Policy Challenges and Recommendations for developing the Bioeconomy in Ireland and the EU

May 11, 2024 | Climate Change, Farm Viability

The following article describes a policy report produced by the CoBioEcon Project. A collaboration between UCD and NUIG, funded by the DAFM. Full report available here.

INTRODUCTION

This article highlights some policy recommendations from research examining how EU bioeconomy policy is adapted at the national and regional levels, using Ireland as a case study.

ANALYTICAL FRAMEWORK

The analysis revealed the dominant underlying narratives present in EU and national bioeconomy policy articulated in four interrelated approaches to bioeconomy development:
1) The Research and Innovation Approach
2) The Partnership Approach
3) The Governance Approach
4) The Economic, Environmental and Social Sustainability Approach.

POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS

The following outlines key recommendations based on the four approaches to bioeconomy development in Ireland.

The Research and Innovation Approach
1) Primary producers should be more included and arguably lead bioeconomy development.
2) Primary producers should be more involved in decision-making.
3) Bioeconomy policy should be more focused as a modernising policy for rural areas and the agricultural businesses contained therein.
4) Policy development on the bioeconomy should include public consultation.
5) The approach of Irish policy should also include national examples, national benchmarks, and national experts.

The Partnership Approach
1) A stronger cross-sectoral coherence in policy is recommended.
2) A multifaceted coordination mechanism should be created.
3) Ireland should contribute to developing an internationally coordinated governance system.

The Governance Approach
1) Political solutions are needed to encourage change in consumer habits and the utilisation of waste and recycled materials.
2) A capable political management of competing objectives within the bioeconomy must be established.
3) A clear definition of marginal land to be described in order to avoid underutilisation of all suitable land types.
4) Soil quality should be assessed, and deforestation should not occur and should therefore be monitored.
5) The economic potential of land intended for biomass production (including marginal land) should be evaluated.

The Economic, Environmental and Social Sustainability Approach
1) Details on how the bioeconomy is related to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) should be provided in policy documents.
2) Irish policy needs to provide a strategy for the potential effects of the bioeconomy transition in relation to poverty, inequality, public health and the climate.

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