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The EU Bioeconomy Strategy, updated in 2018, in its Action Plan pledges an EU-wide, internationally coherent monitoring system to track economic, environmental and social progress towards a sustainable bioeconomy. This paper presents the approach taken by the European Commission’s (EC) Joint Research Centre (JRC) to develop such a system. To accomplish this, we capitalise on (1) the experiences of existing indicator frameworks; (2) stakeholder knowledge and expectations; and (3) national experiences and expertise. This approach is taken to ensure coherence with other bioeconomy-related European monitoring frameworks, the usefulness for decision-making and consistency with national and international initiatives to monitor the bioeconomy. We develop a conceptual framework, based on the definition of a sustainable bioeconomy as stated in the Strategy, for a holistic analysis of the trends in the bioeconomy sectors, following the three pillars of sustainability (economy, society and environment). From this conceptual framework, we derive an implementation framework that aims to highlight the synergies and trade-offs across the five objectives of the Bioeconomy Strategy in a coherent way. The EU Bioeconomy Monitoring System will be publicly available on the web platform of the EC Knowledge Centre for Bioeconomy.
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Development of a bioeconomy monitoring framework for the European
Union: An integrative and collaborative approach
Nicolas Robert
*, Jacopo Giuntoli
, Rita Araujo
, Marios Avraamides
, Elisabetta Balzi
José I. Barredo
, Bettina Baruth
, William Becker
, Maria Teresa Borzacchiello
Claudia Bulgheroni
, Andrea Camia
, Gianluca Fiore
, Marco Follador
, Patricia Gurria
Alessandra la Notte
, Maria Lusser
, Luisa Marelli
, Robert MBarek
, Claudia Parisi
George Philippidis
, Tévécia Ronzon
, Serenella Sala
, Javier Sanchez Lopez
, Sarah Mubareka
European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC), Italy
Formerly with the European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC), Italy
European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC), Spain
European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC), Belgium
Formerly with the European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC), Spain
Monitoring framework
European Union
EU bioeconomy strategy
Sustainable circular economy
Sustainable development goals
Climate change
The EU Bioeconomy Strategy, updated in 2018, in its Action Plan pledges an EU-wide, internationally coherent
monitoring system to track economic, environmental and social progress towards a sustainable bioeconomy.
This paper presents the approach taken by the European Commissions (EC) Joint Research Centre (JRC) to
develop such a system. To accomplish this, we capitalise on (1) the experiences of existing indicator frameworks;
(2) stakeholder knowledge and expectations; and (3) national experiences and expertise. This approach is taken
to ensure coherence with other bioeconomy-related European monitoring frameworks, the usefulness for deci-
sion-making and consistency with national and international initiatives to monitor the bioeconomy. We develop
a conceptual framework, based on the denition of a sustainable bioeconomy as stated in the Strategy, for a
holistic analysis of the trends in the bioeconomy sectors, following the three pillars of sustainability (economy,
society and environment). From this conceptual framework, we derive an implementation framework that aims
to highlight the synergies and trade-os across the ve objectives of the Bioeconomy Strategy in a coherent way.
The EU Bioeconomy Monitoring System will be publicly available on the web platform of the EC Knowledge
Centre for Bioeconomy.
In the context of global challenges such as climate change, eco-
system degradation, biodiversity loss, growing population, and in-
creasing consumption of resources, the European Union (EU) aims to
pursue sustainable development and to guarantee fair and inclusive
prosperity within the ecological boundaries of the planet [1,2]. The
shift to a sustainable bioeconomy (see denition in Box 1) is arguably
relevant to the success of many EU policies and is expected to con-
tribute to the overall objectives and specic initiatives of the European
Green Deal [3]. The EU Bioeconomy Strategy (hereafter, also the
Strategy), operates within a complex existing policy context, which
includes sectorial policies such as the Common Agricultural Policy
(CAP) [4], the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) [5], the New Industrial
Strategy for Europe [6]; as well as cross-sectorial policies such as the
European strategic long-term vision for a prosperous, modern, compe-
titive and climate neutral economy [7], the 2030 Climate and Energy
Framework (where the bioeconomy is among the seven strategic
building blocks of the EU long-term vision to reach climate-neutrality
by 2050), the EU Biodiversity Strategy [8], Europes strategy for
Received 31 January 2020; Received in revised form 28 April 2020; Accepted 14 June 2020
Abbreviations: CAP, Common Agricultural Policy; CFP, Common Fisheries Policy; EC, European Commission; ES, ecosystem services; EU, European Union; FAO,
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; IBF, International Bioeconomy Forum; ISBWG, International Sustainable Bioeconomy Working Group; JRC,
EC Joint Research Centre; LCA, Life Cycle Assessment; MAES, Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystem Services; MS, Member States; NCA, natural capital accounting;
SDG, Sustainable Development Goal
Corresponding author at: European Commission - Joint Research Centre (JRC), TP 261, Via E. Fermi, 2749, I-21027 Ispra VA, Italy.
E-mail address: (N. Robert).
New BIOTECHNOLOGY 59 (2020) 10–19
Available online 02 July 2020
1871-6784/ © 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license
research and innovation, the European action for sustainability [9], the
EU trade policy, the new Circular Economy Action Plan [10] and many
more [11]. Being at the conuence, the Bioeconomy Strategy with its
ve objectives (see rst column of Table 1) is regarded by EU policy
makers as pivotal to improving the coherence between those policies
aiming to lead the EU society towards more sustainable pathways by
decoupling economic growth and environmental impacts, by lowering
greenhouse gas emissions and restoring ecosystems while providing
jobs and services.
Knowledge as a basis for the bioeconomy development
Being a part of complex socio-economic and environmental systems,
it is dicult to foresee all of the direct and indirect impacts of the
bioeconomy, and trade-os are expected. Moreover, the impacts are
conditioned by the pathways that individual countries and regions
follow. There is therefore a need for comprehensive, reliable and
comparable information on the bioeconomy and its progress to support
decision making across sectors and across the EU territory at dierent
scales [1214]. In this context, the European Commission (EC) has
committed to provide reliable and harmonised data, information, and
knowledge concerning the bioeconomy to policy makers and other
stakeholders (see Action Plan, [1], p. 13).
The EC Joint Research Centre (JRC) launched a long-term study in
2015 in order to provide a sound scientic basis for EC policy making.
The aim of the work is to provide data, processed information, models
and analysis on EU and global biomass supply, demand and its sus-
tainability [15]. The rst results of the comprehensive evaluation of
biomass supply, uses and ows were released in 2018 [16]. They show
the status and trends in all primary sectors (agriculture, forestry, sh-
eries and aquaculture).
The EC has invested in managing knowledge about the bioeconomy
and its impacts since the release of the 2012 EU Bioeconomy Strategy
[17]. In 2013, the Bioeconomy Information System and Observatory
(BISO) were established by the JRC with the purpose of structuring and
facilitating access to information. This included information on the
environmental performance of some bioeconomy value chains [18], as
well as on socio-economic indicators [19], bio-based industries [20],
and forward-looking scenarios of the bioeconomy [21]. These eorts
were merged into the ECs Knowledge Centre for Bioeconomy in 2017.
This Centre is coordinated by the JRC and manages knowledge and
expertise from inside and outside the EC by facilitating knowledge
Box 1
Sustainable & Circular: Bioeconomy the European way ([1], p. 1).
