As Europe recovers from the human tragedy and economic crisis of Covid-19, the need for secure jobs is greater than ever.
European policymakers and businesses are right to focus on creating a green recovery that supports our climate and biodiversity objectives while enabling a just transition to a more sustainable economic model.
The bioeconomy – from agriculture and forestry, to food and feed, to bio-based materials, fuels and chemicals, to bio-based waste – will play a large role in this recovery. Today, the bioeconomy employs around 18 million Europeans, around 9% of the total workforce, and adds €600 billion of economic value.
The bioeconomy has the potential to generate even greater value, even greater environmental benefits, and even larger employment opportunities.
As an example, for agriculture, technology developments like precision agriculture and sustainable fertilisation could mean a 48% increase in production per hectare for wheat, and a 69% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. If we improve our forest management practices, we can double its carbon absorbing capacity while creating greater economic value and more jobs. The bioeconomy can help decarbonise hard-to-abate sectors such as shipping, aviation and heavy industry before 2030, when electrification can first be expected to make significant impact.
However, to reap these benefits, we need the right policy framework in place. Under the umbrella of the Europe Delivers programme, our team has been working with leading partners across the bioeconomy value chain, including Scania, Avril, Lantmännen, Neste and Novozymes to create a position paper and a communications programme beginning to outline the policy changes needed to fully unlock the potential of the bioeconomy and contribute to a better recovery for Europe.
This is only the beginning. It signals the start of a broader initiative to support a larger contribution from the bioeconomy to the European Green Deal and the Paris Agreement. Our aim is to incubate demonstration projects, build awareness and increase policy support towards the bioeconomy in Europe and the benefits it can provide.