Opinion: A more bottom-up approach is needed to foster the bioeconomy transition

By Maria Beatriz Rosell and Dora Leitner, GEONARDO

“Bioeconomy promises to foster the transition from a fossil-based linear economy to a more sustainable yet competitive bio-based economy, addressing environmental, social and economic issues alike.

“Indeed the bioeconomy transition is high on the EU’s political agenda, as reflected in a number of documents, such as the updated EU Bioeconomy Strategy of 2018, the 2020 EU Green Deal, and the Circular Economy Action Plan of the same year.

“According to the EU Bioeconomy Strategy Progress Report released on 9 June 2022, 10 countries have already adopted a bioeconomy strategy or action plan to pave the way for the sustainable development of the bio-based sectors. Five out of the seven countries that are currently developing their national bioeconomy strategy are part of the Central Eastern European (CEE) region.

“Currently the CEE countries generally adopt a traditional and linear approach to their development policies, with more innovative and participatory approaches being underutilised. This is at odds with the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of the bioeconomy, which requires a wide range of experts and stakeholders to be involved in the various innovative processes and products.

“It is therefore becoming clear that Member States need to adopt a more bottom-up approach that will challenge the previous conceptualisations about how states, citizens and stakeholders interact with regards to natural resources governance.”

“There is also a growing demand for fostering public engagement and co-creation initiatives, in order to respond to localised challenges and create more targeted bioeconomy strategies.

“A new project launched this Autumn, CEE2ACT, aims to facilitate this, by empowering countries in Central Eastern Europe (Hungary, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia,) and beyond (Greece, Republic of Serbia) to develop circular bioeconomy strategies and action plans.

“CEE2ACT will apply an interactive collaborative approach that empowers the different stakeholders to discuss and work together on issues directly affecting their environment. Partners will identify and tackle knowledge gaps by applying a participatory bottom-up approach and focusing on targeted local issues of knowledge, skills, needs and experiences. This way, the project will not only foster the development of national bioeconomy strategies or action plans but also lead to an increased awareness of bioeconomy among various stakeholder groups and the general public.

“By helping to realize the vision of a European circular bioeconomy, in time CEE2ACT will facilitate the restructuring of industries, modernisation of production systems while also preserving biodiversity and the welfare of European citizens.”

Maria and Dora are part of the CEE2ACT coordination team at Geonardo. You can follow the project progress at: www.cee2act.eu and on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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