SABio at the WWU Sustainability Day “Campus Earth”

On October 20th, the University of Münster hosted the Sustainability Day “Campus Earth” for the first time. From now on this action day is planned to be an annual event at the University. The programme includes lectures, citizen dialogues, workshops and mobile laboratories to gain insights into the interdisciplinary research linked to a sustainability transformation. Within this framework, various WWU institutions, organisations and research groups presented themselves and their current projects to the public.

The SABio research group participated in this event by presenting their work during the day at the exhibition space and organizing an open discussion round on the topics of bioeconomy and sustainability. This World Café was organized together with the Brazil Centre, the Centre for Interdisciplinary Sustainability Research (ZIN) and the Institutes of Political Science and Landscape Ecology.

The event aimed to debate topics such as resource dependencies and the sustainability performance of bioeconomies in South America. More specifically, the World Café aimed to open a debate about problems and possible solutions of bio-based transformations in South America. The participants were invited to question their own roles and talk about international interconnections. To facilitate the exchange of the participants with various backgrounds, each participant had the opportunity to speak in their language of preference (German, English, Spanish or Portuguese). Still, in the end, everyone was able to communicate in English and only smaller translations had to be provided.

A total of 10-15 people not only of different languages but also of different age groups participated in the World Café. After a short introduction by Dr Karen Siegel (Head of the research group in political science at the University of Münster and ZIN member) and Prof. Tillmann Buttschardt (ZIN and Institute of Landscape Ecology, University of Münster), the three early-career researchers of the SABio group in political science gave short inputs about their work.

The presentations opened three discussion rounds, focusing on current debates on bio-based transformations in Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. The participants then discussed these questions at three different tables together with the researchers present and the results were captured on post-its. After the first round of discussion, the participants changed places so that new group constellations could be formed, which positively affected the discussions and the results achieved, as new perspectives and experiences could be shared.  Finally, the post-its were attached to flipcharts after each discussion round, creating a “result gallery“. After the event, participants were able to look at all the important keywords from the three discussion rounds and continue the debate informally. In the first round, the participants discussed the broad concept of bioeconomies and talked about the opportunities and potential to foster sustainability, based on Dr Melisa Deciancio`s presentation and the case of Argentina. More specifically, concerns about the increase in monocultures and the use of pesticides were shared during the exchange of thoughts. This led to a debate regarding the role of international regulations and certifications which may present possible solutions, but not without challenges. Matching this topic, the participants were able to discuss the role of certifications, such as the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification, or other possible measures for more sustainability in the forestry sector during the second round. As a basis for this, Daniel Kefeli illustrated the sustainability challenges of the pulp industry and the associated forestry sector in Uruguay. The attendees highlighted the lack of monitoring mechanisms and transparency of the certification process regarding different private and public actors. Moreover, they criticized the high costs of certifications which compromises the accessibility of the labels. Finally, the last roundtable discussion was guided by Guilherme de Queiroz-Stein and focused on the concept of socio-biodiversity and case studies from Brazil. In particular, the participants talked about possible ways to ensure the inclusion and protection of indigenous people. They came up with possible solutions like land rights and financial compensations for affected populations. Furthermore, the responsibilities of the consumer, the local state, and the international organisation were discussed in that context. To close the event, Anja Grecko Lorenz, managing director of the WWU Brazil Centre, provided an overview of cooperation possibilities.

Interdisciplinary special issue on SDGs, environmental governance and bioeconomy in Latin America

by Marie Podien and Karen Siegel

Justification for business as usual or potential for change?

This was the question that a group of international scholars from Latin America, Europe and Asia discussed in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals at a double panel at the annual conference of the Society for Latin American Studies (SLAS) held at the University of Leicester, UK, back in 2019. A few years and several rounds of revisions later, some of the findings of the discussions have now been published in a special issue of the Bulletin of Latin American Research edited by Karen Siegel and Mairon Bastos Lima.

Adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has pledged to “leave no one behind” and adopted the SDGs as its key framework. However, the SDGs are not legally binding and they can be prioritised, interpreted and implemented in different ways, and there is likely to be significant variation between countries and topics. While the emphasis of the SDGs on participation and inclusive decision-making may represent an opportunity for positive change, this cannot be taken for granted. How Latin American countries address the SDGs (or not), fostering a transformation towards inclusive and peaceful sustainable development or attempt to justify business as usual remains an important empirical inquiry in the current social and political context. The question of how to promote development that meets social and economic objectives in Latin America while being environmentally sustainable and peaceful is therefore a long-standing and contested challenge.

