As one of several alternatives to fossil fuels and nuclear power, bioenergy is expected to play an important role in efforts to achieve sustainable development. Ideally, it could contribute to climate mitigation and rural development. At the same time, bioenergy is currently the only energy source that easily complements fossil fuel use in the transport sector, and provides a stable baseload power. The 2030 Agenda reflects these expectations. It demands, for instance, a doubling of the share of renewables worldwide – of which biomass-based bioenergy will make up a significant part – as a step towards achieving the goal of providing more clean energy for all. However, a significant number of empirical case studies show that the production and consumption of bioenergy can create environmental and social harms. A substantial number of companies are also struggling with the economic viability of bioenergy projects. It appears that bioenergy production and consumption might face sustainability trade-offs with other SDGs (e.g., biodiversity, food security, rural development, water footprint).
The session elaborates the role of bioenergy in sustainable development. It aims to foster a discussion among participants about current expectations and actual trends in bioenergy production and consumption. The focus is on sustainability of scale, ecological and socio-economic effects, and governance options.