The bioeconomy covers all sectors and systems that rely on biological resources (animals, plants, micro-organisms and derived biomass,
including organic waste), their functions and principles. It includes and interlinks: land and marine ecosystems and the services they provide;
all primary production sectors that use and produce biological resources (agriculture, forestry, sheries and aquaculture); and all economic
and industrial sectors that use biological resources and processes to produce food, feed, bio-based products, energy and services. To be
successful, the European bioeconomy needs to have sustainability and circularity at its heart. This will drive the renewal of our industries, the
modernisation of our primary production systems, the protection of the environment and will enhance biodiversity.
Table 1
Objectives of the 2018 EU Bioeconomy Strategy and the main criteria to monitor its eectiveness. The mapping to SDGs is carried out comparing key components/
criteria of the EU Bioeconomy framework to UN SDG targets.
N. Robert, et al. New BIOTECHNOLOGY 59 (2020) 10–19
sharing between experts, scientists and policy makers and by providing
a dissemination platform [22]. The Knowledge Centre for Bioeconomy
will host the Bioeconomy Monitoring System on its online platform as
foreseen in the updated EU Bioeconomy Strategy and Action Plan [1].
The need for a monitoring system
The goal of monitoring systems is to monitor change, and in the case
of the EU bioeconomy, progress. Progressindicates the advancement
towards an established goal or an improved condition. Policy makers
expressed the need for a transparent and comprehensive assessment of
the status and progress of the bioeconomy to legislate and take deci-
sions [23,24]. Hence one of the 2018 EU Bioeconomy Strategy actions
foresees the development of an EU-wide, internationally coherent
monitoring system to track economic, social and environmental pro-
gress towards a circular and sustainable bioeconomy. The JRC is
leading this action, in collaboration with several Commission Services
and stakeholders (see Action Plan in [1]).
The monitoring system, an essential tool for reexive governance
[25], will facilitate the evaluation of progress towards the objectives of
the Strategy and support the identication of areas in need of policy
intervention. Furthermore, it will provide the tools for cross-sectorial
and therefore cross-policy assessments. In addition, the system will
highlight synergies and trade-os across multiple scales and levels:
geographical (global, EU, national and regional); between the ve
Strategy objectives; across pillars of sustainability; and across economic
sectors. Given the multi-faceted nature of the bioeconomy, a clear
conceptual framework is seen by many scholars as being necessary
In this paper, we present the methodological steps taken by the JRC
(1) to dene a monitoring framework exible enough to inform a wide-
range of stakeholders for dierent purposes; (2) to interact with na-
tional and international organisations to ensure the coherence between
the dierent monitoring schemes; (3) to implement the EU monitoring
framework into an operational system; and (4) the way forward.
From the denition and objectives of the EU bioeconomy to the conceptual
framework of the monitoring system
First, we delineate the thematic perimeter and key features of the
bioeconomy to ensure that all relevant facets are represented.
Bioeconomy may be dened in various ways: in the EU case, the de-
nition given in the Strategy (see Box 1) is broad and encompassing.
Secondly, to ensure the usefulness of the system, stakeholdersex-
pectations should be taken into account to represent available in-
formation in a way that meets their needs while being scientically
sound. Thirdly, other bioeconomy or related monitoring systems (both
existing or under development) are reviewed in order to ensure the
coherence between national and international systems, as well as to
limit the reporting burden by using existing information as much as
Evaluating the bioeconomy from three perspectives
Our work departs from the denition used in the Strategy, which
uses several keywords that are guidelines to dene the framework.
From the denition, we elaborate a three-dimension conceptual fra-
mework as follows.
According to the Strategy, the bioeconomy covers the primary
sectors (agriculture, forestry, sheries and aquaculture) and the eco-
systems supplying primary goods and services, which constitute the
foundation of the bioeconomy. These sectors are clearly identied in
statistics and targeted by national and/or EU policies. Therefore, the
primary sectors constitute a rst dimension that complies with sectorial
The bioeconomy covers economic activities performed in several
sectors of the countrieseconomies as well as the part of the economic
systems that rely on biological resources [], their functions and
principles. This indicates that the monitoring framework must cover
the whole bioeconomy value chains from the supply of biomass and
other goods and services by the primary sectors, to the transformation
and nal use of these goods and services as well as the possible reuse
and recycling of the biomass. Therefore, the bioeconomy value chains
constitute the second dimension of the conceptual framework.
The Strategy also species that all economic and industrial sectors
that use biological resources and processes to produce food, feed, bio-
based products, energy and servicesare covered by the denition of
bioeconomy. This means that the use of biotechnology (in the pro-
cesses) is within the scope of the new Strategy, independently from the
type of feedstock used, with the exception of biomedicines and health
biotechnology, which are explicitly excluded as stated in the EU
Bioeconomy Strategy [1].
The denition in the Strategy ends with a normative requirement
for the bioeconomy to be successful: the European bioeconomy needs
to have sustainability [] at its heart. Therefore, monitoring the
progress towards a bioeconomy requires a comprehensive evaluation
across the three sustainability pillars: economic, social and environ-
mental. This constitutes a third dimension to be monitored.
The three dimensions of the denition as mentioned above re-
present the structure of a conceptual framework (Fig. 1) which serves as
a basis to identify data needs for the monitoring system. It is also of
interest to verify that the monitoring system does not lack key in-
dicators and that it uses adequate weights for the dierent aspects of
the bioeconomy.
Understanding usersexpectations
A survey on usersexpectations from an EU Bioeconomy Monitoring
System was conducted in April-May 2019 using a snowball sampling
technique [29]. We collected feedback from 76 participants, mostly
from governmental institutions, covering 18 EU Member States (MS):
Austria, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland,
Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain,
Sweden and the Netherlands. The feedback received indicated that the
System is expected to provide information at both EU and MS levels, as
well as on rural and coastal areas, and should convey knowledge about
all sectors related to the bioeconomy. Users expressed their need for
time series of indicators to analyse trends. They also wished for ana-
lytical knowledge, in particular of synergies and trade-osrelated to
the development of the bioeconomy to be within the monitoring
Participants to the survey wanted to use the monitoring system to
compare MS performance in dierent sectors; to follow rural, coastal
and regional trends to support the deployment of bioeconomies at local
level. The main goals of the potential users were stated as (1) prior-
itisation of actions and (2) to inform stakeholders. The user require-
ments will be further rened through workshops and dialogues with
users from the European institutions, and national and international
Collaboration with other national and international bioeconomy monitoring
Maintaining exchanges with national and international organisa-
tions is important to ensure that the EU Bioeconomy Monitoring System
is up-to-date with similar concepts and denitions in the worldwide
arena. It is worth noting that the concept of bioeconomy varies between
dierent initiatives and that these concepts may change over time, just
as the denition of the EU bioeconomy evolved from the 2012 to the
2018 Strategy. As the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
Development (OECD) reports, the bioeconomy has grown from a
biotechnology-centric vision to an economic activity that spreads across
N. Robert, et al. New BIOTECHNOLOGY 59 (2020) 10–19
several key sectors and policy families: agriculture and forestry, sh-
eries and aquaculture, food, trade, waste management and industry
Joining the EU and international perspectives, the JRC, at the
forefront of the ECs task to establish an EU Bioeconomy Monitoring
System, is co-chairing the Bioeconomy Indicator Working Group of the
International Bioeconomy Forum (IBF) with the Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to prepare guidelines for the
monitoring of the bioeconomy. To ensure compatibility with the in-
ternational arena, the JRC is following the International Sustainable
Bioeconomy Working Group (ISBWG) structure of 10 aspirational
principles and 24 criteria [13,31] in its implementation framework by
mapping them to the ve EU Bioeconomy objectives.
