BIOECONOMY

G20 Bioeconomy Initiative’s second meeting focuses on dialogue between traditional knowledge and contemporary science

According to a recent international World Business Council for Sustainable Development report, bioeconomy based on ancestral knowledge offers the opportunity of raising trillions of dollars in revenue. The Initiative’s second meeting focused on an unprecedented discussion of the relevance of knowledge—ranging from oral traditions to the most recent advances in contemporary science—to bioeconomy.

05/10/2024 9:30 AM - Modified 14 days ago

7.7 trillion dollars. According to a recent World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) report, this is the business opportunity that circular bioeconomy may now represent. The topic was discussed in the context of the G20 Bioeconomy Initiative’s second meeting held from Tuesday (07) to Thursday (09).

The priority of the meeting was discussing the role of science, technology, research, innovation and traditional knowledge to bioeconomy, as part of a multidisciplinary discussion that is aligned with the holistic model already advanced by Brasil’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Marina Silva. This model involves seeking out and implementing solutions that were presented by Silva at the opening of the meeting on Tuesday, in Brasília. Another crucial topic was overcoming the false opposition that has been established between bioenergy, food and food security.

Other important topics were also highlighted: that the bioeconomy discussion  must be intrinsic to the general debate around economy—and that acknowledging the role of traditional populations and indigenous communities in dissolving the dichotomy between scientific knowledge and traditional knowledge are fundamental to advancing the topic.

Bioeconomy as market investment

The report “The circular bioeconomy: A business opportunity contributing to a sustainable world” produced by WBCSD addresses urgent environmental priorities, and highlights bioeconomy as the basis for a sustainable economy leading to other combined economic and social benefits. The research presents a potential USD 7.7 billion gain by 2030 for bio-based products that complement or even replace conventional ones—with an emphasis on energy, such as biodiesel, and on the use of biomaterials in pharmaceutical and textile products, in construction material and in packaging.

The definition of bioeconomy refers much more to its processes than its products, and it is during production that ancestral knowledge and technologies are used. Image: Tui Anandi/Instituto Socioambiental
The definition of bioeconomy refers much more to its processes than its products, and it is during production that ancestral knowledge and technologies are used. Image: Tui Anandi/Instituto Socioambiental

“Although our first reaction, when considering bioeconomy, is to think about biodiversity, this is actually much broader—and all the countries that were present acknowledged to what extent this opens doors. A surprising example was given by the United Arab Emirates regarding the export of biodiesel from waste,” said Initiative coordinator Ambassador André Corrêa do Lago regarding opportunities to operate bioeconomy also in countries that harbor less biodiversity.

From left to right, Leandro Pedron (director of Thematic Programs at MCTI), Ambassador André Corrêa do Lago (secretary of Climate, Environment and Energy at MRE), Carina Pimenta (national secretary of Bioeconomy at MMA) and Cristina Reis (undersecretary of MFaz Sustainable Development). Image: Audiovisual/G20
From left to right, Leandro Pedron (director of Thematic Programs at MCTI), Ambassador André Corrêa do Lago (secretary of Climate, Environment and Energy at MRE), Carina Pimenta (national secretary of Bioeconomy at MMA) and Cristina Reis (undersecretary of MFaz Sustainable Development). Image: Audiovisual/G20

Ancestral models at the center

This year, when Brasil presides over the G20—and as home to quilombola communities and over 260 indigenous peoples—, integration between classic science, technology, research and innovation with traditional knowledge was the topic of the meeting, and was assessed positively by participating countries.

In 2015, the Paris Agreement recognized indigenous peoples’ knowledge as science in what was to become an important milestone in legitimizing this wisdom. However, this knowledge has been replicated by global industry for centuries—in the development of drugs such as aspirin, which comes from willow bark, for example, and in morphine, from poppy seeds. These examples were presented by the National Secretary of Bioeconomy at Brasil’s Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MMA), Carina Pimenta.

"The relationship between biodiversity and economies exists regardless of whether a country is rich or not in biodiversity; whether it is close or far from ecosystem services, natural resources. The health industry, for example, is an agenda of interest to all countries, new drugs, new therapies, and most of them are the result of our knowledge of biodiversity”, said the secretary. “We want to bring our people and communities to the forefront of this agenda so that they may be an integral part of this bioeconomy journey,” she added.

Next meeting

The Initiative's next meeting will be held between June 17 and 19 in Manaus (state of Amazonas), opening the G20 meeting cycle in the Northern Region of Brasil, in the Amazon Rainforest biome. G20 Brasil is the first multilateral forum to debate bioeconomy, welcoming the different facets of the topic with broad views from participating countries. The Initiative is new to the Group.

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