Friends or foes? A compatibility assessment of bioeconomy-related Sustainable Development Goals for European policy coherence

Tévécia Ronzon*, Ana I. Sanjuán

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In October 2018, the European Union (EU) launched an updated bioeconomy strategy with the aim of encouraging the substitution of fossil carbon with biomass feedstock in the industry and in energy production while preserving ecosystem services. The objective of the paper is to analyse the links between the EU bioeconomy strategy and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and to assess what could be the main points of synergies and tensions between bioeconomy-related SDG targets. By semantically mapping the action plan of the 2018 EU bioeconomy strategy with the SDG targets, the paper finds that the bioeconomy strategy is aligned with 53 targets distributed in 12 of the 17 SDGs. Ex-post correlation analysis on bioeconomy-related SDGs indicators for 28 EU Member States (1990–2018) shows a predominance of synergies over trade-offs. More intense synergetic past developments (positive correlations) are found among clean energies (SDG 7), recycling (SDG 11), ecosystem preservation (SDG 15) and most of all other bioeconomy-related SDGs. Negative correlations are observed between agro-biodiversity (SDG 2), domestic material consumption of biomass (SDG 8 and 12), agriculture and industrial developments (SDG 2 and SDG 9) and a wide array of bioeconomy-related SDG indicators. The hotspots of strong correlations identified might be useful in further enrichment of ex-ante simulation models. From a policy coherence perspective, a wide range of policy instruments are already in place in the EU to foster synergies and may bring co-benefits. Policies oriented at preventing trade-offs are already in place but they have not overcome the antagonisms observed in this study yet. Change in practices, technical and technological innovations and the application of circular and ‘cascading principles’ are the most common fields of action.

Original languageEnglish
Article number119832
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Volume254
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020

Keywords

  • Bioeconomy
  • Biomass
  • Correlation
  • Policy coherence
  • SDG

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