This topic is discussed in the special issue “Quo Vadis, Latin America? Human Rights, Environmental Governance and the Sustainable Development Goals”. The special issue consists of five articles,focusing on how environmental governance intersects with inequality, social exclusion and human rights in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals in Latin America. Three of the five papers investigate the role of the SDGs concerning human rights and environmental issues in Brazil, Chile and Argentina. Mairon Bastos Lima (Stockholm Environment Institute, Sweden) and Karen Da Costa (University of Gothenburg, Sweden) examine the Bolsonaro government and its impacts on environmental issues. They expose misgovernance under the Bolsonaro administration regarding social inclusion and environmental politics. Nonetheless, the SDGs provide a tool for civil society to address and critique the missing environmental policies of the government. Despite that, because they are not legally binding the SDGs are not a strong mechanism to enforce implementation, and governments can use them as it suits them. The same problems can be found in Chile, as David Jofré (Research Center for Integrated Disaster Risk Management, Chile) describes. Civil society, and in particular grassroots groups that are critical of neoliberal extractivism as a development strategy, frequently feel excluded from public policymaking regarding environmental issues and many environmental activists do not trust the mechanisms of citizen participation. It will be interesting to follow how this plays out in a changing political context. Under Boric the Chilean government attempted to involve more diverse actors with a ministerial cabinet dominated by young women and including climate scientists, members of LGBTI+ and indigenous communities. At the same time, contradictions persist for example when politicians who preach climate consciousness hold their own private water rights and shares in extractive companies. It is perhaps a result of such contradictions that grassroot mobilizations are a very common form of resistance. The article by Lucas Christel and Elisabeth Möhle (both National University of San Martin, Argentina) about Argentina also examines different interpretations and valuations of sustainability and shows how this can lead to protracted conflicts which then negatively impact on possibilities for environmental governance. Their research also shows that the SDGs are not a strong mechanism for accountability and governments can just focus on the preferred goals and at the same time disregard others. Despite the different political systems, social and environmental problems, and applications of the SDGs in Latin America, the three research papers all conclude that the SDGs are not sufficient for fighting social and environmental issues and addressing long-standing inequalities. What is often missing is an integration and broader participation of civil society during governance processes. This in turn leads to problems and tensions in political systems and environmental governance.

The remaining two articles concentrate more broadly on the processes of sustainability politics and histories in Latin America. Both articles also discuss the role of European actors, with respect to the consequences of colonization or policy influence. Julia McClure (University of Glasgow, UK) expands on issues between indigenous communities in Mexico and the expansion of commercial interests disregarding indigenous property rights despite the efforts for a transition to more sustainable development. These tensions started with the imperialism of the Spanish Empire and are still relevant today and often use legal processes to acknowledge the rights of indigenous people but at the same time undermine their long-term interests. These problems also arise with the extraction of new green energy resources, so that existing attempts for a sustainability transformation often do not include social issues and still have significant impacts on indigenous communities including also their property rights. In the last article, the SABio research group in Political Science (University of Münster, Germany) led by Karen Siegel with Melisa Deciancio, Daniel Kefeli, Guilherme de Queiroz-Stein and Thomas Dietz examine to what extent and in which ways bioeconomy development fosters or hinders an inclusive sustainability transition. Three case studies from Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil examine how the concept of bioeconomy is implemented in different contexts and to what extent it may help to address socio-environmental concerns. The case studies show that different actors and different countries interpret and use the concept of bioeconomy differently. In Uruguay the government promoted the concept and encouraged the participation of a more diverse group of actors while in Argentina it was mostly a smaller network with strong links to the private sector that has taken up the bioeconomy approach. In Brazil, different and sometimes competing ideas of the concept of bioeconomy exist and are disseminated through different networks and groups of actors. The case studies show how approaches to sustainability like the SDGs or bioeconomy can be used and interpreted in different ways by different actors with different interests. This is important because it has implications for core values such as inclusiveness, but also legitimacy and effectiveness. It is clear that the concept of bioeconomy will not be able to transform a change in social and environmental sustainability alone but needs supporting political guidelines and institutions.

Overall, the special issue shows that although the SDGs can be important for strengthening civil society, they are not a sufficient framework to address environmental and human rights issues in Latin America. In the implementation of the SDGs it is often the case that only certain goals are taken into account while others are ignored. The SDGs then do not automatically lead to more sustainable and inclusive development. While this special issue focused on Latin America, the findings reflect some of the concerns that have also been highlighted in relation to the SDGs globally, as set out in the recently published first comprehensive global assessment of the political impact of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Concepts, Markets, and Regulations: hurdles and opportunities for a sustainable Bioeconomy in Brazil

by Guilherme de Queiroz Stein, Trevor Tisler, and Renan Magalhães

On December 14th, 2021, the SABio project held a workshop on the Brazilian Bioeconomy. SABio researchers Guilherme de Queiroz Stein and Trevor Tisler organized and facilitated the event which saw the gathering of 45 participants from various governmental, academic, non-profit, and private sector organizations who are committed to the development of a sustainable bioeconomy in Brazil. The main objective of the event was to promote an open debate and an exchange of experiences related to how the addition of new laws related to biodiversity, conservation and ecological restauration to Brazil’s environmental legal framework may shape the development of Brazil’s bioeconomy.

