Latest News & Events
Article about carbon footprint of Brazil’s soy exports published in ZEFnews
September 14, 2020. The latest issue of ZEFNews #41 features a piece of the recent STRIVE publication quantifying the carbon footprint of Brazil’s soy exports under a spatially-explicit Life Cycle Assessment approach (read page 9)
Press releases about recently published study in Brazil
July 16, 2020. The study “Spatially-explicit footprints of agricultural commodities: Mapping carbon emissions embodied in Brazil’s soy exports”, which was published in “Global Environmental Change”, highlights how demand for Brazilian soy by Europe and China is stoking deforestation, thereby increasing carbon emissions, especially in Brazil’s Cerrado savanna biome, followed by the Amazon rainforest.
In the blog of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) of the USA it is said that “our study puts all the pieces together for estimating impacts from trade in Brazilian soy from a global perspective”.
The prestigious magazine Mongabay reported: “Mongabay highlights how results from our recent study can help both nations and industries to reduce deforestation in Brazil and Greenhouse Gas emissions globally, while calling for action to protect Cerrado savanna”.
Interviews with experts and evaluation of scientific publications about the concept of bio-economy
May 22, 2020. Interviews with experts and evaluation of scientific publications indicate that expectations of bio-economic innovations are often too high.
The term bio-economy is mentioned more frequently in political strategy papers. For example, Germany has a national bio-economy strategy that has just been revised. However, many countries in Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America also see the bio-economy as the one solution to a variety of problems caused by an economy that is growing at the expense of nature. Dr. Lisa Biber-Freudenberger, senior researcher at the Center for Development Research (ZEF) at the University of Bonn, has interviewed 200 experts per online survey and evaluated specialist literature to investigate the extent to which the hope of the bio-economy as a “panacea” is justified. In addition, she researched what opportunities the concept of bio-economy offers as a development strategy in a global context and where the challenges lie.
But what is ‘bio-economy’ actually? There are different definitions circulating from international, national, academic, political governmental and non-governmental organizations. In short, bio-economy encompasses different sectors that rely on the use of biological organisms (animals and plants) and biological processes. These can be both the processing of biomass, e.g. for the production of bioenergy, and biological processes, e.g. in the case of bacteria that produce insulin or play a role in the production of bioplastics. Advocates of the development and patenting of such technologies and processes stress the opportunities for a sustainable economy. Politicians here as well as in the global South often hope that the bio-economy will provide the ‘holy grail’: economic development and increasing prosperity for all without negative effects on nature and the poorest people in the world.
What is the scientific perspective? Dr. Biber-Freudenberger emphasizes: “Not all bio-economies are the same. The opportunities and risks for sustainable development must always be considered on a case-by-case basis. However, our online survey of 200 experts and a comprehensive evaluation of scientific publications showed that expectations of bio-economic innovations are often – especially at the beginning – very high and have to be adjusted later on”. Dr. Biber-Freudenberger believes that this is mainly due to the fact that the majority of innovations and their effects are initially tested in laboratories and in controlled environments only. However, if these are then implemented under real conditions and disseminated more widely, this often leads to negative side effects that were previously difficult to foresee. “Our study has shown that we can expect negative side-effects especially in the area of social impacts, e.g. in the area of gender equality. These cannot be investigated in laboratories beforehand and therefore the overall picture of a bio-economic innovation is initially better,” explains Dr. Biber-Freudenberger.
This conclusion is also evident when looking at different bio-economic sectors: While the expectations for positive effects of bioenergy have decreased considerably over the last few years, biopharmaceuticals, for example, continue to be very popular. The study emphasizes that in the context of technology impact assessments, the opportunities and risks of bio-economic innovations for sustainable development must be critically analyzed. Interactions between supply and demand dynamics must be taken into account to ensure that bio-economic growth remains within ecological boundaries and aims at socially inclusive economic development. Only then can it be ensured that the bio-economy does not bring more harm than good.
Read the full article here: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/sd.2072
Special Issue in Environmental Research Letters published
February 13, 2020. The issue “Focus on Leakage: Informing Land-Use Governance in a Tele-coupled World” explores new ways to put tools and data to work towards improving our understanding of direct and indirect land-use change caused by governance interventions.
