International Workshop of the Volkswagen Foundation in cooperation with the IACGB
"Building the global and local bioeconomies – Opportunity for shaping the economic and social transformation and addressing environmental crises"
Under this title current global bioeconomy strategies and concepts were presented and discussed at the International Workshop of the Volkswagen Foundation in cooperation with the International Advisory Council on Global Bioeconomy (IACGB) on 26 and 27 June in Hannover, Germany.
The sustainable bioeconomy has become a global strategic movement and involves transforming the economy and the innovation landscapes. It utilizes natural resources and is an opportunity and a necessary building block for strategies to phase out fossil fuels. It is cross-sectoral and thus a unifying element of sustainable economic cycles with impacts in almost all industries and areas.
In two days of intensive exchange, forty bioeconomy experts from Africa, the Americas, Asia Pacific, and Europe including twenty-seven members from the IACGB identified and discussed the latest developments, challenges and barriers in the growing development of global and local sustainable bioeconomies.
After a warm welcome from the IACGB by Christine Lang and Joachim von Braun, Germany, the first session of the workshop was introduced by its chair, Órlaith Ní Choncubhair, Ireland. In Session 1 - “Bioeconomy’s global role and impact in today’s political, economic and ecological landscape” six members of the IACGB reported on the bioeconomy strategies and activities in their countries. Mary Maxon, USA, presented the strategies and the new roadmap of the US bioeconomy, followed by Wataru Mizunashi’s bioeconomy report from Japan. Julius Ecuru from Kenya informed about the East African bioeconomy strategy. In the second part of Session 1 Lucia Pittaluga from Uruguay gave insights into food systems and their role in the circular bioeconomy, while Marcelo Regunaga, Argentina, reported on the bioeconomy strategy for Mercosur. Daniel Vargas completed the session with talking on bioeconomy in the tropics and lessons learned from Brazil.
Session 2 - “Regional and national Bioeconomy’s - Roles and impacts in their contexts”, chaired by Adrian Rodriguez from Cepal, was opened by a talk on China’s bioeconomy strategy by Yin Li, followed by a tandem presentation by Katja Zboralski and Christina de Wit, Federal Ministry for Research and Education, Germany, who reflected on bioeconomy in the context of the German future research and innovation strategy. The German perspective was complemented by a presentation of the national bioeconomy roadmap by Daniela Thrän, co-chair of the German Bioeconomy Council. Richard Kitney reported on the UK strategy on boosting the bioeconomy. In the second part of the session regional developments in the bioeconomy were presented as examples. Ian O’Hara reported on the impact of bioeconomy on regional developments in Australia and Queensland, while Peter Wehrheim, European Commission, talked about the European Green Deal and its links to regional bioeconomies. Additionally, Wolfgang Wach gave interesting insights into the bioeconomy strategy of the Südzucker AG as a large global food company.
The second day of the event was opened by an introductory speech by Georg Schütte, Secretary General of the Volkswagen Foundation, Germany, which organized and funded the international workshop. Session 3 – “Next steps and scenarios for a sustainable bioeconomy in 2030 (or 2050)” was introduced and chaired by Anna von Paddenburg, New Zealand. In the first talk Ben Durham from South Africa concentrated on the impact of bioeconomy for creating jobs, while Regina Birner, Germany, focused on the necessity of sustainability in the development of the bioeconomy and on the discussion of different scientific perspectives for the societal transformation. Alex Kyaborongo, Uganda, one of the two representatives of the Bioeconomy Youth Champions of the IACGB participating in the workshop, presented the bioeconomy perspective of the youth and reported e.g. on the ongoing survey on the inclusion of youth in the bioeconomyof the Youth Group. In the second half of Session 3 Thomas Dietz, university of Muenster, Germany, gave an update report on the bioeconomy strategies in the world. Elspeth MacRae, New Zealand, highlighted in her talk the relevance of plant sciences for a bio-based economy. Johannes Vogel, Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, Germany, emphasized impressively on the high importance of biodiversity for a sustainable bioeconomy in the last presentation of day one.
Session 4 – “Way forward: coordinated actions for regional and global bioeconomy”, chaired by Joachim von Braun, Germany was initiated by a video message of the Parliamentary State Secretary of the Ministry of Economy and Climate Action, Germany, Michael Kellner, who highlighted the high relevance of bioeconomy as part of the economic transformation. Maximo Torero, Chief Economist at the FAO explained the role and importance of the sustainable and circular bioeconomy as part of the FAO’s strategic framework. Hugo Chavarria from IICA, Latin America presented examples from Latin America for transforming towards a sustainable use of natural resources with bioeconomy. Christine Lang, co-chair of the IACGB, summarized in her final remarks the topics raised and discussed in the workshop. The broad range of topics and key elements discussed reflects their high impact but as well as the complexity to be tackled for the way forward to enhance the global bioeconomy.
Christine Lang and Joachim von Braun closed the workshop with a short wrap-up and outlook on next steps. They thanked all presenters and participants for their contribution and the two days of intensive and fruitful discussions and the Volkswagen Association for the organization and funding of the workshop.
The statement summarizing the results of the international workshop can be downloaded from the IACGB homepage: