Constructing a sustainable bioecnomy: Multi-scalar perceptions of sustainability

Document Type

Book Chapter

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Bioenergy holds significant promise to mitigate the climate-related problems associated with fossil fuel use in heat, electricity, and transportation fuel production. Many governments are encouraging bioeconomy growth with new policies. International trade between bioenergy producing and consuming nations has increased over the years. Developed countries with significant greenhouse gas emission (GHG) emission reduction goals are replacing fossil fuels with bioenergy, creating new export commodities for developing nations. However, increased bioeconomy development can put local social, economic, and environmental conditions in bioenergy producing areas at risk. To minimize the potentially adverse impacts of bioenergy development on existing socioeconomic and environmental conditions, several sustainability certification programs have recently been developed. However, there may be significant differences in how actors across multiple scales, including international non-governmental organizations, state and national governments, and local community members perceive a sustainable bioeconomy. In this chapter, we look specifically at two bioenergy development cases, one in the context of economic development in Latin America (jatropha-based bioenergy development in Yucatan, Mexico) and another in the context of a post-industrialized nation (wood-based bioenergy development in Wisconsin, USA) to understand how different actors view sustainability. Our conclusions suggest that, first, developing a sustainable bioeconomy requires addressing sustainability in all stages in the supply chain, and that, second, community perceptions matter in developing a sustainable bioeconomy, thus there is value in a bottom-up approach to policymaking.

Publication Title

Towards a sustainable bioeconomy: Principles, challenges and perspectives