Responsible biofuels and beyond

25 June 2010 | Article

During the recent Convention on Biological Diversity meetings in Nairobi, IUCN and WWF convened an event on how to safeguard biodiversity in the face of rapidly expanding biofuel markets. 

 The recent fourteenth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) to the Convention on Biological Biodiversity (CBD) considered draft recommendations on how the production and use of biofuels could be harnessed to promote positive and minimize negative impacts on biodiversity. As a contribution to these deliberations IUCN and WWF convened a CBD side event on Responsible Biofuels and Beyond: critical issues for the CBD agriculture programme of work. The meeting provided an opportunity for Parties to the CBD to consider this issue with civil society and private sector stakeholders and to highlight a range of other critical issues.

Over the course of several presentations a number of key issues were highlighted, including:

  • the importance of multi-stakeholder involvement in policy framework development;
  • the importance of timely scientific evidence to inform policies and regulatory frameworks;
  • the difficulty of navigating the multiple-layered agendas associated with biofuels and the challenge this presents in advocating for sustainable approaches;
  • the need to address multiple sustainability aspects in biofuel projects, programmes and policies;

One of the conclusions drawn from the side event was that biofuels are another agricultural crop and as such should be included in the CBD Programme of Work on Agriculture. It was also considered important to draw on the lessons learned from the biofuels experience in moving towards more sustainable agricultural practices. The role of governments in providing strategic planning frameworks for biofuels – underpinned by participatory processes, good biodiversity data and environmental and social safeguards, was also highlighted. Finally, the Parties were urged to build on the vast body of work that is already underway (such as through the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels and Global Bioenergy Partnership processes) to promote and enable responsible biofuels rather than re-start developing a framework under the auspices of the CBD.

Link to the meeting page