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The bioeconomy: a catalyst for the sustainable development of agriculture and rural territories in LAC


What is the bioeconomy?

The bioeconomy is a new techno-economic paradigm of production and consumption. The distinctive element of the bioeconomy as a policy framework and a development approach is the fact that biological resources are its material and energy base.

Why should LAC focus on the bioeconomy?

The bioeconomy is both an opportunity and a need for LAC. It is an opportunity because the region possesses the two basic ingredients that undergird the bioeconomy:

  1. The broad availability of biological resources (biodiversity and genetic resources, diverse productive landscapes, the ability to produce biomass, the generation of biomass from unused waste); and,
  2. The scientific and technological capabilities necessary for the development of the bioeconomy, such as the agricultural and biological sciences.

The region also needs the bioeconomy, in view of:

  1. The challenge of finding new pathways for more sustainable and inclusive rural and agricultural development (it could help resolve problems of equity, distribution, poverty and territorial imbalance);
  2. The urgent need to find alternative forms of mitigation and adaptation for the agricultural sector in response to climate change that also guarantee the sector’s sustainability and competitiveness, as well as the inclusion of small farmers; and,
  3. The global objective of contributing to the decarbonization of fossil fuels.

The development of the bioeconomy is under way in the region. Legal, institutional and policy frameworks are already in place, and there are pioneering business initiatives on issues linked to bioenergy, biotechnology and sustainable biodiversity use. Pathways have also been identified for the development of the bioeconomy with a regional vision (Hodson 2015, Hodson de Jaramillo et al. 2019) and several countries are developing national and subnational strategies on the subject.

Document author: CEPAL, FAO, IICA
Institution: CEPAL-FAO-IICA
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