EESC Opinion: A sustainable bioeconomy for Europe: Strengthening the connection between economy, society and the environment’

Official Journal (C Series): Opinions of the European Economic and Social Committee

  • Source: European Economic and Social Committee

Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on ‘Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions — A sustainable bioeconomy for Europe: Strengthening the connection between economy, society and the environment’(COM(2018) 673 final)

Key conclusions and recommendations:

  • There is a sense of global urgency: global challenges like climate change and worldwide population growth are forcing us as a matter of urgency to find substitutes for fossil fuels and to use bio-resources more efficiently. Agriculture and the forest-based sector are major producers of biomass for uses other than food or feed and as such are important contributors to the bioeconomy. New value chains offer additional opportunities for activities in the rural economy to shift from a fossil fuel-based to a bio-based economy.
  • Against this backdrop, better awareness of our consumption of bio-resources must be given priority in line with the climate objectives of the Paris Agreement. Beyond achieving better understanding, bioeconomy activities need to engage consumers through regular advice and information, so as to facilitate the necessary changes and pave the way for introducing market creation measures to further boost consumers’ trust and public procurers’ uptake of EU-produced bio-based products.
  • Incorporating research, innovation and bioeconomy activities into a long-term strategy will make it easier to support development and replication.
  • Continuing the education and training of workers and primary producers is crucial. It is important to facilitate knowledge exchange, provide support for transnational networks and keep pace with societal and technological change. Education, engagement and communication approaches which involve rural bioeconomy stakeholders are crucial.
  • It is essential to promote the circular economy and inter-sectoral, territorial linkages in the EU and beyond, notably with regard to meeting commitments under the Sustainable Development Goals and COP21 objectives.
  • All Member States should mainstream a comprehensive bioeconomy strategy into their policies and programmes and involve the competent local authorities and relevant stakeholders (primary producers, research and education providers, industry, civil society and social partners, etc.).
  • The EU should strive for a global pricing system for carbon emissions, which would be a neutral and effective way of promoting the bioeconomy and bringing all market players on board to mitigate climate change.
  • Respecting sustainability principles is essential for a ‘new’ bioeconomy, and natural resources have to be conserved in order to keep them productive. In this regard, the Bioeconomy must follow sustainability criteria. To avoid distortions to the disadvantage of the environment, economy and society, the same rules shall apply for biomass from the European Union and from abroad.

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