The JRC is following a bi-directional and mutual-learning approach
with MSs to develop the EU Bioeconomy Monitoring System. Several
EU MSs have released their own national bioeconomy strategies [32].
Pioneers were Germany in 2010 and Finland in 2014, followed by Spain
in 2016, France, Italy and Latvia in 2017, Ireland, the Netherlands and
the United Kingdom (The UK was part of the EU at the time of this
analysis) in 2018 and Austria in 2019 (Fig. 2). Eastern European
countries launched the BIOEAST initiative in November 2016 to de-
velop a common roadmap and vision for the macro region and to
support the development of national circular and bioeconomy strate-
gies. Some of these countries are developing monitoring frameworks to
assess progress in their bioeconomy. Given the variety of environmental
and socio-economic contexts and the specic objectives of the national
strategies, these frameworks dier. However, these national initiatives
are an additional source of inspiration to setup the EU-wide Bioec-
onomy Monitoring System. Reversely, some MSs, inter alia Ireland [33]
and Italy [34], explicitly state in their action plans the willingness to
liaise and be consistent with the EU Commission on the EU-wide
Bioeconomy Monitoring System.
The sectors and aspects covered in national bioeconomy strategies
vary. Some countries such as Finland started with a focus on the socio-
economic dimensions of the bioeconomy [35], while additional metrics
to assess more comprehensively the impacts of the national bioeconomy
will be considered in the future. Other national frameworks cover the
biophysical and technological dimensions: in Germany, the monitoring
framework is structured along 3 topic areas: (1) resources and their
sustainability; (2) economic eects and economic development of the
bio-economy, and (3) systemic monitoring, integrating data, indicators
and models to provide a systemic, holistic insight into the bioeconomy
[36]. The monitoring system in Italy relies currently on 8 areas: bio-
mass availability, productive and employment structure, human capa-
city, innovation, investment, demographics and markets. Furthermore,
the Italian Strategy considers separately an additional set of sustain-
ability indicators structured along 5 environmental and social objec-
tives which are in line with the EU Strategy objectives [34].
Several eorts have been carried out, or are ongoing, to select or
dene indicators. Lier et al. [37] conducted a study whereby the in-
dicators that were prioritised by MSs at the time of writing were
compared within the context of the MontBioeco project [38]. The MSs
were approached through the Standing Committee on Agricultural
Research Bioeconomy Strategic Working Group (SCAR-BSW) members.
Thirteen countries, represented by dierent ministries, responded. Re-
spondents conrmed that agriculture, aquaculture, sheries, forestry,
and food industry were always considered as part of the bioeconomy.
Transport, water purication and distribution and construction were
considered by some countries as being partially or not at all part of the
bioeconomy, and the bio-based shares in the pharmaceutical industry
and chemical industry processes was dicult to calculate.
The Horizon 2020 research project BioMonitor aims to establish a
sustainable and robust framework to monitor the bioeconomy and its
various impacts in EU Member States. It focuses on the elaboration of a
comprehensive database and statistics on bio-based activities (including
natural-resource-based activities, conventional bio-based activities and
novel activities). During a rst workshop, participating stakeholders
indicated that the monitoring system developed in the project should
track innovation, evaluate the capacity of the bioeconomy to mitigate
climate change, inform about the bioeconomy, assess trade-os in the
transition from a fossil to a bio-based economy, and support policy
decisions [39].
Fig. 1. Theoretical framework to monitor the sustainable circular bioeconomy.
N. Robert, et al. New BIOTECHNOLOGY 59 (2020) 10–19
The on-going eorts summarised above illustrate the relevance of
mutual learning, and of ensuring the coherence across scales, so that the
EU Bioeconomy Monitoring System reects national priorities and in-
dicators, and that national initiatives benet from a coherent EU-wide
Fig. 2. Strategies and other policy initiatives dedicated to the bioeconomy in the EU Member States (Status of as of November 2019).
N. Robert, et al. New BIOTECHNOLOGY 59 (2020) 10–19
Mobilising expertise in the EU institutions and Member States
In light of the number of initiatives mentioned above, numerous
researchers and stakeholders in national and international organisa-
tions have gained expertise on the bioeconomy. The Knowledge Centre
for Bioeconomy supports the mobilisation of this expertise, which is of
interest to support the development of the EU Bioeconomy Monitoring
System. In particular, it includes a Community of Practice, a network of
EC scientists, policy makers and other experts who share information
and perspectives on the bioeconomy, either in person or virtually [22].
Within this context, the Knowledge Centre for Bioeconomy orga-
nised two workshops in November 2018 and June 2019 to complement
the knowledge of the JRC researchers on ongoing eorts to monitor the
bioeconomy, to get feedback on draft versions of the EU monitoring
framework and to establish a rst list of indicators [40]. The interaction
with stakeholders and scientists will continue thanks to the organisa-
tion of other workshops and the publication of working documents
open for comments.
Implementation of an EU Bioeconomy Monitoring System
Based on inter-disciplinary knowledge and skills in the EC and on
the interaction with national and international experts, once the con-
ceptual groundwork was laid down, the JRC began the implementation
of a rst framework to monitor the EU Bioeconomy. In this section, we
develop the logic underlying this implementation framework.
Implementation framework
The EU Bioeconomy objectives provide a broad vision for a sus-
tainable bioeconomy. When implementing the conceptual framework,
these objectives were disaggregated into normative criteria taking in-
spiration from the work by Bracco et al. [13], and then reframed and
rened into key components tailored to the EU specicities. The criteria
capture the vision that a sustainable EU bioeconomy should contribute
to moving towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), reaching
climate-neutrality, promoting a circular economy, and encouraging a
transition towards sustainable food, farming and shing systems as well
as towards sustainable forestry and the development of bio-based sec-
tors. Preserving Europes natural capital for future generations, re-
storing ecosystems and enhancing their functions while conserving
biodiversity are also core pillars of the Strategy. Furthermore, a sus-
tainable and circular bioeconomy should create economic opportunities
for rural, coastal and urban communities through local bio-based in-
novation, the integration of primary producers in value chains, the
diversication of supply chains and the modernisation of EU industries.
Finally, a sustainable EU bioeconomy must look beyond EU borders and
promote sustainable trade conditions, promoting social fairness, eco-
nomic growth, and environmental protection within trading countries.
Table 1 introduces the proposed framework highlighting the link
with SDGs. Additional details and in-depth description of the frame-
work can be found in [31]. The criteria provide a guideline for which
indicators will be selected, with a preference for established indicators
that are already used in other monitoring processes.
We identied two major sources of indicators covering many of the
dimensions of the implementation framework. The rst is the system to
monitor the progress towards the UN SDGs at global and EU levels
[4143]. This system shares some critical characteristics with the EU
Bioeconomy Monitoring System: they both need to capture aspects of
complex interconnected systems, involving a large number of sectors at
dierent geographical levels. Since the scope of the SDGs is wider than
that of the bioeconomy, the seventeen SDGs and their specic targets
constitute a checklistto assess the full coverage of sustainability as-
pects within the bioeconomy monitoring framework (see e.g [44,45].).
In some cases, where the bioeconomy is the principal driver, the in-
dicators can be similar, for example in the case of SDG targets 2.4
(Ensure sustainable food production systems) or 15.2 (Promotion of
sustainable forest management). In other cases, in which the bioec-
onomy can contribute to meet the targets such as the SDG targets 7.2
(Increase in the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix)
and 8.2 (Achieve higher levels of economic productivity), the SDG in-
dicators can be used as references.
