Fraunhofer IMW

Bioeconomy Summit 2020 – Workshop on Strategy Development in the Bioeconomy Presented by Fraunhofer Expert

News | Leipzig /

From November 16 to 20, 2020, the Global Bioeconomy Summit 2020 took place as a digital conference. More than 3,000 participants had registered for the event. With five plenary sessions and 12 interactive workshops and more than 100 high-profile speakers, the conference covered a wide range of debates around the bioeconomy. In addition, two interactive exhibitions, a social media wall, a networking area and a media corner complemented the virtual program. Pursuing the virtual event's goal of developing a sustainable bioeconomy, representatives from government, science, innovation, business and civil society, among others, joined together in the various online formats to exchange views on the opportunities and challenges of bioeconomy, as well as its role in solving global crises. 

On the occasion of this year's online International Bioeconomy Conference in Online Format, the Sustainable Bioeconomy Working Group of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Innovation Acceptance Unit of Fraunhofer IMW cooperated in hosting a three-hour workshop on "Moving towards a sustainable and circular economy: Bioeconomy Strategy Development" on November 17, 2020. The workshop used the FAO's Aspirational Principles and Criteria for Sustainable Bioeconomy as a starting point to discuss with representatives of different countries the strategic handling of synergies and trade-offs of different dimensions of a sustainable bioeconomy and to derive lessons learned. The event kicked off with a presentation by Ministerialrat Dr. Hans-Jürgen Froese of the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL), who highlighted the importance of innovative forms of biomass use for the establishment of a sustainable global economic system. Following the workshop kick-off, breakout sessions discussed the individual dimensions of sustainability against the backdrop of different country contexts. Fraunhofer IMW's contribution focused on the presentation of breakout session 4, which looked at the economic dimensions of sustainable bioeconomy development in Thailand, Brazil, Germany and Namibia. The perspective of Germany was contributed by the head of the Fraunhofer Center for Chemical-Biotechnological Processes CBP, Gerd Unkelbauch. Three further breakout sessions on the social, environmental and governance dimensions of sustainable bioeconomy development took place at the same time (Breakout Session 1, Breakout Session 2, Breakout Session 3).

At the end of the workshop, the compiled results were presented in a panel discussion. Henrik Beermann, deputy head of the Fraunhofer IMW's Innovation Acceptance Unit and host of Breakout Session 4 of the workshop, emphasized in the post-event review of the online conference above all that the insights of the workshop underline the high relevance of the diversity of local sustainability and bioeconomy contexts. "There are no patent recipes for establishing bio-based, economic development processes. The starting point for the successful design of international R&D collaborations is always a solid understanding of the local problem context of the respective project partners."

Fraunhofer IMW and Bioeconomy

Even before the Science Year 20/21, which is dedicated to the topic of bioeconomy, the international relevance of this topic was recognized by Fraunhofer IMW and taken up in its own research work. In this way, socio-economic research is to be used to address change processes at an early stage in order to be able to shape transformations in the best possible way. In 2017, Fraunhofer IMW in cooperation with Fraunhofer CBP supported the Thai National Science and Technology Development Agency NSTDA in establishing a local bioeconomy by creating the "Thai Biorefinery Industry Roadmap". Currently, the focus of activities is on the CARE project, which started in January 2020. The contribution of the Innovation Acceptance Unit to the project focuses on issues related to the acceptance and utilization of R&D results in the use of agricultural waste products of the rice value chain in Indonesia. Currently, further projects are being planned, e.g. in the area of development and use of bio-based plastics in Thailand.

As a milestone in international sustainability policy, the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015. These 17 development goals relate to solving major societal challenges. Fraunhofer's R&D results are particularly relevant for a number of the SDGs. With its international projects on the bioeconomy, Fraunhofer IMW makes a research contribution to the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, in particular: "affordable and clean energy", "Resilient infrastructure and sustainable industrialization" and "Strengthening means of implementation and global partnership".