Adopted unanimously by the CoR plenary, the own-initiative opinion on the 'Local and regional dimension of bioeconomy and the role of regions and cities', by Katrin Budde, Member of the Landtag of Saxony-Anhalt (PES/Germany), makes the case for the expansion of bioeconomy in both rural and urban areas, on the basis of policies designed to address geographical or other specificities.
"Boosting bioeconomy helps to secure and create jobs in new, sustainable markets – including in disadvantaged, de-industrialised or less-industrialised regions, as well as in rural, mountain and coastal areas", stressed the rapporteur in her introductory speech, highlighting the social dimension of bioeconomy, which can act as a catalyst and provide an opportunity for regional structural change. "This is why funding options for bioeconomy initiatives must help overcome geographical challenges linked to insularity or remoteness and need to be better integrated with national, regional and local funding programmes", she argued.
The CoR opinion reminds the potential of bioeconomy when it comes to promoting environmental sustainability by fostering independence from fossil fuels and to counteracting climate change by means of carbon neutrality. It argues that sustainably produced products and services making use of biological resources can reconcile the three aspects of sustainable development, that is, economic growth, social development and environmental protection. With this in mind, the CoR recommends drawing up proposals for the introduction – at least for a limited period of time - of relevant demand-oriented incentive systems for bio-based products in order to counterbalance the initial higher costs incurred during market roll-out. It also invites in this respect Member States and EU regions to favour bio-based materials in public procurement.
Pointing to the obstacles to bioeconomy expansion, Katrin Budde stressed the urgent need to improve coordination between the various policy-making levels, starting with bridging current divergences amongst EU Member States in the rules applying to the use of biomass. Last but not least, the rapporteur points out that expanding the bioeconomy requires that education becomes more interdisciplinary, and that curricula need to factor in more new training courses.