“Gerardo Germano da Silva harvesting agroecological cotton in Ceará, Brazil” by farmingmatters. Licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

At the onset of the debate among workshop attendees, the existence of different understandings and perspectives on what the bioeconomy is (and what it is not) were discussed, and moreover, how these differences guide separate and distinctive promotion and regulatory strategies for various bioeconomic activities throughout Brazil. The conceptual heterogeneity surrounding the bioeconomy poses methodological challenges to research projects and policy formulation. However, as this reflects the inherent complex and diverse characteristics of the bioeconomy, heterogeneous understandings cannot be ignored. For this reason, the conceptual development of the bioeconomy is still a hurdle to overcome, especially in the context of Latin America, where realities are much different than those in which the European and North American concepts of the bioeconomy were formed. In Europe and North America, the bioeconomy is repeatedly defined by the traditional boundaries of the economic sectors in which it is considered to cover and by the products these sectors develop. These sectors include agriculture, bioenergy, food production, biomass processing, high value-added biotech products, and biodegradable waste. Albeit important components of Brazil’s economy, such a limiting focus on traditional sectors and products overshadows Brazil’s potential for broader bioeconomic development especially if focus is placed upon processes of production rather than on the products produced.

Photo by Guilherme de Queiroz Stein

Workshop participants overwhelmingly emphasized that the concept of the Brazilian Bioeconomy needs to be formed in face of the country’s unique realities and potentials, which include placing the country’s biodiversity, immense natural capital, and socio-cultural diversity as central elements of the bioeconomy. The employment of these potentials must translate into the development of new activities, sectors, and industries capable of increasing aggregate value while simultaneously fostering endogenous development dynamics that break Brazil’s dependency on commodity and biomass export-oriented development. To this end, the economic dynamics in which these new processes operate must be monitored and their contribution to sustainable development must be quantified. Sustainability depends less on what is produced, but rather more on how and to what extent adopted business models, constructed values chains, and developed governance arrangements ensure environmental preservation, promote pro-social development, and respect human rights. In this light, the promotion of a new bioeconomy is necessary, one capable of valuing the immense diversity-based potentials and which can be attained via payments for ecosystem services, industrialization of natural products, and ecological recovery of degraded landscapes and lands. Furthermore, there is a place for the promotion of low-carbon agriculture, agroforestry systems, as well as innovations coming from bioprospecting, molecular biology, biomimicry and the use of micro-organisms for industrial solutions.

“Quebradeira de Côco Babaçu – Brasil – Tocantins – Pequizeiro ” by JcPietro. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

The legal frameworks that regulate the development of the aforementioned sectors will be important in the structuring of their future markets and for setting boundaries to the expansion of the bioeconomy, the parameters of which should focus on guaranteeing the bioeconomy’s socio-environmental sustainability. Nonetheless, these parameters by and of themselves, will not suffice to lock down on a guaranteed sustainable development trajectory. The commitment of actors involved in ensuring the sustainability of the processes and products of Brazil’s bioeconomy is of utmost necessity, arising from investment in new business models for both profitability and generating well-being. Furthermore, the implementation of policies to tackle bottlenecks is essential, and may involve remedying the lack of professional training in strategic geographic regions, ending the scarcity of venture capital and start-up support services, as well as bring stabilized and sustained levels of public investment in scientific research and innovation to avoid sudden budget cuts.

It must be emphasized that the creation of new markets, such as those linked to carbon emissions markets and ecosystem services, will only find stable footing and consumer confidence through verifiable environmental compliance and tangible progress toward meeting Brazil’s internationally assumed environmental commitments. This hinges on the reestablishment of the Brazilian state’s command and control capacities, especially in the environmental area, with an emphasis on achieving zero deforestation in Brazil as quickly as possible. The current political trajectory guiding Brazil’s federal administrative apparatus likely poses the largest current hurdle to achieving the aforementioned goals, as it has -beyond deprioritizing the goals- moved to deliberately reduce the capacity of state agencies to ensure and maintain environmental protections as well as promoted predatory activities such as, but not limited to, illegal and unregulated mining in the Amazon.

Photo by Guilherme de Queiroz Stein

Both regulatory policies in combination with active promotion of the bioeconomy will only be capable of achieving social inclusion if the active participation of civil society is guaranteed through adequate mechanisms in the formulation, implementation, and monitoring stages of the public policy process. Appropriate valuation (beyond the scope of monetary value) of the country’s ecosystems and their immense biodiversity should only occur with active engagement and dialog with indigenous peoples and their knowledge systems, traditional communities (including but not limited to Brazil’s maroon communities), and smallholder farmers, segments of which have developed and maintained knowledge systems and management practices for the sustainable use of biodiversity. A pre-condition for such a dialogue requires that the basic human rights of these peoples are guaranteed, which includes secure tenure and free unhampered access to their lands. This condition can only be achieved in a democratic state, in which the defense of democratic values becomes a fundamental factor for the promotion of a new bioeconomy that genuinely promotes sustainable development.

Below you will find the links shared by workshop participants, which include scientific publications related to the bioeconomy in Brazil and around the world as well as websites for Brazilian projects and research groups working on bioeconomy topics.


