The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, today opened a major Stakeholder Conference on the Bioeconomy in Dublin Castle. The conference - “Bioeconomy in the EU: Achievements and Directions for the Future” was jointly organised by the EU Commission and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine on behalf of the Irish Presidency. Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn also addressed the delegates at the opening of the Conference.
The conference brings together all the major stakeholders in the Bioeconomy from Ireland, across Europe and beyond, including researchers, educationalists, policymakers, industry representatives, and civil society. The purpose of the Conference is to take stock of progress on implementing the EU Bioeconomy Strategy, which was launched 12 months ago by Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn, and to promote informed public debate on the future development of the bioeconomy.
Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn - "the bioeconomy's employment potential can certainly kick-start economies and reinvigorate communities in some of our most peripheral and deprived areas".
Setting the broad context, the Minister said the “grand societal challenges of the 21st century place enormous pressures on all of us to change the way we do things at a Member State, European, and indeed Global level. Our objective is clear ….. we need a more innovative and low emissions economy, reconciling demands for sustainable agriculture and fisheries, food security and the sustainable use of renewable resources for industrial processes, while protecting the environment”.
The Minister added that, in Ireland’s case, “the Government’s Policy Statement, “Delivering our Green Potential”, adopted last year, commits us to developing a Bioeconomy Strategy as part of a broader Strategy on the Green Economy. This work will be progressed over the coming months overseen by the Cabinet Committee on Climate Change and the Green Economy”.
Referring to the fact that the agri-food, forestry and marine sectors are the backbone of the Bioeconomy in Ireland, the Minister recalled the Think Green, Act Smart, Achieve Growth philosophy of Food Harvest 2020 and went on to say that “by applying these principles along the entire bioeconomy value chain we can exploit the full potential of our rich natural resources in a sustainable manner for our own economic advantage while also contributing to meeting the increasing global demand for food”.
The Minister pointed out that Ireland is making steady progress in implementing the various actions foreseen across the 3 pillars of the EU Bioeconomy Strategy. The Minister said “my colleagues in Government and I remain fully supportive of research and innovation and understand the crucial role it plays in underpinning growth in the Bioeconomy” adding that he was “delighted to report that several of the areas prioritised for future Exchequer funding under the National Research Prioritisation Exercise related to the Bioeconomy including “Sustainable Food Production & Processing” and “Manufacturing Competitiveness”.
On the question of sustainable production the Minister congratulated Bord Bia, Teagasc and others on developing the Origin Green brand image which “denotes compliance with a strict set of sustainability criteria related to the production of food” and went on to point out that “large sections of our milk and beef processing industries have already signed up to the scheme”.
Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn stressed that "the bioeconomy's employment potential can certainly kick-start economies and reinvigorate communities in some of our most peripheral and deprived areas". She added that "an economy based on biological resources is also the newest economy ….. it is a crucible of new technology and innovation, leading the way in the application of information technology, biotechnology and the life sciences while in many cases blending these with existing knowledge and expertise" and that “it is in the Member States and regions that the greatest work must be done.”
On February 13th 2012, the EU Commissioner for Research and Innovation, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, launched the “EU Bioeconomy Strategy – Innovating for Sustainable Growth”. The Strategy was co-signed by 5 EU Commissioners emphasising the importance of a cross sectoral approach to delivering on the Strategy. A Bio-economy Panel, Observatory and Skills Forum are foreseen at EU level to oversee the implementation of the Strategy. The Strategy also provides for regular stakeholder conferences.
The strategy defines the Bioeconomy as an economy which encompasses the sustainable production of renewable biological resources and their conversion into feed, food, biobased products such as bioplastics, biofuels and bioenergy. It includes agriculture, fisheries, forestry, food, pulp and paper and chemical, biotechnology (incl. pharmaceutical) and energy industries.
The Goal of the EU Strategy is to move to a more innovative and low emissions economy, reconciling demands for sustainable agriculture and fisheries, food security, and the sustainable use of renewable biological resources for industrial purposes, while ensuring biodiversity and environmental protection.
The EU Strategy includes 12 actions to be taken at EU, MS and regional level within 3 pillars.