“The bioeconomy can turn algae into fuel, recycle plastic, convert waste into new furniture or clothing or transform industrial by-products into bio-based fertilisers. It has the potential to generate 1 million new green jobs by 2030” stated the European Commission.
This is the starting point of a new bioeconomy strategy which has at its core circularity and sustainability and which will drive the renewal of our industries, the modernisation of our primary production system, the protection of the environment and biodiversity.
To address these challenges, the EU new Bioeconomy Strategy sets 14 concrete actions in three key areas.
1 Scaling up and strengthening the bio-based sectors
Action1.1 The competitiveness of our industrial base relies mainly on a fast development and deployment of sustainable and circular bio-based solutions. In this view, mobilising private and public stakeholders in research, demonstration and deployment of bio-based solutions can be instrumental in the development of new bio-based value chains. This should result in a toolbox of solutions to process biomass into bio-based products.
Action1.2 A targeted financial instrument, the Circular Bioeconomy Thematic Investment Platform, allocating 100 million, will be deployed by the European Commission, in addition to research and innovation grants under Horizon 2020. This measure will limit risks for private investments in sustainable solutions and will be in line with current and future initiatives, such as the Capital Markets Union, the InvestEU Programme, the Common Agricultural Policy and the ETS Innovation Fund.
Action1.3 The bioeconomy industry needs to have an equal footing with market and regulatory conditions than fossil-based industries. This action will help to identify gaps affecting bio-based innovation and to define if existing standards are appropriate for the bio-based industry.
Action1.4 Reliable and comparable environmental performance information and their application to environmental oriented policy instruments are indispensable to ensure the market introduction and to increase the consumer confidence. Promotion and development of standards, which can serve to verify the products’ properties, as a basis for existing voluntary labels, also need to be addressed. Action1.5 This will also support the development of new sustainable biorefineries and confirm the type and estimated potential, currently estimated being around 300 new biorefineries.
Action1.6 The key actors in the plastics value chain will be mobilised in order to support the development of substitutes to fossil resources. This will channel the potential of the bioeconomy to contribute to tackling plastic pollution in European seas and oceans, and in inland waters, and to restore water quality and ecosystems.
2. Rapidly deploying bioeconomies across Europe
Action 2.1 A Strategic Deployment Agenda will be developed providing a long-term vision on pathways to deploy and scale up the bioeconomy in a sustainable and circular manner. This will include food and farming systems, tackling food waste, losses and by-products (including nutrient recycling), resilience, aquaculture production, developing new chemicals, products, processes and value chains for bio-based-markets, opportunities for forestry as a raw material supplier, exploiting the potential of ocean farming, algae and other marine resources.
Action2.2 In order to develop the agenda and increase the coherence between the policy framework and the financing activities at regional level, five pilot actions will be implemented:
- A Blue Bioeconomy Pilot will unlock the potential of blue bioeconomy approaches in coastal areas and islands and will be linked to the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund;
- A Pilot to better link national bioeconomy strategies and national strategic plans under the Common Agricultural Policy;
- The Urban Bioeconomies Pilot which will enable 10 European cities to use organic waste as a valuable resource for the production of bio-based products. Brownfields and application of circular-bioeconomy processes and technologies within urban areas are specifically addressed;
- A Pilot on carbon farming encouraging Member States to establish a fund to buy carbon credits from farmers and forest owners who implement specific projects aimed at increasing soil and biomass carbon sequestration and/or reducing emissions in the livestock sector or that are related to fertilizer use;
- Living labs will be set up to develop and test place-based innovations, adopting ecological approaches and circularity in primary production and food systems.
Action 2.3 In order to ensure that all territories of the Union have the opportunity to develop their bioeconomy potential, an EU bioeconomy policy support facility will be set up under Horizon 2020, with the scope to support the development of national and regional bioeconomy strategies, including remote areas and candidate and accession countries.
Action 2.4 Education and skills need to be adapted to the emerging bioeconomy approaches and new value chains.
3. Protecting the ecosystem and understanding the ecological limitations of the bioeconomy
Action 3.1 Collecting more data, generating better information and systemic analysis of data and information will be essential to an enhanced understanding of bioeconomy areas. Action 3.2 A EU-wide, internationally coherent monitoring system will be established to track the progress towards a sustainable, circular bioeconomy in Europe and to underpin related policy areas. Action 3.3 Knowledge gained will be used to provide voluntary guidance for operating the bioeconomy within safe ecological limits.
The measures are expected to be launched in 2019.
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