Links

A sustainable bioeconomy for Europe: https://knowledge4policy.ec.europa.eu/publication/sustainable-bioeconomy-europe-strengthening-connection-between-economy-society_en

Bioeconomia da Sociobiodiversidade no estado do Pará: https://www.tnc.org.br/content/dam/tnc/nature/en/documents/brasil/projeto_amazonia_bioeconomia.pdf

Coalizão Brasil Clima, Florestas e Agricultura: https://www.coalizaobr.com.br/home/index.php/o-que-propomos/posicionamentos-coalizao/2206-forca-tarefa-de-bioeconomia-da-coalizao-define-posicao-e-propostas-de-acoes-sobre-o-tema 

Diálogo Florestal: https://dialogoflorestal.org.br/foruns-regionais/forum-florestal-da-amazonia/

Financing mechanisms to bridge the resource gap to conserve biodiversity and ecosystem services in Brazil: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212041621000796

Fórum Florestal da Amazônia – Plano Estratégico: https://dialogoflorestal.org.br/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/ff-amazonia-planejamento-estrategico.pdf

Grupo de Economia do Meio Ambiente e Desenvolvimento Sustentável (GEMA) – UFRJ: www.ie.ufrj.br/gema

Grupo de Pesquisa SABio: https://sabio-project.org/pt/portugues/ 

Portal de Bioeconomia: https://portaldebioeconomia.com/

Science Panel for the Amazon – Amazon Assessment Report 2021: https://www.theamazonwewant.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/211112-Amazon-Assessment-Report-2021-Part-III-reduced.pdf 

Onde Estamos na Implementação do Código Florestal? Radiografia do CAR e do PRA nos Estados Brasileiros – Edição 2020: https://www.climatepolicyinitiative.org/pt-br/publication/onde-estamos-na-implementacao-do-codigo-florestal-radiografia-do-car-e-do-pra-nos-estados-brasileiros/

Lei nº 13.123/2015 (Acesso ao Patrimônio Genético e Conhecimento Tradicional Associado): http://www.planalto.gov.br/ccivil_03/_ato2015-2018/2015/lei/l13123.htm

Decreto nº 8.772/2016 (regulamenta Lei nº 13.123/2015): http://www.planalto.gov.br/ccivil_03/_ato2015-2018/2016/decreto/d8772.htm

Decreto nº 10.844/2021 (altera Decreto nº 8.772/2016): http://www.planalto.gov.br/ccivil_03/_Ato2019-2022/2021/Decreto/D10844.htm

What do bioeconomy experts think?

by Guilherme de Queiroz Stein [1]

Neste artigo, discuto alguns dos principais resultados encontrados no relatório Designing Sustainability Governance for the Bioeonomy – a Global Expert Survey (Dietz, Rubio, and Börner 2020). Fruto de uma pesquisa feita com 282 especialistas em bioeconomia do mundo todo, o relatório discute políticas e arranjos de governança que favoreçam transições para uma bioeconomia sustentável. Conceitualmente, está interessado em estudar como diferentes países vem adotando regras e políticas para impulsionar novas rotas de desenvolvimento. O pressuposto é que, além de políticas de suporte para que agentes privados possam obter sucesso econômico, é necessário estabelecer políticas regulatórias que lidem com consequências não desejadas do desenvolvimento bioeconômico, como o uso intensivo de recursos hidráulicos, mudanças nos usos do solo e aumento no desmatamento.

Em relação às políticas em vigor, à maior parte é direcionada para estruturar a oferta (supply side policies), com suporte à pesquisa e desenvolvimento, garantias à propriedade intelectual e alocação de incentivos econômicos. Com menor peso, também tem surgido políticas orientadas para fomentar a demanda, especialmente aquelas que objetivam elevar o nível de consciência social a respeito do consumo de produtos da bioeconomia. Outro ponto importante é que a bioeconomia não se desenvolve em um vácuo regulatório. Pelo contrário, 75% dos especialistas reportaram a existência de medidas regulatórias para lidar com consequências negativas, tais elevações excessivas no uso de água e mudanças no uso da terra. Também cresce de importância a percepção de que remover subsídios aos combustíveis fósseis e estabelecer impostos sobre emissão de carbono serão medidas cruciais para se avançar em transições sustentáveis.

Contudo, apesar de uma grande difusão mundo afora dos mais diversos arranjos de governanças, tanto políticas de fomento, quanto de regulação parecem sofrer de problemas de implementação. Para a maior parte dos especialistas, as políticas implementadas possuem efetividade média ou baixa, alertando para o fato de que pode haver um gap entre formulação e implementação. Provavelmente, o maior gap diz respeito a atingir objetivos de sustentabilidade, uma vez que há uma forte percepção de que o desenvolvimento da bioeconomia mundo a fora tem falhado em equilibrar objetivos sociais, econômicos e ambientais.