The second source of indicators is the monitoring of EU sectoral
policies dealing with primary productions. For example a Common
Monitoring and Evaluation Framework (CMEF) [46] was established by
the EC in 2014 to assess the CAP. The EU CFP [5] is assessed by the
Scientic, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF)
using a set of environmental, economic and social indicators structured
in CFP performance monitoring reports [47]. European forests, their
function and services as well as the forest-based sector have been
monitored since the 1990s in the context of Forest Europe [48]. These
frameworks are all designed to assess the sustainability of the specic
sectors they are directed towards. They are widely accepted by stake-
holders and provide documented and replicable information. Therefore,
although they dier in contents and approaches, they constitute a major
source of indicators for the EU Bioeconomy Monitoring System.
Additionally, the monitoring of the objectives of the EU Bioeconomy
Strategy is aligned with some specic monitoring systems. The FAOs
Food Security indicators and its four key components: Availability,
Access, Utilisation, and Stability [49] were used to structure the as-
sessment of objective 1.
The rst criterion Ecosystem condition and biodiversity are
maintained or enhancedof objective 2 is documented using indicators
from the EUs Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystem Services (MAES)
initiative [50]. This initiative aims at supporting the implementation of
the Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 and the new Strategy to 2030. In its
fth report [50], MAES provided an integrated analytical framework
and set of (spatially-explicit) indicators for mapping and assessing the
condition of ecosystems in the EU.
Objective 4: Mitigating and adapting to climate changeis eval-
uated using the concepts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change (IPCC [51]) on mitigation and adaptation. Finally, tools to
monitor Objectives 3 and 5 derive from dierent sources and make use
of techniques such as macroeconomic analysis or life cycle analysis.
Mapping indicators within the monitoring system
When mapping indicators to normative criteria, it becomes apparent
that dierent types of indicators are required to answer specic ques-
tions. There are therefore, necessarily, dierent levels of indicators
within the EU Bioeconomy Monitoring System (Fig. 3,[52]). At the
foundation of the pyramid are underlying statistical data that can be
measured, followed by three tiers of indicators diering in complexity,
and thus increasingly subject to interpretation. The indicators are
chosen based on their suitability to address the particular normative
Fig. 3. Illustration of the pyramid of information applied to the conceptual
N. Robert, et al. New BIOTECHNOLOGY 59 (2020) 10–19
criteria that needs to be assessed. In some cases it is appropriate to use
basic indicators whereas in other cases it is appropriate to use processed
or system level indicators. Sometimes, the system level indicators make
use of basic or processed indicators, but not always.
Basic indicators and data
The monitoring system will make use of existing and internationally
recognised indicators to limit the reporting burden. Existing frame-
works provide information through reporting systems that are not ne-
cessarily adapted to the bioeconomy, but whose indicators, at their
most basic level, may be relevant to the bioeconomy. They are mapped
within the conceptual framework described in section 2, i.e. within (1)
the biomass source (i.e. agriculture, forest, sheries and aquaculture as
well as waste); (2) the step in the value chain, from the primary pro-
duction to the nal product, recycling and end-of-life; and (3) three
sustainability pillars: economic, social and environmental, acknowl-
edging the corresponding SDG targets.
For these basic indicators, criteria such as relevance, coverage,
frequency and timeliness are important to consider (see e.g. [53]).
Experts from various bioeconomy elds reviewed candidate indicators
and created a passportcontaining the characteristics of each indicator
(see Table 5 in [31]). The passport includes information such as the
source of the indicator, the availability of recent and frequent estimates,
the geographical coverage, the accessibility and the current use in other
monitoring systems. These passports, together with expert knowledge,
are used to select the most appropriate indicators. The mapping of these
indicators onto the framework of the monitoring system highlights the
main data gaps. During this mapping phase, criteria and key compo-
nents of the framework are detailed. Gaps are lled with placeholders,
i.e. a description of the characteristics of the expected indicator, to
pinpoint the need for further research.
Processed indicators for harmonised, coherent and comprehensive
The primary information given by basic indicators is normalised
into processed indicators to provide a clearer, while still comprehen-
sive, image of the progress towards the bioeconomy (see Fig. 3). The
need for processed indicators arises for dierent reasons. Here we in-
troduce three examples of processing that may be applied within the EU
Bioeconomy Monitoring System (see some examples in [5456]).
The monitoring system is designed such that it should combine
numerous indicators about dierent facets of the bioeconomy from
dierent sources. These indicators use dierent units and denitions
depending on their sources, the sector they apply to, and qualify some
characteristics which are hardly comparable (such as biodiversity and
employment). In this section, we detail some techniques used to shape
the EU Bioeconomy Monitoring System to provide a comprehensive
The biomass is the main good produced and transformed in the
bioeconomy. The monitoring system should provide an overall picture
of the use of this resource and evaluate bioeconomy development op-
portunitiesin line with the Bioeconomy objectivesto answer ques-
tions related to food security, to the sustainable management of natural
resources, the competitiveness of the EU industries, the carbon ows
and the dependence on renewable and non-renewable biomass re-
sources. Therefore, the biomass supply and its ow through the
economy must be represented in a coherent way. The biomass comes
from a variety of sources: agriculture, forestry, sheries and aqua-
culture as well as waste. Statistics on these biomasses and the products
are usually not comparable. To align them, the JRC developed methods
to harmonise the data and coecients to estimate quantities in dry
matter [16,54]. This allows for a comparison across biomass sources
and sectors. However, the choice of the unit (e.g. mass of dry or fresh
matter, monetary value) changes the perspective on the primary sectors
and their relative importance. Therefore, dierent harmonisation units
might be selected depending on the aspect to be represented in the
To assess the fth objective of the Strategy and to evaluate the
contribution of the bioeconomy to the whole economy [57], the mon-
itoring framework should contain indicators that cut across the eco-
nomic sectors. Ocial statistics oer a wide variety of t-for-purpose
indicators (e.g. employment, value added, and trade). However, they
are reported in dierent statistics according to specicdenitions and
according to ocial classications of activity sectors or products that
sometimes mix bio-based activities with non-bio-based ones. Meth-
odologies were developed to harmonise the basic indicators and, for
sectors only partially included in the bioeconomy, to extract the share
of bioeconomy-related activities. They consist in calculating processed
indicators using basic indicators observed at the level of the bioec-
onomy activity sectors. The indicators could be derived from input-
output analyses (e.g [58].), from social accounting matrices (e.g
[59,60].) or the combination of multiple economic statistics (such as
the National Accounts, the Structural Business Statistics or the Labour
Force Survey) with expert information (e.g [55,56,61].). Therefore,
they embed a higher level of interpretation than basic indicators.
With the development of the bioeconomy, the EU will produce and
consume more biomass. The EUs own biomass resources will meet part
of the demand although these ambitious targets will also require reli-
able and sustained access to global suppliers. The access to third-
country trade raises concerns related to cropland footprint and emis-
sions from direct and indirect land use change, as well as to changes in
the pressure on natural resources and potential demand/supply con-
icts, which in turn will require careful consideration of the possible
trade-os. The rst and the third objectives of the Strategy include a
component on trade. The corresponding normative criteria aim to as-
sess whether the bioeconomy promotes sustainable trade of biomass for
food and non-food uses. This is analysed through a combination of
statistics and modelling to calculate processed indicators of the impacts
the European trade on the partner countries [62,63].
System-level indicators to provide an overview
System-level indicators are those that require a higher level of
value-judgement in their compilation given the higher level of com-
plexity of the questions the indicators are addressing. We present below
three methods that can provide relevant system level information on
the bioeconomy.
