A JRC Scientific and Policy report published in January 2013 explores and delineates the analytical scope of the emerging “bio-economy”. The report, entitled “Bio-economy and sustainability: a potential contribution to the Bio-economy Observatory”, outlines the concept of bio-economy and its drivers, distinguishes bio-economy sectors from eco-industries, and reviews the EU policy approach to the bio-economy. It also provides a snapshot of the bio-economy, explores options for its measurement and monitoring, and reviews current standardisation and research activities.
The bio-economy encompasses the production of primary (from flora or sea resources) and secondary (e.g. waste and residues) biological resources, and their conversion into value-added products, such as food, feed, chemicals, materials, biofuels, etc. With the world population moving towards 9 billion by 2050 and fossil resources dwindling, a shift towards a greener and more sustainable society that is less dependent on fossil fuels is called for. The bio-economy offers a promising opportunity to address complex and inter-connected challenges, while helping to achieve economic growth. It can facilitate the transition towards a more resource-efficient society that satisfies the demand from consumers and industry, and tackles environmental challenges.
While not specifically intended to prepare the ground for the future EU Bio-economy Observatory (BO), this JRC Scientific and Policy Report could inform the design of monitoring activities to be undertaken within the BO framework. It recommends the adoption of a coordinated management of renewable biological resources in agriculture, food production, bio-based industries and energy. It also proposes that a comprehensive analytical framework and an integrative methodology, based on a product-chain approach, be used to monitor the evolution of the EU bio-economy. The report recommends that further research be carried out on harmonising the identified datasets and methodologies, and that further bio-economy data information and analyses be gathered and integrated. To this end, a dedicated questionnaire is provided in the report.