The Italian bioeconomy and the national strategy for its growth

d349d598-50a8-4427-808b-f75772587c07Bioeconomy refers to the various sectors of the primary production, such us agriculture, livestock, forests, fisheries and aquaculture, and industrial sectors transforming bio-resources derived from the above-cited sectors such as the food and feed industries, cellulose, paper and wood processing industries, bio-refineries, chemical and energy industries, and also the marine and maritime sectors. In Europe, bioeconomy has an annual turnover of around 2.2 trillion Euros and employs more than 18 million people. Italian bioeconomy is the third largest in Europe, behind Germany and France. The annual turnover equates to more than 250 billion Euros and almost 1.7 million jobs.

Furthermore, with its ability to produce better quality food and feed in larger quantities as well as biobased (and sometimes biocompatible) materials, chemicals and fuels from alternative raw materials, bioeconomy guarantees food safety and quality, it reduces environmental pollution and climate change and, consequently, represents the main solution to the growing demand for food resulting from the progressive growth in world population and the decrease in traditional and non-renewable raw materials. In addition, bioeconomy regenerates the environment, limits the loss of biodiversity and the rural and coastal areas abandonment. Indeed, it creates new economic and employment growth – starting from local traditions, particularly in rural, coastal and industrial areas also in line with the principles included in Junker’s Agenda for Jobs, Growth, Fairness and Democratic Change.

Finally, the efficient use of renewable organic resources together with increased sustainable primary production and efficient processing systems for the production of foods, fibres and other organic products combined with a decrease in use of input material, less waste and emissions of greenhouse gases (such as the exploitation of organic waste from agriculture, forests, cities and industry -primarily food), ensures that bioeconomy plays a key role in the circular economy package.

Why do we need a national strategy for bioeconomy?

The implementation of the afore mentioned actions requires direct research and innovation (R&I) and policy responses. These responses should be aimed at improving productivity, sustainability and quality of products of both the primary production sectors and of those related to the biomass transformation and at strengthening the interconnection of the above-mentioned sectors by creating new or longer, locally routed value chains. A closer cooperation between the institutions and the main public-private actors operating in the sector is also needed. Such needs and opportunities could only be addressed through a tailored national initiative, the “Italian Strategy for Bioeconomy” (BIT) launched by the Presidency of Council of Ministers of Italian Government and recently approved by 5 Ministries (the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies, the Ministry of Education, University and Research, the Ministry of Economic Development, the Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea Protection, and the Ministry of Territorial Cohesion and Southern Italy), by the Conference of the Regions and the Autonomous Provinces of Italy, the Agency for Territorial Cohesion and The National Technological Clusters of Green Chemistry (SPRING) and Agri-Food (CLAN).

Challenges and Action Plan for the Italian Strategy for Bioeconomy (BIT)

The strategy aims to achieve, by 2030, a 20% increase in economic activities and jobs that are currently attributable to the Italian bioeconomy. The actions planned aimed at achieving such a  result are:

  • Improving the sustainable production and the quality of the products in each sector (from primary production to processing), by taking advantage of the interconnections between the sectors in a more efficient way, with a tailored exploitation of both terrestrial and marine biodiversity, of ecosystem services and circularity, with the creation of new and longer value chains able to regenerate rural areas, marginal lands and abandoned industrial sites;
  • Creating more investments in R&I, in spin-offs/start-ups, in education, training and communication; improving the coordination between stakeholders and policies at regional, national and European levels; improving public involvement, and conducting targeted actions aimed at developing the market for bio-based products.

The Strategy also includes actions for the promotion of  bioeconomy in the Mediterranean Basin, mainly through an incisive participation in the BLUEMED and PRIMA initiatives, aimed at supporting the valorisation of natural resources, the environmental regeneration and the agro-food productivity of the area by guaranteeing this way a wider social cohesion and a greater political stability to the area. The actions for the Strategic Agenda for Bioeconomy and its priorities are accompanied by measures aimed at ensuring the framework conditions required for its effective implementation.

The above mentioned strategy is part of the implementation process of the National Smart Specialisation Platform (S3 national) for its themes “Health, Food and Quality of Life” and “Intelligent and Sustainable Industry, Energy and the Environment”, and it will be implemented in synergy with the “The Environmental Action Strategy for Sustainable Development” in Italy and its principles to ensure the reconciliation of economic growth with environmental sustainability.

An overview of the Italian Strategy for Bioeconomy (BIT) and of the major national and international actors involved along the bio-based value chain will be presented and discussed during the conference “The bioeconomy in Italy: the new strategy and cases of excellence” at ECOMONDO, on Tuesday 7 November at 14:30-17:30, organized by the Italian Ministry of Economic Development, CLUSTER SPRING, and Ecomondo Technical Scientific Committee.

Biobased Industry and Bioeconomy Hall at ECOMONDO   

One of the emerging industrial areas of Ecomondo is the Italian and European Bio-based industry i.e. multi-product biorefineries (which produce several chemical compounds and biogas) and non-food   biomass refineries, from wood cellulose and from organic waste, to be introduced in abandoned industrial areas. Reduction of food wastage, efficient energy use and transformation of the food industry including the integrated exploitation of its by-products and waste.

At Ecomondo you can find the industrial initiatives and major players in the Circular Economy biobased industry development sector, in line with the new directives of COP 21.  Companies that develop biopolymers, bioplastics, producers of organic waste derived material converters, industrial bodies engaged in producing renewable organic resources and converting them, through efficient industrial biotechnologies, organically based products and products from bioenergy, including food, feed, surfactants, etc. under the heading of “chemicals”. In short, all the small-large multi-product biorefineries.

In collaboration with Novamont, Ecomondo invites you to visit hall D3 in which, for the first time, there will be a pathway with examples of Italian excellence in the circular bioeconomy, to offer visitors a close look at what our country has already achieved and can achieve in this sector.

The pathway aims to go over the whole chain of the Italian circular bioeconomy, through the following stages: Agriculture, Infrastructure of the bioeconomy, Bioproducts, Bioplastic converters, Large-scale retail and big brands, End of life, Research & Development, Communication and popularisation.

Fabio FavaFabio Fava, Alma Mater Studiorum- University of Bologna, Italian Representative for Bioeconomy, H2020 SC2 committee,  Public Private Partnership “BioBasedIndustry”(PPP BBI JU) and BLUEMED Initiative. Scientific coordinator of the recently launched Italian Bioeconomy Strategy and of the International Exhibition on Green and Circular Economy ECOMONDO held yearly in Rimini (Italy).

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