Getting the bioeconomy going
The Commission established a knowledge centre dedicated to this vast dimension field
22 July, 2017
A new Bioeconomy Knowledge Centre that sets together all pieces of the puzzle of this vast area and will fully prop up policymakers and stakeholders with science-based evidence, was kicked off on 20 July by the Joint Research Centre, the Commission's in-house science service, in cooperation with DG Research and Innovation. The centre is configured as an online platform that not only generates knowledge, but will bring together, structure and make accessible knowledge from a wide range of scientific disciplines and sources on the bioeconomy, the sustainable production of renewable bioresources and their shift into valuable products.
At the opening event was held a discussion among officials from the Commission, the EP, the CoR, industry and civil society on how improved knowledge on bioeconomy can help policymakers better design related EU policies now and looking decades ahead. They also accented on the gaps and challenges that still exist for evidence-based bioeconomy policymaking.
The fact that two EU commissioners opened the event essentially speaks about the importance the Commission is putting on the topic. The commissioner, who holds the education, culture, youth and sport portfolio and is also responsible for the Joint Research Centre, Tibor Navracsics, pointed out that the Bioeconomy Knowledge Centre builds on the Joint Research Centre's expertise in knowledge management, offering policy makers relevant information in a timely manner and a format that is easy to use. “It is another important step in further strengthening the sound evidence base we need to tackle the societal challenges facing the EU,” he also noted.
His colleague Carlos Moedas, commissioner for research, science and innovation, underlined that the launch of the Bioeconomy Knowledge Centre marks an important step in bringing the different policy areas of the bioeconomy closer together.
Already being a significant slice on the EU economy pie chart, the bioeconomy has potential for growth through innovation in agriculture, forestry, bioenergy and biomass, chemicals, materials and waste management among others. The new centre will support the Commission in reviewing the Bioeconomy Strategy of 2012, which has to be updated in view of the developments like COP21 Paris agreement, the UN sustainable development goals and the Circular Economy Package.
Vladimir Sucha, Director-General of the Commission’s Joint Research Centre commented for Europost that the added value of the knowledge centre is that it will be a one-stop-shop for data, information and knowledge on bioeconomy. Stating that bioeconomy is a composition of different policies and different scientific fields, he explained that “if we only take one dimension, so then we are very likely to make a mistake.” The centre is gathering all pieces of information and collecting them, giving access to people who are going to decide. If we decide that we are going to use crop production for biofuels and we are only looking at the decrease of CO2 emissions, by doing this step we may cause another problem with the food security, Vladimir Sucha warned adding that the whole issue should be taken together and a well informed decision should be made. To support well informed decision making process is the main added value of the centre, he opined. The “virtual hub” will be supported by scientists but it will be relying on the huge virtual network inside the Commission and across the all EU countries.
EU bioeconomy represents a huge field with employment of 18.6 million people and turnover of €2.2 trillion. But there is a huge dimension which is going to the waste and if we can bring the added value and to use within the circular economy the biomass in much better way obviously there is a huge potential also in the future, because it is fully recyclable, fully circular and fully renewable. As it was said during the discussion, we need to know that we are not cutting more trees than we are growing trees, otherwise it is not sustainable, the Joint Research Centre chief specified conceding that “if we keep the balance we can move forward and have products with a lot of added value.”