Biofuels pose several environmental and social risks. Therefore, to be truly a part of the green economy, biofuels need to comply with a set of safeguards along the entire production chain. Any bioenergy development strategy must
such safeguards at all levels, from policy to investments and the project itself. Achieving this will contribute to:
• sustainable management of natural resources, allowing for long-term use and resilience of the sector’s development;
• managing reputational risk which may severely impact the sector’s growth; and,
• avoidance of unintended consequences.
Such safeguards ultimately enhance the acceptability and competitiveness of the bioenergy sector.
Technically achievable potential must be matched with a comprehensive assessment of sustainable – socially and environmentally desirable – potential.
The good news is that integrated planning and management of key concerns can minimise risks
and create additional opportunities. Furthermore, it
should be possible to gradually bridge the
difference between the technical and the sustainable potential of biofuels by further implementing best agricultural practices and developing better technologies.
To date, safeguards have mainly concentrated on GHG balances of various feedstocks, conversion processes, and end-use chains (pathways). Biodiversity and water impacts, however, have received relatively little attention.
Figure 3.1 Abandoned land, Food insecurity index, Water scarcity 16