Governing land use to achieve sustainable outcomes is challenging, because land systems manifest complex land use spillovers – i.e. processes by which land use changes or direct interventions in land use (e.g., policy, program, new technologies) in one place have impacts on land use in another place. The ERL issue “Focus on Leakage: Informing Land-Use Governance in a Tele-coupled World” builds on discussions in an international expert workshop conducted in Berlin in November 2017 to explore innovative ways to improve our understanding of how governance interventions, new technologies and other factors can affect land-use change both directly and indirectly through spillovers. This editorial starts by clarifying the definitions and relationships between land-use spillover, indirect land use change (iLUC) – a form of spillover where land use change in one place is caused by land use change in another place – leakage – a form of land use spillover, which is caused by an environmental policy (e.g., a conservation or restoration intervention), and the spillover reduces the overall benefits and effectiveness of this intervention -, and displacement processes. We then use this terminology to summarize the individual contributions of this special issue and conclude with lessons learned as well as directions for future research.
Press release of the University of Bonn:
4th International BioSC Symposium, November 18-19, 2019 in Cologne
Natalie Laibach and Neus Escobar will be presenting two posters on the progress of STRIVE component 2 at the 4th International BioSC Symposium which will be held at Maternushaus (Cologne) on November 18-19th. Good opportunity to catch up on the latest findings about the sustainability of bio-based plastics and Key Enabling Technologies implementing cascading uses and circularity.
SETAC Helsinki Session Summaries published
The summary of the session “Bio-Based Industries: sustainability benefits of technological innovation and closed-loop approaches across supply chains”, co-chaired by Neus Escobar, has recently been published in the July 2019 Issue of SETAC Globe, as part of the SETAC Europe 29th Annual Meeting, held from 26–30 May 2019 in Helsinki:
UNFCCC side event on “Ensuring Climate Action in Forests is Stable and Resilient”, June 19, 2019 in Bonn
This event will discuss why it is important to prioritize the protection and restoration of primary forests for climate change mitigation and adaptation and takes place on the occasion of a SBSTTA (Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice) meeting of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This SBSTTA meeting will include discussion on whether forest climate action will be included in market mechanisms; whether the important role of indigenous people and biodiversity and ecosystem integrity in delivering robust climate outcomes will be considered; and whether actions with perverse outcome for communities, ecosystem integrity and the climate are avoided. Improving the rights of indigenous communities and benefit sharing will play a role as well as debates about wood-based bioenergy production and infrastructure development in forests.
Date: June 19, 2019 | 11:00 h – 15:00 h
Venue: ZEF, Genscherallee 3, 53113 Bonn. Right Conference Room.
More information: here.
13th International Conference of the European Society of Ecological Economics, June 18-21, 2019 in Turku, Finland
Neus Escobar will take part in the 13th International Conference of the European Society of Ecological Economics to be held in Turku (Finland) from 18 to 21 June 2019. She will specifically present their ongoing work on estimating “Induced Land Use Change and emissions from major bioplastics” in the special session on “Advancing a quantitative perspective on sustainability issues related to bioeconomy transitions in the social-ecological system”, in which the project STRIVE is directly involved.
For more information visit:
Workshop “Which policy for transformations in the bioeconomy”, May 23, 2019 in Berlin
STRIVE senior researcher Jan Janosch Förster participated in the high-level workshop “Which policy for transformations in the bioeconomy” on May 23, 2019 at the Frauenhofer Institut in Berlin.
Participants from policy, industry, research and other actors from civil society engaged in a discussion on role of policy in processes of transformation associated with the Bioeconomy.
SETAC Europe 29th Meeting on sustainable societies, May 26-30, 2019 in Helsinki, Finland
Bio-based industries: sustainability benefits of technological innovation and closed loop approaches across supply chains
Neus Escobar and Natalie Laibach took part in the 29th Annual Meeting of SETAC Europe in Helsinki (Finland) on 26-30 May 2019. They presented their scientific contribution “Sustainability check for bio-based technologies: a LCA review” in the session “Bio-based industries: sustainability benefits of technological innovation and closed loop approaches across supply chains”, which was co-chaired by Neus Escobar together with Daniel Garrain (Spain), Diego Marazza (Italy) and Tarmo Räty (Finland).
The session explored, from a Life Cycle Assessment perspective, methodological issues and technological challenges for the implementation of circularity principles in bio-based production.
The scientific programme can be found in full in the following link:
Interview with Neus Escobar about study on bioplastics
An interview with Neus Escobar on March 18, 2019, has been published following their study on land use mediated effects of bioplastics based on a Computable General Equilibrium assessment.
Read interview (in german) at: