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Guidance note on monitoring the sustainability of the bioeconomy at a country or macro-regional level











Bogdanski, A., Giuntoli, J., Mubareka, S., Gomez San Juan, M., Robert, N. and Tani, A. 2021. Guidance note on monitoring the sustainability of bioeconomy at a country or macro-regional level. Environment and Natural Resources Management Working Papers – Bioeconomy, No. 90. Rome, FAO and EC-JRC. 




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    Este informe, se centra en cómo monitorear la sostenibilidad de la bioeconomía y describe cómo desarrollar dos sistemas de monitoreo; flujos cualitativos de biomasa de los principales productos básicos agrícolas y su sostenibilidad y circularidad, y el análisis de sectores de base biológica dentro de la economía en general. Ambos se complementan para obtener un análisis exhaustivo de la sostenibilidad de la bioeconomía y proporcionar una base sólida para evaluar la circularidad en los flujos de biomasa y el desarrollo intersectorial de la bioeconomía. El documento examina el ejemplo de Uruguay para la soja, el arroz, la ganadería, la silvicultura (coníferas y no coníferas) y la pesca y la acuicultura y analiza la sostenibilidad de los productos básicos como la pulpa de eucalipto (silvicultura), la carne vacuna (ganadería), la soja (cultivos), leche en polvo (productos lácteos) y pesca. También analiza la participación de la bioeconomía dentro de la economía nacional y analiza su sostenibilidad. El informe se basa en los Principios y criterios aspiracionales para una bioeconomía sostenible desarrollados por el Grupo de trabajo internacional sobre bioeconomía sostenible liderado por la FAO, que proporcionan una plantilla de seguimiento útil que podría guiar a otros países y regiones y vincularse con los Objetivos de desarrollo sostenible. This publication focuses on how to monitor the sustainability of the bioeconomy and describes how to develop two monitoring systems; qualitative biomass flows of major agricultural commodities and their sustainability and circularity, and analysis of bio-based sectors within the wider economy. Both complement each other to obtain a comprehensive analysis of the sustainability of the bioeconomy and to provide a solid basis for assessing the circularity in biomass flows and cross-sectoral development of the bioeconomy. The study provides an example in Uruguay, for soybean, rice, livestock, forestry (coniferous and non-coniferous) and fisheries and aquaculture and analyses the sustainability of core products such as Eucalyptus pulp (forestry), beef (livestock), soybeans (crops), milk powder (dairy products) and fisheries. It also looks at the share of the bioeconomy within the national economy and analyses its sustainability. The Aspirational Principles and Criteria for a sustainable bioeconomy developed by the FAO-led International Sustainable Bioeconomy Working Group provide a useful monitoring template that could guide other countries and regions and link to the Sustainable Development Goals.
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    FAO has been working for many years on non-food biomass products (including sustainable bioenergy) and biotechnology, and it received a mandate to coordinate international work on ‘food first’ sustainable bioeconomy by 62 Ministers present at the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) 2015. Moreover, FAO has received support from the Government of Germany to develop guidelines on sustainable bioeconomy development (Phase 1: 2016; Phase 2: 2017-mid 2020). This involves work on the bioeconomy monitoring, including the selection and use of indicators. The ultimate aim of FAO’s work on sustainability indicators is to provide technical assistance to countries and stakeholders in developing and monitoring sustainable bioeconomy, more particularly on identifying suitable indicators in line with the Sustainable Bioeconomy Aspirational Principles and related Criteria, agreed upon in 2016 by the International Sustainable Bioeconomy Working Group created in the context of FAO’s project on Sustainable Bioeconomy Guidelines. These indicators shall help both policy makers and producers/manufacturers in monitoring and evaluating the sustainability of their bioeconomy strategies and interventions. In order to cover all the relevant aspects and issues for a sustainable bioeconomy, our approach identifies impact categories from the sustainable bioeconomy principles and criteria. The monitoring approach suggested is balanced, since it considers the three sustainability dimensions (social, economic and environmental); at the same time, it proposes to use a limited set of core indicators, to keep the monitoring feasible and cost-effective. The suggested methodology starts with a review of existing monitoring approaches to identify already available indicators, from which the authors.
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    Bioeconomy is credited as being one of the key pillars for the FAO Strategic Framework 2022–2031 to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. More than 60 countries and regions have a dedicated bioeconomy or bioscience strategy today, and many more are already implementing the bioeconomy with plans and programmes, often also attempting to monitor and evaluate the progress towards the transition. Moreover, where trade-offs exist between different sustainability objectives, the bioeconomy offers an opportunity to realign the economy with the biosphere and account for the trade-offs in a holistic way. This toolbox provides a methodology to guide the development of bioeconomy strategies, and other elements to support its deployment, from dedicated governance systems, to monitoring frameworks to action on the ground. Many of the examples in this toolbox refer to knowledge gained through FAO experience, while being forward-looking and designed to help more countries and regions embark on or continue their journey towards building a sustainable bioeconomy. This aligns with FAO’s strategic mission over the next decade; FAO is the first United Nations entity to elevate bioeconomy to a corporate priority, including it as one of 20 programme priority areas under its Strategic Framework 2022–2031. This reflects the growing role that FAO sees for bioeconomy as a driver of sustainable agrifood systems transformation over the next decade.

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