This was the Bioeconomy Forum 2022
In a diverse program, the German Bioeconomy Council presented the initial results of its work and discussed a wide variety of topics from the bioeconomy with experts from science, industry and politics over the course of two days.
According to the motto "What does the turning point mean for the transformation of society as a whole?", the Bioeconomy Forum 2022 highlighted the contributions of the bioeconomy to the transformation and solution paths that can be used to successfully shape a sustainable bioeconomy across disciplines and sectors. The following questions were among those in focus:
- How can crises be better managed with the help of the bioeconomy?
- What contribution to a sustainable transformation can the bioeconomy make?
- What needs to happen to ensure that the potential of the bioeconomy is actually exploited?
These and many other questions were discussed in panel discussions and plenary sessions with stakeholders from politics, academia, industry and civil society, and debated in interactive formats and surveys with a total of over 320 participants. In this way, experts from the bioeconomy worked together on solution-oriented ideas and suggestions for recommendations for action to policymakers. These will be evaluated in the follow-up to the event and will flow into further Council work when it comes to developing recommendations for action for the German government.
After a keynote speech on the international and European significance of the bioeconomy by Peter Wehrheim (Head of Unit Bioeconomy and Food Systems of the EU Commission), the German Bioeconomy Council discussed food and energy security with stakeholders from politics and industry. A particular highlight was the panel discussion with State Secretaries Silvia Bender (BMEL) and Judith Pirscher (BMBF). In this context, Pirscher clearly advocated focusing on innovation and a combination of all available technologies. This, she said, is necessary to counter crises while already thinking about the future.
"We want to set the pace and dare to make more progress," said the BMBF state secretary. Silvia Bender stressed the importance of "increasingly relying on residual and waste materials and always thinking about climate, environmental and species protection in biomass production." Overall, she said, security of supply can be ensured in a resource-conserving way without losing sight of environmental protection. The key point here is that raw materials used in the bioeconomy do not compete with food production. Iris Lewandowski, co-chair of the German Bioeconomy Council, emphasized the role of the bioeconomy in this context, which "offers a holistic view of solutions to complex problems" and can thus also serve the necessary dialogue between relevant actors from different sectors.
Following the discussion, Stefanie Heiden and Michael Böcher presented the current brochure on the bioeconomy in the German states to the two state secretaries on behalf of the entire council. Further information on the brochure can be found here.
The first day was concluded by a discussion round with Council members Jürgen Eck and Stefanie Heiden, who spoke with Thorsten Billing (KfW) and Uwe Cantner (EFI Expert Commission). The discussion focused on how the impact of innovations can be increased in order to implement the transformation towards a bioeconomy. The scaling up to industrial scale and the reduction of bureaucratic hurdles turned out to be particularly important.
The transformation of the economy and greater independence from fossil raw materials were central themes of the panel discussion on the second day of the event. The parliamentary state secretary of the BMWK, Michael Kellner, called for all efforts to be made to tackle this transformation. The other experts on the panel also called for the bioeconomy to be embedded in the necessary social transformation. They said it was important to decouple the idea of prosperity from resource consumption.
The brochure on the bioeconomy in the German states was also handed over to state secretaries Michael Kellner (BMWK) and Stefan Tidow (BMUV) on the second day of the event.
The second half of the day was devoted entirely to the specific topics developed in the Bioeconomy Council:
- Iris Lewandowski and Ulrike Grote presented the state of discussion on relevant measures to diversify land management. The focus was on approaches such as agri-photovoltaics, agroforestry and perennial planting systems.
- Markus Wolperdinger and Daniela Thrän then discussed the faster market introduction of biorefineries and the use of raw and residual materials, which have received less attention to date.
- Thomas Brück and Viola Bronsema addressed sustainable food supply, the benefits of alternative protein sources and how to increase the attractiveness of these foods.
- In a statement, Felix Prinz zu Löwenstein called for a clear framework for resource conservation and pointed out that there are still gaps in knowledge to be closed in this area.
- Finally, a panel discussion was devoted to the topic of carbon accounting. Only when the quantity of available carbon is clearly defined and the material flows precisely identified can the necessary measures be evaluated and analyzed on the basis of facts. Here, Ralf Kindervater spoke with Raoul Meys (Carbon Minds) and Tina Buchholz (German Chemical Industry Association).
In her summary of the past two days, the co-chair, Daniela Thrän, was pleased that the participants and the council members were able to experience the Bioeconomy Forum 2022 as "a firework of actors, activities and suggestions".
The Bioeconomy Council sincerely thanks everyone for a successful event and looks forward to the next Bioeconomy Forum 2023!
For all those who did not have the opportunity to follow the forum live or who would like to watch individual contributions again afterwards, a recording can be found on the Youtube channel of the Bioeconomy Council.