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A sustainable Bioeconomy for Europe: Strengthening the connection between economy, society and the environment

Opinion Number: CDR 6433/2018
Rapporteur: HORVÁTH Jácint
Commission: SEDEC
Status: Adopted
Date: 26/06/2019
Regional governments can have a facilitating role in bioeconomy by providing the means for industries, research institutions and enterprises to find each other and create necessary partnerships, networks and clusters needed for growing bioeconomy.
The bioeconomy has the potential to foster the repopulation of rural areas, as major providers of biomass. In cities, it has the potential to foster cleaner cities where the use of urban bio-waste can also have a positive economic role.
Local and regional authorities need to be active in linking their economic players to each other and to other European regions where they can achieve a symbiotic relationship, promoting innovative activities and new business models anchored in their local potential.
In order to create a sustainable and circular bioeconomy, activities have to be anchored firmly at regional and local level, within regions where people are familiar with available value chains. Regions are investing in basic services and facilities: therefore, a local and regional approach promises a firm connection to regional specifics and specialisations.
Realise the bioeconomy calls for regions and countries to move beyond silos and sector policies and towards holistic policies and incentives.
The Council conclusions of 29 November 2019 (14594/19 ) reflect the standpoints and requests of our opinion.
Throughout the whole document, the regional and local dimension is mentioned and referred to plenty of time, it is clearly stated that "urban areas can play a key role in implementing the bioeconomy", and it is also directly address at regions "encourages the EC, MS and the regions".
Our most recurrent request of synergies between different sources of financing is stated by the Council as well; e.g. "including the Structural Funds to further advance the deployment of regional and local bioeconomies rapidly across the whole Europe"; besides a systemic approach with EU programmes and policies.
The Council also highlights the importance of macro-regional and regional specificities and initiatives for the bioeconomy strategies.
"It stresses the need to plan bioeconomy initiatives keeping in mind the specificities of local context".
It also underlines, as we did, the importance of education and aware-raising to increase the acceptability of bio-based materials, products and services.

- considers that the development of the bioeconomy has great potential in terms of growth and jobs and points out that this development will only be possible if regional and local stakeholders cooperate closely and work towards the same goals. The Committee further stresses the importance of sustainable bioeconomy for the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals;

- encourages all European regions, being one of the most appropriate territorial levels for the implementation of bioeconomy strategies, to adopt bioeconomy action plans by late 2024 or to provide for a chapter dedicated to the bioeconomy in their global development strategy;

- considers that the development of the bioeconomy, particularly in less advanced regions, is connected to tangible projects, and that by delivering flagship innovations it will be possible to keep up the pace;

- considers that cities should become major circular bioeconomy hubs;

- proposes that rather than administrative boundaries, ecological boundaries and ecosystems should be used as a basis for assessing biomass production potential;

- proposes that a single system of indicators be developed, which is capable of providing information on activity in the regions by means of basic and specific indicators;

- would however point out that bioeconomy development requires a global approach, which also means that it will have to be financed by means of simultaneous and coordinated take-up of different resources. The Committee considers that the European Commission must enhance complementarities of a number of financial instruments and devise suitable tools for coordinating resources;

- considers that the labour force necessary for sustainable, bio-based value chains adapted to the ecosystem will be available in the long term if efforts are made to meet the specific labour needs of bioeconomy sectors by means of progressive and consistent education modules from primary education on, as well as training and lifelong learning modules, which are elaborated by Member States on the basis of the open method of coordination.
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