To bring together the information on the state of ecosystems, the
supply of biomass and other ecosystem services (ESs) and the economic
activities, some system level indicators can be calculated based on
natural capital accounting (NCA). This satellite account system is meant
to integrate ocial economic accounts by using their same framework
and methodological rules [64,65]. It therefore guarantees consistency
with tools and models used by economists and thus allows integrated
analysis and to analyse the role of the bioeconomy in the total economy
of a country. The methodology developed in the knowledge innovation
project on an integrated system of natural capital and ecosystem ser-
vices accounting (KIP-INCA) can inspire the preparation of some
bioeconomy indicators. In particular, information on the actual ow of
ecosystem services (i.e. the ow supplied by ecosystem types and used
by economic sectors and households) to the economy can be a starting
point to characterize the bioeconomy. It can support the analysis of a
wide range of issues, such as assessing whether the demand from eco-
nomic sectors is met, how sustainably ESs are used, and how ES status
and ows change over time [6669].
A method to elaborate indicators capable of unveiling causality
links and trade-os, embracing multiple dimensions (all life cycle stages
along supply chains and dierent types of impacts) is Life Cycle
Assessment (LCA). This method holistically addresses production and
consumption systems, spillover and transboundary eects, and, relating
all emissions and impacts to a product or function provided, is t for
sustainability assessment [70]. It is the basis for the calculation of the
EU product environmental footprint [17], which covers 16 impact
N. Robert, et al. New BIOTECHNOLOGY 59 (2020) 10–19
categories (such as climate change, ozone depletion, human toxicity
particulate matter, acidication, land use, and water use). This ap-
proach makes it possible to evaluate the environmental impacts of the
development of the EU bioeconomy in the EU and in partner countries.
Furthermore, bioeconomy-related environmental hotspots may be
identied through this methodology [13,71].
In general, the LCA characterises impacts based on an inventory of
emissions and of resource use. The underpinning models to estimate
those emissions are either very detailed and product-specic (as in
process-based LCA) or associated to sectors or product groups (as in
environmentally extended input-output analysis). At macro-scale, these
two approaches are complementary. Their combination in a hybrid
framework may help better dene the overall impacts [72].
Finally, composite/aggregate indicators (mathematical aggrega-
tions of indicators) can give a valuable and accessible overview of the
progress and trends of the EU bioeconomy. Presented as an entry point
to the underlying data, stakeholders can easily identify high-level
trends, make simple comparisons and get a good understanding of the
synergies and trade-os between dierent components of the bioec-
onomy [73]. Composite indicators are also powerful communication
tools, which can be used to show progress to the media and the public:
relevant existing indexes include the SDGs Index [74], the Sustainable
Development Index [75], and the Ecological Footprint [76]. However,
composite indicators are complex to design and often entail a higher
level of value-judgement in their compilation [77]. The EU Bioeconomy
Monitoring System will make use of composite indicators, starting from
the set of relevant indicators, and summarising key dimensions such as
the Strategy Objectives. This will help to generate strong and clear
messages for policy makers and other stakeholders.
Conclusions and next steps
In this paper, we present the approach taken in developing the EU
Bioeconomy Monitoring System. Its framework is designed to provide a
comprehensive insight into the bioeconomy along the economic, en-
vironmental and social dimensions of sustainability, both in the EU as a
whole and in Member States. By providing indicators at dierent levels
of aggregation, the monitoring system will provide policy ocers with
a holistic picture while oering the data to perform in-depth analyses.
The framework will also make it possible to look at the impacts of the
bioeconomy from dierent perspectives such as sustainability, ecosys-
tems type and value chain, following the multiple dimensions of the
conceptual framework. Finally, the monitoring framework is exible
and may evolve to meet future needs without hampering the capacity to
analyse historical changes. This exibility comes from the multi-
dimensional structure of the framework feeding the overall thematic
reporting according to the 2018 EU Bioeconomy Strategy objectives.
Compared to previous eorts to monitor the bioeconomy (see e.g.
[58,78,79]), this new framework covers a wider range of perspectives.
It takes advantage of the lessons learnt from European initiatives
[37,80] and expands them thematically in line with the 2018 EU
Bioeconomy Strategy. It also intends to align with international in-
itiatives such as the IBF work on Sustainable Bioeconomy Guidelines
[13] and the ISBWG tasks. Advances in EU MSs also inspire the EU
monitoring eorts in terms of structure, list of indicators and methods
to derive them. A close collaboration with scientists and stakeholders at
the EU, national and international level through workshops and bi-
lateral exchanges, ensures the coherence and the usefulness of the EU
Bioeconomy Monitoring System.
The EU Bioeconomy Monitoring System is under development fol-
lowing the framework herein described. In an initial mapping of in-
dicators, some gaps have been identied, particularly in the social di-
mension [31]. Gaps may be due to several reasons, such as the
unavailability of data with EU coverage from ocial statistics or a lack
of the appropriate granularity in available statistics in particular for
new technologies. For example, the statistics on the chemicals or the
plastics and rubber sectors in Eurostat describe both bio-based and
fossil-based products and, in the case of drop-in chemicals, it is not
possible to make the distinction between the two feedstock sources. In
other cases, the data may be available, but only for one point in time.
For example, the JRC made an eort to obtain specic data about the
bio-based chemical sector through surveys [20] and collection of in-
formation from dierent sources [81], but the level of uncertainty on
the numbers retrieved is still high and a stable time series does not yet
exist. A long-term solution for a more precise monitoring of these sec-
tors is to add specic codes for bio-based products in the nomenclatures
of the databases, as currently developed in the framework of the EU
BioMonitor project.
Data gaps can be also observed in innovative and emergent sectors:
for example, reliable, robust and temporally consistent information on
the algae sector is not available (for both, micro and macroalgae [82]).
Algae biomass is considered under dierent EU collection frameworks
but the size of the sector, the condentiality issues and the still scat-
tered landscape of players hampers the availability of good quality
data. Ongoing eorts aim to improve data on the production, on socio-
economic and environmental aspects as well as on research and in-
novation which would be relevant to the bioeconomy monitoring as
well as to the Water Framework Directive [83] and the Marine Strategy
Framework Directive [84].
The EU framework aims to monitor the impact of the EU bioec-
onomy in and outside Europe. The latter is complex for some cases and
sectors. For example, the impact of imported products e.g. palm oil,
ethanol or meatcan be complex to identify because information about
bio-commodities is usually aggregated at country or regional level,
hiding the causal links between productive systems and their impacts
on biodiversity or greenhouse gasses within a site-specic context.
Spatially explicit models can be used to compensate for the lack of data,
but these models are not always available or accessible in third coun-
tries. Similarly, some indicators are usually not available at the EU and
MS level, in particular those corresponding to the status of sh stocks.
Techniques to evaluate MSscontribution to the depletion or the
maintenance of these stocks would be required.
The nal set of indicators will need to be balanced across the ob-
jectives and criteria; the indicators will also need to be assessed for their
quality (see [31,53]). Placeholders will be used where data gaps can be
lled neither in a short time nor through proxies. Hopefully, the results
of this exercise will also inform further activities for statistical data
Finally, once the nal set of indicators is dened, aggregated in-
dicators will be elaborated. The process will again require bringing
together scientists and stakeholders to dene and parameterize the
methods to produce aggregated indicators and represent the results on a
publicly available dashboard. This will be the main next step towards
the implementation of the EU Bioeconomy Monitoring System.
Declaration of Competing Interest
The authors declare no conict of interest. The opinions expressed
herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reect the views
of the European Commission. The scientic output does not imply a
policy position of the European Commission.
