The final conference of EFFAT bioeconomy project took place in Brussels on 3 October. The project focused on the implications of bioeconomy in terms of job creation and required skills of workers in the food and agriculture sectors, and also considered linkages with other activities and industries. The project allowed the elaboration of recommendations aimed at promoting the development of a socially, economically and environmentally sustainable bioeconomy.
Ms. Elsi Katainen, Member of the European Parliament, Vice-Chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, who opened the conference, stressed that:
“In terms of climate change, we must phase-out fossil fuels. Bio-economy is part of the solution. In addition to replacing fossil raw materials, the bio-economy contributes to carbon storage and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the production chain. The bio-economy as a part of a vibrant rural areas and the mitigation of climate change are among the key objectives of future EU agricultural policy.”
Ms. Katainen added that “The future bio-economy is both global and local. While developing near-field solutions, for example, for renewable energy production, the foundations for global solutions are created. In the future bio-economy, for example food will be produced locally, close to raw materials and customers, so that no extra transport will occur. The development of European rural areas through bio-economy contributes extensively to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, Agenda 2030.”
The project showed that the development of biobased value chains has significant job creation potential, can safeguard current employment levels and can have substantial direct implications for workers when it comes to required skills and career paths. Trade unions should not only look at the development of the bioeconomy with great attention but should play a role in shaping that development. Trade unions should define a “bioeconomy they want”, and should actively contribute to the realisation of a model of bioeconomy which is consistent with their values and goals.
The outcomes of this project can be found here: https://www.effat.org/bioeconomy/