Para se avançar no desenvolvimento bioeconômico, entre as soluções apontadas pelos pesquisados estão a melhoria nas condições de financiamento, estebelcimento de parcerias público-privadas, promoção do acesso ao crédito às start-ups e envolvimento direto dos governos na comercialização de produtos. Ainda, melhorar a coordenação governamental, ampliar os espaços para diferentes partes interessadas participarem dos processos de formulação das políticas e estabelecer canais de comunicação são vistos como ações cruciais para se obter melhores políticas. No plano internacional, será crescente o peso de padrões regulatórios para o comércio exterior de setores ligados à bioeconomia, bem como o estabelecimento de metas de desenvolvimento compartilhadas entre os países, com exemplicado pelos Objetivos de Desenvolvimento Sustentável adotados em 2015.

Também foi solicitado aos especialistas para avaliar o nível de sucesso em inovação bioeconômica de diferentes setores. Entre aqueles com maior sucesso em aplicar de forma inovadora princípios e processos biológicos estavam os de química industrial, geração de energia, indústria alimentícia e agricultura. Geração de conhecimento e tecnologia, estabelecimento de parcerias e colaboração e um contexto nacional favorável foram os principais fatores apontados como determinantes desse sucesso.

Por fim, cabe algumas reflexões sobre os caminhos da pesquisa sobre bioeconomia por parte de cientistas políticos. Há muito o que se conhecer sobre o que determina a adoção de instrumentos de fomento e regulação e também sobre a forma como diferentes contextos institucionais favorecem a participação e o protagonismo de diferentes atores, com interesses e percepções próprios da bieconomia. Do mesmo modo, é preciso olhar para a fase de implementação dessas políticas, buscando identificar as causas de sua baixa efetividade e entender os fatores que possam contribuir para alcançar seus objetivos. Ainda, chama a atenção que muitos especialistas consideram que um contexto nacional favorável é um dos fatores de maior importância para o sucesso econômico de inovações nessa área. Mas fica a pergunta, o que seria um “contexto nacional favorável” para a bioeconomia? Acredito que aqui temos uma porta de entrada importante para a Ciência Política, especialmente em compreender a forma como arranjos macro-institucionais, capacidades estatais, ideologias partidárias e cenários políticos instáveis afetam a formulação e a implementação de políticas para a bioeconomia, bem como as expectativas e decisões tomadas pelos agentes de mercado.

Dietz, Thomas, Karla Rubio, and Jan Börner. 2020. Designing Sustainability Governance for the Bioeconomy – a Global Expert Survey. Berlin: International Advisory Council on Global Bioeconomy. https://gbs2020.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/GBS-2020_Expert-Survey_web.pdf (accessed 24.11.2020).


[1] Pesquisador doutoral no projeto “Transformation and Sustainability Governance in South American Bioeconomies”, na Universidade de Münster, Alemanha.

Towards a global agreement on sustainable bioeconomy: Is the G20 the alternative?

by Melisa Deciancio [1]

En medio de la crisis global desatada por la pandemia, se llevó adelante la cumbre del G20 organizada por Arabia Saudita y, por primera vez, en un formato virtual. Los líderes de los países más desarrollados del norte y del sur global se congregaron una vez más, como lo hacen desde el año 2008, para coordinar políticas de cara a problemáticas ya no sólo financieras sino también ambientales y sociales. En esta oportunidad, la expansión del COVID-19 por todos los rincones de la tierra puso sobre la mesa una nueva forma de amenaza a las economías globales con un manifiesto impacto en la salud y vidas de los ciudadanos así como también en el empleo, la pobreza y la desigualdad. En este contexto y como parte de un proceso de ampliación de las agendas de competencia del Grupo, el G20 refleja la necesidad de coordinación global de cada vez más temas y problemáticas. La agenda de bioeconomía ha sido incorporada recientemente en las discusiones del Grupo y abre la puerta a reflexionar sobre las posibilidades que la coordinación y compromisos globales tienen para el impulso de modelos de desarrollo más sustentables. Especialistas en el tema coincidieron en la necesidad de acordar prioridades y mecanismos de evaluación a nivel global con el fin de ponderar el peso que la bioeconomía tiene en la economía global (El-Chichakli et al., 2016). Esto también se vio reflejado la Encuesta a expertos en bioeconomía realizada en el marco del Global Bioeconomy Summit 2020 donde se manifiesta la necesidad de mayor coordinación en la política internacional de comercio y desarrollo para lidiar con las brechas en la gobernanza de la bioeconomía (Global Bioeconomy Summit, 2020)