The work described in this paper was carried out in the context of
the implementation of the Updated EU Bioeconomy Action Plan (COM
(2018)673). We express our gratitude to Jordi Guillén and the two
anonymous reviewers for their useful comments.
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N. Robert, et al. New BIOTECHNOLOGY 59 (2020) 10–19
... Para Jander et al.(2020) los gobiernos actuales se encuentran cada vez más interesados en invertir en la creación de sistemas que permitan llevar un mejor control y medición en el desarrollo de la bioeconomía, esto orientados en la demanda actual de productos biológicos que permitan desarrollo de nuevas tecnologías; como base los pilares fundamentales de la sostenibilidad: economía, medio ambiente y sociedad (Robert et al., 2020). ...
... Al comprender este concepto se tiene de igual manera la visión de sostenibilidad como una posibilidad de disminuir la presión que tienen los recursos naturales y las emisiones de gases que afectan el mundo, esto sin dejar de satisfacer las necesidades básicas energéticas (Philippidis et al., 2020;Robert et al., 2020). ...
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El objetivo es realizar una revisión y análisis sistemático de las publicaciones realizadas sobre la bioeconomía. La metodología utilizada fue a través de bases de datos de WoS y Scopus en un periodo entre 2005- 2021, las herramientas de análisis utilizadas fueron: Bibliometrix, análisis de redes sociales, mapa de cocitaciones con revisión de documentos más relevantes y el instrumento fue Ghepi. Los resultados sugieren que la prospectiva en términos de agenda para investigación en Bioeconomía, se orienta hacia la biorefinería y procesos de transformación de residuos para una industria sostenible, la migración hacia un mundo bioeconómico y bioenergías sostenibles.
... Consequentially, beyond the importance of regionalized and spatially explicit datasets in order to improve the quality of results (Chandrakumar and McLaren 2018a, b;Chandrakumar et al. 2018). In recent years, significant developments were made, especially in the context of the European Commission-Joint Research Centre (EC-JRC) to integrate PB and environmental footprints (EF) into E-LCA to allow meso-and macroeconomic assessments and conclusions by sector and product specific bottomup approaches (Bjørn et al. 2020;Robert et al. 2020;Sala and Castellani 2019;Sala et al. 2020). Like a majority of LCAs, HILCSA as well entails a relative assessment, e.g. if the observed case is better than a reference of cases and how much it is (substitution factor of impacts). ...
... per product can be considered as (un-)sustainable, however, on an absolute dimension it is a question of what quantities of such a product can be produced in general within a specific time frame. Such PB-LCIAs (Ryberg et al. 2018) addressing challenges of relating LCIs and LCIAs to operational definitions of PBs (Robert et al. 2020) are significant for BE, since a sustainable BE requires that the rate of extraction does not exceed the rate of regeneration, and that this regenerativity and the surrounding supporting systems are maintained. However, such absolute sustainability assessment methods are not robustly available in LCA, yet (Alejandrino et al. 2021;Guinée et al. 2022). ...
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Decoupling the fulfillment of societal needs from an ever-increasing production of goods together with decoupling this sufficient production from negative environmental, social and economic impacts, is and will be the major challenge of our economic systems to avoid an even deeper socio-ecological crisis. The ascending bioeconomy practices have to be assessed with regard to their potential to provide a good life for all within planetary boundaries Addressing this, life cycle sustainability assessment (LCSA) is necessary to integrate social, environmental and economic sustainability assessments. However, LCSAs are still in their infancy and a series of practical problems can be traced back to a lack of sound sustainability concepts and applied political economy/ecology. We reflect on social, ecological and economic sustainability, our societal relations to nature and a necessary societal-ecological transformation in order to structure a systemic framework for holistic and integrated LCSA (HILCSA). This framework allows an implementation in openLCA, conducting the inventory and impact assessment with harmonized databases and more coherent results compared to previous approaches. For further development we identify questions of political economy/ecology as significant. The idea of a bioeconomy as well as systemic assessments is a question of the perception of ends and means of a societal transformation.
... PPP infrastructures just like other construction projects produce a significant quantum of emissions during the building, operation, maintenance, and demolition stages that threaten the environment, economy, public health, and community's sustainable development. Evidently, Robert et al. (2020) mentioned that PPP building projects in the European Union (EU) in particular account for 40% of overall energy use, 36% of greenhouse gas emissions, 50% of all raw materials extracted, and 33% of total water use over their entire life cycle. PPP transport infrastructures such as roads, railways, and air trips which relies heavily on fossil fuel contribute 37% to global waste and emissions (O'Riordan et al. 2022). ...
The application of circular economy (CE) has received wide coverage in the built environment including public-private partnership (PPP) infrastructure projects, in recent times. However, current studies and practical implementation of CE is associated with construction demolition, waste, and recycling management. Few studies exist on suitable circular models and success factors of public infrastructures developed within the PPP contracts. Thus, the main objective of this article is to identify the models and key success factors associated with CE implementation in PPP infrastructure projects. A systematic review of the literature was undertaken in this study using forty-two (42) peer-reviewed journal articles from Scopus, Web of Science, Google Scholar, and PubMed. The results show that environmental factors, sustainable economic growth, effective stakeholder management, sufficient funding, utilization of low-carbon materials, and effective supply chain and procurement strategies facilitate the implementation of CE in PPP infrastructure projects. Key CE business models are centered around the extension of project lifecycle value, circular inputs, and recycling and reuse of projects. Although the study presents relevant findings and gaps for further investigations, it has a limited sample size of 42 papers which is expected to increase as CE gain more prominence in PPP infrastructure management in future. The findings are relevant for decision-making by PPP practitioners to attain the social, economic, and environmental benefits of transitioning to circular infrastructure management. This study contributes to articulating the key models and measures towards sustainable circular economy in public infrastructure development
... "Unlocking the potential of the bioeconomy" and ecosystems, which provide goods and services based on biological resources, so that the monitoring framework can cover the entire value chain of the bioeconomy, from the supply of goods from primary sectors, up to the possible reuse and recycling of biomass (Robert, 2020). This action provides funding for research, with the integration of additional funds allocated to EU framework programmes, such as the Horizon 2020 programme, which, thanks to its 4.52 billion, has financed thousands of research projects in the bioeconomy, which range from new methods of plant breeding to the development of indicators that monitor the evolution of CO 2 emissions (Lühmann, 2020). ...
Anthropogenic activities generally consume non-renewable resources and release polluting substances into the environment. Concerning agriculture, the cropping systems are almost based on exploiting non-renewable resources. In recent years, increasing interest has been devoted to reusing agricultural, food and other biomass wastes, considered relevant as they can be seen as resources rich in compounds that can find numerous applications. Biomass biorefining has been successfully applied and has opened up sustainable alternatives to the disposal of agricultural, agroindustrial and food wastes. In this area, an emerging, smart and environmentally friendly way to reduce the impact of waste on the environment is to obtain innovative materials for agriculture. Therefore, as part of biobased strategies, the use of waste biomass to obtain biostimulants and biogenic nanoparticles for crops has recently been proposed. Some research has shown that appropriate biostimulants and biobased nanomaterials have the potential to counteract some of the problems that plague agriculture. The above materials can improve crop performance, enhance crop tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses, and improve plant nutrition. In light of the above, this review aspires, in the first part, to provide an overview of the ideas and central points that characterize the concept of bioeconomy and circular economy. In the second part, on the other hand, the most recent studies related to the valorization of various types of wastes leading to innovative biobased materials and their application in agriculture are presented. In particular, biostimulants and nanoparticles obtained through biogenic synthesis using agroindustrial and plant residues have been considered. In conclusion, the studies reported in this review show that the use of some biomasses to obtain the above materials represents a sustainable way of waste management and valorization, enabling innovative biobased materials for agriculture.
