Understanding the biofuels policy-standards interface and its implications for biodiversity and food security

With biofuel mandates introduced by over 50 national governments around the world, there is increasing recognition that such mandates must be accompanied by biofuel policies designed to mitigate direct environmental and social impacts, as well as consider the risk of indirect impacts to food security and land use. There is also a need for biofuel policies to incentivise the development and use of the next generation of biofuels sourced from non-competing wastes and crop/forestry residues within ecological limits.

There are now lessons that can be learned from existing biofuel policies that have incorporated specific sustainability criteria, and from global bioenergy policy influencing fora such as the Global Bioenergy Partnership. There is also knowledge to be shared by voluntary biofuel sustainability standards that are now being used to demonstrate policy compliance, address policy gaps and/or proactively ensure the sustainability of biofuel supply chains on the ground.

Through this workshop, IUCN in collaboration with partners seeks to better understand the synergies between sound biofuels policy development and robust sustainability standards, and how they can mutually reinforce each other to ensure positive outcomes for biodiversity and food security.

As an example, while land use planning decisions are primarily in the domain of governments, current sustainability standards target only the producer. However, biofuel companies have lower risk exposure by operating in land that has been included in a robust land use planning exercise that is actively implemented and enforced. Initial results from some ecosystem-dependent sectors illustrate that synergies lie where certification schemes recognise certain exemptions for production in areas associated with robust land use planning and enforcement, and this can incentivise improved land use planning and enforcement by other governments seeking sustainable market access. Thus, a robust sustainability standard could potentially serve as an initiator of effective land use planning.

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