El G20 nuclea a los principales exportadores agrícolas del mundo, concentra a los mayores comerciantes de commodities, y a los grandes productores de biocombustibles (cuya producción y uso ha sido impulsada por los gobiernos a través de políticas y estrategias nacionales). Sin embargo, la bioeconomía per se no ha sido incorporada como parte de la agenda económica global hasta la cumbre de 2018 en Buenos Aires, Argentina, y, formalmente, en esta última cumbre en Arabia Saudita. Muchas de las cuestiones relacionadas a la bioeconomía han estado presente en el grupo a través del impulso de agendas globales específicas como el desarrollo sustentable, el cambio climático, la seguridad alimentaria, la agricultura sustentable, y la bioenergía. Así, como parte de sus compromisos globales, el grupo mantiene un acuerdo en el esfuerzo por alcanzar las metas establecidas por los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible (ODS) a través de la creación, en el año 2010, del Grupo de Trabajo sobre Desarrollo (en inglés, Development Working Group) en Seúl (G20, 2010). La inclusión de la agenda de desarrollo abrió la posibilidad para pensar el desarrollo como una política pública global (Kloke-lesch, 2015) e ir incorporando agendas por fuera de las meramente financieras. Desde que en 2015 la presidencia turca incorporó la sostenibilidad como parte del desarrollo, el trabajo del G20 en esta problemática fue cambiando y expandiéndose conforme la agenda global lo exigía, con el objetivo de contribuir a la provisión de bienes públicos globales y respaldar la integración de los países en desarrollo a la economía global sustentable. El nuevo informe elaborado en 2019, da cuenta del incremento de acciones del grupo en los diversos sectores del desarrollo sostenible (OECD, 2019).

Fuente: (OECD, 2019)

La agenda de desarrollo sostenible trajo aparejada la inclusión de otras agendas ligadas a la bioeconomía. La seguridad alimentaria fue incluida en la agenda en 2010 por Francia, generando optimismo sobre la posibilidad de desarrollar políticas comunes frente a la crisis alimentaria, la volatilidad de los precios de los alimentos y las disputas en torno al acceso a los alimentos para los países con mayor dependencia de los precios de mercado internacionales. Sin embargo, no logró avanzar en estos objetivos como se esperaba, poniendo el foco en medidas “paliativas” al sistema de gobernanza de los alimentos en lugar de generando propuestas que apuntaran a una restructuración del marco regulatorio que proteja a los países en desarrollo de los shocks externos y la volatilidad en los precios de los alimentos (Clapp & Murphy, 2013). En esa instancia, las políticas de biocombustibles de las cuales emerge el debate entre alimentos vs biocombustibles en los países en desarrollo fueron abordadas de manera marginal y sin demasiada precisión. Por su parte, la agenda de bioenergía fue incorporada en 2016 en la cumbre de Hangzhou, China, en colaboración con el International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) y otros organismos como IEA Bioenergy con el objetivo de apuntalar la implementación del Global Bioenergy Partnership (GBEP) y sus indicadores de sustentabilidad para promover el uso de la bioenergía. Sin embargo, aun no se han logrado grandes avances que permitan vislumbrar, más allá de las buenas intenciones y declaraciones, la posibilidad de coordinación de compromisos comunes (Bastos Lima & Gupta, 2013).

La bioeconomía fue incorporada en la agenda del G20 en la cumbre de Buenos Aires, Argentina en 2018. La discusión se desarrolló en el seno del Think 20 (T20), liderada por académicos y funcionarios de América Latina que formaron parte del grupo especializado en Seguridad alimentaria y agricultura sustentable. Como resultado, muchos postulados de la bioeconomía relacionados con la producción agrícola sustentable fueron incorporados en el documento final del T20 (T20, 2018) y en la declaración oficial de la reunión de Ministros de Agricultura, señalando que “la bioeconomía basada en el uso responsable de los recursos naturales y la conversión de los flujos de desechos agrícolas en productos de valor agregado puede potencialmente contribuir a alcanzar la seguridad alimentaria y, además, puede usarse de manera efectiva para desarrollar los espacios y las economías rurales. Por ende, subrayamos la importancia del desarrollo de la bioeconomía para la implementación efectiva de sistemas productivos que garanticen un uso sostenible del suelo” (G20, 2018, p. 6).

Reunión de Ministros de Agricultura del G20, Cumbre de Buenos Aires, 27 y 28 de julio de 2018. Fuente: Clarín, https://www.clarin.com/rural/bioeconomia-eje-aspiracional-20_0_H1J_slmSm.html

Este primer impulso condujo a una nueva propuesta promovida también desde América Latina (principalmente Argentina), para la inclusión formal del tema en la agenda. Así, para la cumbre de Arabia Saudita se elaboró un documento en el marco del T20 para el impulso de la bioeconomía como camino para el cumplimiento de los ODS a nivel global (Chavarria et al., 2020). La propuesta apunta a la necesidad de desarrollar un marco global compartido para el desarrollo de estrategias nacionales de bioeconomía, con foco en tres líneas de acción específicas: 1) un acuerdo de principios rectores para el desarrollo de políticas globales de bioeconomía, 2) un marco confiable de indicadores de bioeconomía; y 3) una plataforma efectiva para la gestión del conocimiento en bioeconomía (Chavarria et al., 2020).

