ICABR 2022 – the International Consortium on Applied Bioeconomy Research – took place last week at the University of Bologna, Italy from July 5 to July 8.
During the ICABR conference last week, BioMonitor organised an in-person session to present its results to stakeholders and researchers.
Dusan Drabik, Wageningen University & Research
The session focused on future bioeconomy policy in Europe. Speakers included Robert M’barek (Joint Research Centre, EC), George Philippidis (Agrifood Research and Technology Centre of Aragón), and Myrna van Leeuwen (Wageningen Economic Research). Other members of the BioMonitor consortium, including the Coordinator Justus Wesseler, presented their contributions in other sessions of the conference.
Robert M’barek, Joint Research Centre, EC
Bioeconomy related research and innovation (R&I) is a priority for most of the European countries and regions; but why do we need the bioeconomy? It is well known now that the bioeconomy is a key sector of the EU’s economy, and is one of the cornerstones for the sustainable economic growth of the 27. The bioeconomy will help modernise and strengthen the EU industrial base, creating new value chains and greener, more cost-effective industrial processes, while protecting biodiversity and the environment. In Europe, regional bioeconomy ecosystems are centred on the typical regional players, including governments and public administration, enterprises and representatives of sectoral groups and commercial intermediates, as well as universities, institutes engaged in science and technology.
Bioeconomy stakeholders and the Green Deal challenges
Clusters are crucial for bringing together bioeconomy stakeholders. This is particularly so in heavily industrialised areas but also more frequently in rural ones. In the latter, Rural Innovation Partnerships links local action groups, operational groups and regional innovation systems. This helps promote innovation in the most prominent subsectors such as agriculture, fisheries, forestry and food.
George Philippidis, Agrifood Research and Technology Centre of Aragón
“The challenges of the Green Deal and the goal of European Climate Neutrality by 2050 have enhanced industrial competitiveness, preservation of bio-diversity, a sustainable agrifood system and an operable circular economy”, said George Philippidis, and the transition is based on three main levels: energy efficiency, energy carriers turned toward electricity (away from liquid fossil fuels), and decarbonisation of energy system bio-renewables.
The BioMonitor Toolbox
BioMonitor has developed a toolbox for use beyond the project. This includes models on how the EU bioeconomy operates and how the bioeconomy can influence Europe’s sustainability goals. Myrna van Leeuwen presented new tools developed to fill gaps in bioeconomy analysis: AGMEMOD and BioMAT, about the agricultural usage for materials – tracking the available biomass and making projections for markets of bio-based materials. The BioMonitor tools can be combined or used as stand-alone.
Myrna van Leeuwen, Wageningen Economic Research
Stronger development of the bioeconomy will help the EU accelerate progress towards a circular and low-carbon economy. We are moving in the right direction but we need to be very smart by adopting new policies on the line.
The war in Ukraine – implications for the EU economy.
At the conference, BioMonitor coordinator Justus Wesseler chaired a session entitled “The War in Ukraine – Implications for the EU Economy”. The event shed light on the war and on Ukraine’s economic situation, including the dramatic drop in exports of wheat and other products.
The biggest problem: export logistics, with monthly earnings from Ukraine being really low: ports are blocked, there are only 10 rail routes suitable for exporting wheat, and crop prices are really high.
What’ the outlook? Substantially, there will continue to be a very low level of production, lower prices, and higher costs, reduced profitability, financial distress, and problems with logistics and ports. The Ukraine Recovery Conference took place in the beginning of July, which highlighted a strong need for funding and a programme of growth for the country’s agriculture. War is today the biggest obstacle to the sustainability of the bioeconomy, the environment, food security, and of course people’s safety.