... Innovation Technology has enabled the SMEs to meet the financial obligations as well (James &Kengatharan, 2020). Solution to these problem with an increase in cooperate expenditure (Robert et al., 2020). With might not be bearable for small firms (Ozili, 2020). ...
The purpose of this study is to investigate and clarify how Innovation Practices (IP) and Technological Innovation (TI) affect smalland medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)' ability to External Support (ES) in the COVID19 period. This research aims to investigate how External Support (ES) mediates the relationship between Technological Innovation (TI), Innovation Practices (IP), and the survival of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as well as how ES mediates the interaction between IP and TI.This study took a quantitative and deductive approach. The researcher gathered information from three SMEs in Gujranwala using an electronic questionnaire. SPSS software is used to analyses the data. In this study, two independent variables (IP and TI) each impact the SMEs, which leads to the ES. The replies of 250 consumers were used as a sample for this investigation. The judgmental sampling technique is employed in this study to obtain data from knowledgeable people about the subject under investigation. According to this study, both factors (IP and TI) have a substantial relationship with SMEs. Results show that the ES mediates the link between IP and SMEs as well as the association between IP and TI.This research will add to the existing knowledge about SMEs' survivability amid the COVID crisis. This is one of the first studies to look at external support as a mediator between IP and TI and the impact of IP on SSMEs in the COVID context. This study gives managers a thorough picture of the aspects that firms believe are vital in implementing effective Innovation Practices and Technological Innovation to improve their chances of business survival. As a result, this research aids managers in developing product manufacturing plans.
... While visions and narratives are key drivers in the evolution of social-ecological systems, the role of the JRC Bioeconomy Monitoring System is to monitor the state of the Bioeconomy at various time stages and to assess whether the current trajectory is in line with the desired vision. This vision is operationalized into the conceptual framework illustrated in Figure 1 and described in Giuntoli et al. (2020) and Robert et al. (2020). The current framework focuses on the five objectives defined in the 2012 EU bioeconomy strategy and confirmed in the 2018 strategy: given what we have described in section 2.3, these objectives represent a clear political will and reflect a specific vision and specific values (see Figure 3). ...
Technical Report
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The Bioeconomy is both an enabler and an end for the European Green Deal transformation: achieving the EGD transformation entails transforming the very meaning of sustainable bioeconomy. Among the deepest and most effective leverage points to transform a system are the worldviews driving our behaviours: they yield an enormous power to influence the framings which determine the solution space we explore. Transforming the bioeconomy, thus, requires reflecting on the stories we tell about ourselves, our place in nature, and our relationship with others. Scholars have highlighted how narratives surrounding the EU Bioeconomy have predominantly embraced a “Green Growth” perspective, centred around economic growth, technological innovation, and anthropocentric values, largely ignoring the social and justice dimensions, as well as not questioning the role, relations, and responsibilities of humans in the web of life. These dominant framings are increasingly contested, though, because they have failed to produce the social and ecological outcomes desired. This report introduces perspectives which have been under-represented in the Bioeconomy discourse and integrates them into an alternative vision for a “green, just and sufficient bioeconomy”. This vision places environmental sustainability and social equity at its core, regardless of economic growth; has an inclusive and participatory perspective; care, respect, and reciprocity for and with other humans and non-humans are core values; technology is important to deliver on the green and just objectives, but ethical considerations for new technologies are openly debated.
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The development of the bioeconomy on regional and national levels is heavily reliant on the establishment of precise and efficient governance frameworks. These structures encompass a wide range of components, spanning from financial support to regulatory tools and limitations. These mechanisms play a pivotal role in addressing the challenges that emerge during the bioeconomy’s growth. In this context, the necessity for continuous research to underpin and guide bioeconomy policies, while also bridging existing knowledge gaps, is glaringly evident. The current study brings a new perspective, using hierarchical cluster analysis as an exploratory approach and a technique for generating hypotheses. Its aim is to assess the progress of EU countries concerning the bioeconomy, including sectors involved in biomass production and conversion. The research draws on data published by the European Commission and Eurostat for the years 2015 and 2020, to capture the changes brought about by the adoption of the 2030 Agenda. The research findings furnish valuable insights into advancements in the bioeconomy and the clustering of countries based on their performance levels. Notably, Belgium and Denmark emerge as standout performers, potentially offering exemplary models of best practices.
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This chapter describes how bioeconomy sustainability assessment grounded in the concept of societal metabolism could be used to inform and support the policymaking process. While the BMS aims to be comprehensive, it still follows a reductionist approach where the various relevant aspects are treated separately and represented by siloed indicators. The trends presented in Chapter 4 are independent from the current societal and environmental context. The societal metabolism perspective and the use of the MuSIASEM approach, as described in this section, can complement the perspective emerging from the BMS by integrating several of the indicators and data sets into a holistic picture of the complete bioeconomy system.
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The bioeconomy is an area that encompasses more economic activities and is environmentally friendly and sustainable. Bioeconomy contributes to the economic development of a state by creating new jobs, expanding the business environment and making activities more efficient. In this context, the bioeconomy is an element of economic development that helps the Central and Eastern European countries (CEECs) to bridge the gap with the other countries in the west of the continent. The article aims to analyze the grouping of CEECs based on indicators specific to the bioeconomy, to highlight similarities or discrepancies between them. Moreover, we conduct this study in order to identify Romania’s position among CEECs in terms of specific bioeconomy indicators. The study is based on the European Commission’s Joint Research Center database for the bioeconomy indexes for these particular regions. We employed a hierarchical cluster method using SPSS software. The sample consisted of the 11 CEEC Member States (MS) of the European Union (EU), and the period under review was between 2008 and 2019. The research indicators included turnover, number of workers, apparent labour productivity, and added value. The results show that Slovakia, Croatia and Romania form individual groups at an iteration level between 0 and 15, indicating significant discrepancies between countries in the region. The novelty of the research derives from the fact that there are no previous analyses that compare Romania’s status with other CEECs from the perspective of bioeconomy. Therefore, the paper can contribute to the implementation by the Romanian authorities of a set of measures necessary to develop the strategy dedicated to the bioeconomy based on good practices from the other CEECs.
Technical Report
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Monitoring systems allow decision makers to assess the performance and progress towards specific strategic objectives that reflect an overall vision. The bioeconomy consists of complex social, economic, and environmental systems. The EU Bioeconomy Monitoring System was developed by the JRC to track economic, environmental and social progress towards a sustainable bioeconomy. Here we present the first assessment of the EU Bioeconomy Monitoring System.
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The Sankey biomass diagram is a representation of harmonised data from the various Joint Research Centre (JRC) units contributing to the BIOMASS project. It represents the flows of biomass for each sector of the bioeconomy, from supply to uses including trade. This diagram enables deeper analysis and comparison of the different countries and sectors across a defined time series. Annex 6 provides illustrations for the 28 EU Member States and the EU-28 aggregation. Multiple data sources have been used to quantify biomass for each category and Member State. All relevant data from the different sources have been integrated into a single database. The Sankey biomass diagram represents the categories and flows of this database. The diagram is hosted in the JRC DataM Portal, in the Bioeconomy visualization area .