  1. Coordinación de esfuerzos para compartir y diseminar información y experiencias
    La primera propuesta radica en la necesidad compartir información y experiencias sobre bioeconomía para lograr políticas e inversiones más efectivas para su desarrollo. Aquí cobran un lugar central los bancos de desarrollo, especialmente para lo países de menores ingresos, que son, a la vez, líderes en muchos sectores de la bioeconomía. En esta tarea, el G20 podría ser una plataforma desde donde nuclear a expertos en políticas relacionadas a la bioeconomía y desarrollo sustentable que sirva para el impulso de la bioeconomía sustentable a nivel global y de manera coordinada.
  2. Indicadores confiables de bioeconomía que guíen la toma de decisiones e inversiones y monitoreo de progreso hacía objetivos
    Ante la falta de mecanismos de medición que permitan cuantificar y comparar las diversas bioeconomías nacionales, la segunda propuesta radica en desarrollar un sistema armonizado de definiciones y medición de la bioeconomía coordinado a nivel global. Esto permitiría tener un mayor y mejor conocimiento acerca no sólo del impacto de la bioeconomía en la economía de los países sino también su impacto en otros indicadores de sustentabilidad de cara al cumplimiento de los ODS.
  3. Sintetizar buenas prácticas para el desarrollo de políticas públicas en bioeconomía
    La tercera propuesta apunta a fortalecer las estrategias nacionales de bioeconomía de los miembros del G20 con el objetivo de impulsar su desarrollo a nivel global. Para eso sería necesario que el G20 lidere un consorcio de organizaciones internacionales de cooperación para la elaboración de un documento de buenas prácticas para el desarrollo de políticas públicas en bioeconomía. Esto colaboraría con la transición hacia un modelo de desarrollo más sustentable basado en las experiencias de muchos de sus miembros y que permita identificar las potencialidades y oportunidades de política pública de cada país para el desarrollo de la bioeconomía.

Estas tres propuestas sirven como punto de partida para pensar instancias de coordinación global de la bioeconomía y la manera en que dichas instancias pueden aprovecharse para impulsar modelos de producción más sustentables pero que, a su vez, reconozcan las diferencias entre países, sus potencialidades y también necesidades. El G20 puede emerger como una plataforma para dicho objetivo. A pesar de la variedad de críticas que el foro ha recibido en torno a su capacidad de enforcement o de realizar cambios sustanciales en las políticas, la existencia de mecanismos de coordinación en estas agendas sirve de impulso para negociaciones paralelas que surgen de la propia instancia global. La gobernanza global puede no ser la solución a todo, pero algunas agendas se pueden beneficiar fuertemente de ella para tomar impulso. La cumbre de Italia en 2021 será una nueva plataforma para observar el avance de una agenda global en bioeconomía sustentable y una nueva oportunidad para los países de la región de impulsar temas centrales para su desarrollo económico.

Referencias

Bastos Lima, M. G., & Gupta, J. (2013). The Policy Context of Biofuels: A Case of Non-Governance at the Global Level? Global Environmental Politics, 13(2), 46–64. https://doi.org/10.1162/GLEP

Chavarria, H., Trigo, E., Villareal, F., Elverdin, P., & Piñeiro, V. (2020). Bioeconomy: A sustainable Development Strategy. https://www.g20-insights.org/policy_briefs/bioeconomy-a-sustainable-development-strategy/

Clapp, J., & Murphy, S. (2013). The G20 and Food Security: A Mismatch in Global Governance? Global Policy, 4(2), 129–138. https://doi.org/10.1111/1758-5899.12039

El-Chichakli, B., von Braun, J., Lang, C., Barben, D., & Philip, J. (2016). Five cornerstones of a global bioeconomy. Nature, 535, 221–223.

G20. (2010). The G20 Seul Summit Leader’s Declaration. In G20. https://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/newsroom/statements-and-speeches/WCMS_146479/lang–en/index.htm

G20. (2018). Declaración G20, Reunión de Ministros de Agricultura, Buenos Aires. http://www.g20.utoronto.ca/2018/2018-07-28-declaracion_ministros_de_agricultura_es.pdf

Global Bioeconomy Summit. (2020). Designing Sustainability Governance for the Bioeconomy – a Global Expert Survey. https://bit.ly/37UFQBJ

Kloke-lesch, A. (2015). The G20 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Reflections on future roles and tasks. 1–11. http://www.g20.utoronto.ca/biblio/Kloke-Lesch_G20_and_SDGs.pdf

OECD. (2019). G20 contribution to the 2030 Agenda. Progress and way forward. http://www.oecd.org/dev/OECD-UNDP-G20-SDG-Contribution-Report.pdf

T20. (2018). Comuniqué T20 Summit 2018, Argentina. In G20 Summit Buenos Aires. https://t20argentina.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Communiqué-T20-Argentina.pdf


[1] Melisa Deciancio es investigadora del proyecto “Transformation and Sustainability Governance in South American Bioeconomies” de la Universidad de Münster, Alemania e Investigadora de CONICET, Argentina.

SABio Second Interdisciplinary Colloquium, November 2020

By Daniel Kefeli* and Pablo Mac Clay**

The 2nd colloquium was held virtually on November 12-13, 2020. In this second joint activity, junior researchers presented topics, questions, and methods for their doctoral proposals. This event offered the possibility to get feedback from senior researchers, members of the steering committee and external advisors, who engaged in methodological and theoretical discussions related to each proposal. 

