In September 2019, the board members of the World Bioeconomy Forum (WCBEF) produced the WCBEF Declaration 2019 to cement the board’s agreement about the important role the sustainable circular bioeconomy sector can play in the efforts to address climate change.
A year has passed, the WCBEF has seen that the circular bioeconomy sector has made some tangible progress and breakthrough innovations in the sustainable chemical and plastic industries in particular. Since 2019, the WCBEF has also opened better communications with the bioeconomy sector players in South America, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand, enabling better understanding of the local issues and challenges to help design a shared strategy.
In 2020 we have also seen major global setbacks, including massive bushfires in Australia, in Siberia and the COVID-19 pandemic. Many scientists have reported that ongoing human activities in nature destruction, from deforestation and irresponsible agricultural practices to rapid urbanization in addition to the overall impacts of the climate change crisis, have created a suitable environment for new zoonoses to emerge.
We need to explore the roles that the sustainable circular bioeconomy, and other key stakeholders, can play to help find solutions.
1. Support and use the potential of the Circular Bioeconomy worldwide and regionally to better achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Support and contribute to fully explore the potentials of bioeconomies worldwide to achieve the SDG’s and the Paris Agreement targets and facilitate the operation of circular economies mainly on regional and local levels.
- Pay special attention to the opportunities of a forestry-based bioeconomy in particular with respect to combating global climate changes, preventing and fighting forest fires, preservation of natural resources, improving biodiversity and also delivering innovative bio-based materials for industrial and consumer products and applications.
2. Actively support the Circular Bioeconomy to play a key role in the emerging economy post COVID-19
People are becoming more aware of the links between zoonotic diseases, climate change, deforestation, and interaction with wildlife. Post COVID-19, we cannot continue “business as usual”, we need to:
- Propagate the potentials of bio-based economies to become part of the post COVID-19 recovery activities particularly relevant when dealing with health issues, including preventing and healing diseases. Also animal, and plant biodiversity and health, focusing on food and feed safety, new packaging and bioplastics, as fundamental conditions for healthy well-being on a healthy planet.
- In this respect identify new Corona related bio-based value chains, fully exploiting a circular economy and rethinking relevant institutional, legal, and social frameworks.
3. Corporate leadership to advance sustainable strategies
- Sustainability to become a mainstream value in companies’ business practices, production processes and product properties.
- Diversify business through the greater use of sustainable resources to manufacture and produce new materials that will displace fossil-carbon-based products.
- Apply cross sectoral collaboration to support bioeconomy value chains, forming partnerships and ecosystems will move the circular bioeconomy further and faster.
4. Transformation to circular bioeconomy requires sustainable investments
- Apply reliable long-term investment frameworks with emphasis on greening rather than just de-risking will create champions in the bioeconomy.
- Ask for the financial world to create preferential financial plans to endorse and speed up investments in circular bioeconomy projects and activities.
- Reinforcing public funds to escalate development programmes to enhance bioproduct market launches.
5. By a preference on bio-based and sustainable feedstocks in product and service design the Circular Bioeconomy creates renewable, recyclable and biodegradable products into the marketplace.
- These approaches will allow to move to a circular economy of materials with full use of sustainable carbon and slowly replacing fossil-based carbon by bio-based
- Use of fibre-based natural materials, wood and cellulose fibres for long-lasting applications with potential of circular use at the end of life to lead to the development of sustainable materials of the future.
- Production of bio-based chemicals and polymers with high performance functionality for long-term use, with full recycling at the end of life. In the transition period this can be combined in recycling systems of materials from fossil-based or CO2-based carbon.
6. Renewable carbon is one of the keys to a bio-based Circular Economy
There are three sources of renewable carbon: from sources which can be (re)grown (biosphere), (re)captured (technosphere and atmosphere) or (re)cycled (technosphere). Renewable carbon entails all carbon sources that avoid or substitute the use of any additional fossil carbon from the geosphere. Renewable carbon can come from the biosphere, atmosphere or technosphere – but not from the geosphere. Renewable carbon circulates between biosphere, atmosphere or technosphere, creating a carbon circular economy.
- The biomass used in renewable carbon breaks down into either primary biomass straight from fields and forests or biomass derived from biogenic waste and side streams, e.g. generated by the agriculture and forestry sectors, the food, feed and chemicals industries, the production of wood and paper as well as by private households. Utilising this kind of “organic waste” in a sophisticated manner is key to a bio-based circular economy
7. Sustain the attraction of the Circular Bioeconomy for next generations
- Young people are instinctively inspired by the prospects of the circular bioeconomy. We must nurture that inspiration with factual knowledge and early avenues for engagement.
- The next generation is capable of undergoing the radical transformation of our current economic system. This realisation must cross national and cultural boundaries.
- Engaging in the circular bioeconomy is equally vital in both urban and rural settings. Attracting young talent back to rural settings is needed for success.
8. Circular Bioeconomy Education made available for all generations
- Elementary through to university educational programs worldwide must contextualize the circular bioeconomy for their regions. They must also allow room for creativity and intellectual freedom to rethink basic processes and products.
- Adult education for new and displaced workers is critical as new industries emerge and unsustainable industries sunset.
- The circular bioeconomy would gradually emerge as an own major, which could be studied in various schools and universities
About the World Bioeconomy Forum (WCBEF)
The WCBEF is a think-tank initiative which provides a platform for key stakeholders of the Circular Bioeconomy to share ideas and promote bio-based responsible innovations to replace and supersede non-renewable based industries, products and services to achieve a more sustainable economy while mitigating climate change.