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A sustainable and circular bioeconomy is a pathway to the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 because the bioeconomy relates to a number of SDGs. We therefore focused on whether and how these SDGs are considered in national bioeconomy strategies, and on their indicator-based progress monitoring and assessment. This paper is based on eight countries that already have elaborated indicators in their national bioeconomy strategies. We analyzed the coverage of SDG issues in national bioeconomy strategies and the indicators used. We focused on how the different national indicators used to monitor the progress of the bioeconomy are related to the SDGs indicators and the already well established and widely applied intergovernmental regional or international forest-related indicators, as the forest sector is one of the key sectors for the development of a bioeconomy. Our material and methods are based on a document review and qualitative analysis of national bioeconomy strategies and their inherent indicator sets for progress monitoring. Based on our findings on the coverage of SDG-related issues of up to 14 out of the 17 SDGs in the bioeconomy strategies and of the high share of forest-related indicators within the bioeconomy indicators used, we derive recommendations for the further development of bioeconomy indicators. Our paper does not contribute to proposing the most suitable indicators, but it does encourage national and regional actors to carefully and holistically develop their bioeconomy monitoring systems using synergies from the already existing SDGs and forest monitoring processes.
Technical Report
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The urgent need to shift our economy towards a more sustainable, resource-efficient economy based on renewable resources that either makes less use of fossil resources or dispenses with them entirely , the so called bioeconomy, has been recognized all over Europe. As a result, many EU Member States (EU MS) have formulated national and regional bioeconomy strategies, related policies or initiatives. An important tool for the successful implementation of a strategy is the monitoring and evaluation of the success of the measures undertaken to reach the strategy´s goals. The EC review report of the EU Bioeconomy strategy concluded the need for better monitoring and assessment frameworks, "new actions are needed to develop relevant indicators and scientific evidence for policy making, and to implement a more holistic monitoring and assessment framework" (EC 2017). However, up to now, there is no commonly agreed set of indicators to measure the bioe-conomy at EU level. Because the main drivers for the transition towards a bioeconomy often strongly vary between EU MS on the country-specific economic and ecological settings, legal framework, and social demands, also the national or regional bioeconomy strategies vary in their goals and measures. Consequently, proxies and indicators used to measure the development of a national bioeconomy or the success of a bioeconomy strategy depend on the national goals, and are therefore often not applicable in any other country. Nevertheless, synchronizing the national bioeconomy monitoring-activities is necessary to ensure comparability of the results of the national monitoring systems. As a first step towards a common European bioeconomy monitoring-activity, it is crucial to get an overview over the numerous scattered ongoing monitoring activities at EU MS level. Therefore, there is the need for an overview study presenting information on existing approaches of monitoring bioeconomy strategies in the EU MS. This report presents an overview of existing bioeconomy strategies, policies or related initiatives and indicators to monitor and assess these at EU MS level, and the importance of existing bioeconomy sectors at national level. Furthermore, it presents the existing or needed most suitable bioeconomy key indicators and related indicators, and their respective data availability, for assessing and monitoring the progress of a bioeconomy at national level. The identified most suitable bioeconomy indicators important and feasible at the national context, can contribute to the further discussions when setting the frame for the development of a common EU bioeconomy monitoring system.
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Monitoring employment in the European wood-based bioeconomy requires reliable, consistent, and comparable statistics across subsectors and over time. Statistics concerning employment in wood-based industries—the main component of the forest-based bioeconomy—must be processed carefully to cope with differences in definitions and estimation methods. In addition, specific methods must be applied to estimate wood-based employment in sectors including also non-wood activities. In this study, we first delineate the boundaries of the wood-based bioeconomy, and then create a harmonised time series on employment for the identified sectors. Finally, we estimate the share of wood-based employment along the value chain in all sectors using wood. According to the results, forestry and extended wood-based value chains employed 4.5 million people in the EU-28 in 2018. Employment in wood-based value chains decreased between 2008 and 2013 in the aftermaths of the financial crisis. Continuously decreasing employment—most apparent in the manufacture of solid wood products and pulp and paper—results from increasing productivity and a decreasing demand for graphic paper. Further, most of the wood-based employment in the EU takes place in downstream parts of value chains, although the weight of the primary sector is still high in some Eastern European countries.
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In October 2018, the European Union (EU) launched an updated bioeconomy strategy with the aim of encouraging the substitution of fossil carbon with biomass feedstock in the industry and in energy production while preserving ecosystem services. The objective of the paper is to analyse the links between the EU bioeconomy strategy and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and to assess what could be the main points of synergies and tensions between bioeconomy-related SDG targets. By semantically mapping the action plan of the 2018 EU bioeconomy strategy with the SDG targets, the paper finds that the bioeconomy strategy is aligned with 53 targets distributed in 12 of the 17 SDGs. Ex-post correlation analysis on bioeconomy-related SDGs indicators for 28 EU Member States (1990–2018) shows a predominance of synergies over trade-offs. More intense synergetic past developments (positive correlations) are found among clean energies (SDG 7), recycling (SDG 11), ecosystem preservation (SDG 15) and most of all other bioeconomy-related SDGs. Negative correlations are observed between agro-biodiversity (SDG 2), domestic material consumption of biomass (SDG 8 and 12), agriculture and industrial developments (SDG 2 and SDG 9) and a wide array of bioeconomy-related SDG indicators. The hotspots of strong correlations identified might be useful in further enrichment of ex-ante simulation models. From a policy coherence perspective, a wide range of policy instruments are already in place in the EU to foster synergies and may bring co-benefits. Policies oriented at preventing trade-offs are already in place but they have not overcome the antagonisms observed in this study yet. Change in practices, technical and technological innovations and the application of circular and ‘cascading principles’ are the most common fields of action.
Technical Report
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Almost fifty countries have placed the promotion of the bioeconomy on their political agendas. However, bioeconomy activities are not necessarily sustainable, and sustainability issues are not often considered in the implementation of the bioeconomy. Considering this, FAO developed a set of Aspirational Principles and Criteria for Sustainable Bioeconomy, which were agreed upon by the International Sustainable Bioeconomy Working Group in 2016 led by FAO. In line with these Principles and Criteria, FAO seeks to provide technical assistance to countries in developing and monitoring the sustainability of the bioeconomy. The main objective of this report is to review existing approaches for monitoring and evaluation in order to identify already available indicators, from which the authors compiled two comprehensive lists: indicators at the territorial level, including bioeconomy-relevant SDG indicators; indicators at the product/value chain level, including indicators used for standards, certificates and labels. To conclude, the authors propose a possible way forward to help countries and practitioners in their monitoring and evaluation efforts: a stepwise approach to select indicators for monitoring and evaluating the sustainability of the bioeconomy.
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When the Human Development Index (HDI) was introduced in the 1990s, it was an important step toward a more sensible measure of progress, one defined less by GDP growth and more by social goals. But the limitations of HDI have become clear in the 21 st century, given a growing crisis of climate change and ecological breakdown. HDI pays no attention to ecology, and retains an emphasis on high levels of income that-given strong correlations between income and ecological impact-violates sustainability principles. The countries that score highest on the HDI also contribute most, in per capita terms, to climate change and other forms of ecological breakdown. In this sense, HDI promotes a model of development that is empirically incompatible with ecological stability, and impossible to universalize. In this paper I propose an alternative index that corrects for these problems: the Sustainable Development Index (SDI). The SDI retains the base formula of the HDI but places a sufficiency threshold on per capita income, and divides by two key indicators of ecological impact: CO2 emissions and material footprint, both calculated in per capita consumption-based terms and rendered vis-à-vis planetary boundaries. The SDI is an indicator of strong sustainability that measures nations' ecological efficiency in delivering human development.