From the Bonn research group, María Eugenia Silva Carrazzone presented possible research questions for a sustainable bioeconomy in Uruguay. From a public policy perspective, María Eugenia presented research questions that may help to shape the bioeconomy strategy in the country: which is the maximum volume of biomass that can be sustainably produced, what are the main technologies for a sustainable biomass transformation and what might be the steps needed to meet consumers requirement in the bioeconomy. 

Later, Pablo Mac Clay presented research ideas related to the connection of value chain analysis and innovation pathways in the bioeconomy. Since there is no overarching theoretical framework to understand the bioeconomy from a value chain perspective, this emerges as a research opportunity to understand how value chain features may foster or hinder bioeconomic upgrading. 

Finally, Trevor Tisler presented the bioeconomy as a wicked problem, where no clear-cut solutions emerge and there are no ‘panaceas’ in terms of which are the best pathways to follow. Applying it to Brazil’s future economic transition, Trevor presented a preliminary analysis applying a spatial application of the law to the RenovaBio project. Then he presented the idea to work deeper on the concept of socio-ecological systems and try to identify potential areas that increase environmental value-added in the country, where sustainable forms of production may help to restore biodiversity. 

On the second day, the Münster group presented their research ideas from the Political Sciences perspective. Guilherme Stein presented an analysis to better understand the political processes that led to an agenda of policies around the concept of bioeconomy in Brazil, between 2016-2020. Starting from a literature review and a conceptual framework, Guilherme emphasized the need to increase knowledge on the processes underlying the emergence of certain policies, in particular bioeconomy policies. 

Then Daniel Kefeli presented an analysis oriented to explore to what extent bioeconomy-related policies in Uruguay interacted to promote the sustainability of the forestry sector between 2005-2019. The forestry sector is a relevant one in the Uruguayan economy and has a long-term policy, while at the same time there are strong concerns about the environmental consequences. Based on concepts of policy interaction and policy coherence, Daniel presented his research project as an opportunity to explore how institutions interact and how this can lead to enhanced policy coordination. 

Finally, Melisa Deciancio presented a post-doctoral research project to explore Argentina’s insertion strategy in the global economy through bioeconomy. Based on her international relations (IR) background, Melisa based her proposal on the broad question of how IR theories contribute to understanding the bioeconomy as a global process. In this line, Argentina is a relevant global player in commodity markets, with high availability of biomass. She intends to explore how global and regional arrangements, and international actors, enable or constrain the governance in South America, how Argentina’s international cooperation links to the bioeconomy and what are the possible outcomes for the country from an international insertion strategy through the bioeconomy. 

After each of the junior researcher’s presentations, a brief discussion session took place between all the assistants to the colloquium, to get deeper around issues presented by the researchers and tackle different types of issues that may come up during the doctoral process. Also, ideas for better framing of the different research questions and methodological approaches were discussed. 

This second formal joint colloquium permitted an integration by different members of the SABio team, and allowed to hold an insightful discussion around the doctoral proposals. Based on the suggestions and comments they received, now it is time for each of the junior researchers to continue with the proposals and move forward with more specific methodological approaches.

* Daniel is a Junior Researcher at the University of Münster
** Pablo is Junior Researcher at the Center for Development Research (Universität Bonn)

SABio Interdisciplinary PhD Colloquia

By Trevor Tisler and Melisa Deciancia*

The first SABio interdisciplinary PhD colloquium was held on August 17th to 19th bringing together researchers and PhD student from both the Institute of Political Science (IfPol) at the University of Münster and the Center for Development Research (ZEF) at the University of Bonn. The colloquium centered on exploratory case studies of the bioeconomies in the three countries of SABio’s focus, which include: Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. Along with lively discussion from bioeconomy experts and advisors from South America and Europe, SABio’s researchers and PhD students presented exploratory investigations of each country’s bioeconomic strategies and policies from several Social Science perspectives. From Economics to Environmental Studies, Political Sciences and International Relations, the necessary multidisciplinary perspectives for investigating South America’s bioeconomic development were represented by the group’s interdisciplinarity. In this sense, the colloquium served as a starting point for in depth discussion on the South American bioeconomies’ characteristics, challenges and future possibilities as well as for opening new research enquiries.

The first day of the colloquium focused on the presentation and analysis of the Argentine case, carried out by Melisa Deciancio and Pablo McClay. The Uruguayan case was addressed on the second day, led by the presentations of Maria Eugenia Silva Carrazzone and Daniel Kefeli. On the last day of the colloquium the Brazilian case was introduced by Trevor Tisler and Guilherme Stein.

The two groups were accompanied by the presence of bioeconomy experts from academia and policy making, including: Roberto Feeney (Austral University, Argentina), Eduardo Trigo (IICA), Francisco Rosas (Universidad ORT, Uruguay), Raoni Rajão (Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil), Sascha Stark (ZEF, Germany), Fernanda Martinellli (ZEF, Germany), Jorge Sellare (ZEF, Germany), Jan Börner (ZEF, Germany), Karen Siegel (IfPol, Germany), and Thomas Dietz (IfPol, Germany).

* Trevor Tisler is a junior researcher at the Center for Development Research (ZEF) and Melisa Deciancio is a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Münster.