decarbonizing difficult sectors, especially transport and industry, but can also be a key driver for economic recovery post-COVID, due to its very labor-intensive nature. It is, therefore, a bright example of a “green recovery” sector. Accelerating the sustainable bioeconomy has been linked to, among other positive effects, helping to curb or mitigate unwanted and uncontrolled economic migration from rural areas to cities, by helping to create value and jobs in the fields.
– The single most important element for a sustainable recovery with “Bio” is a stable, predictable, and enabling policy framework that can address the specific challenges and particularities of the sustainable low carbon bioeconomy, combined with targeted action to remove roadblocks at different links of the production and value chain.