Emerging technologies

Bio-based Economy


Bio-based Economy  - Towards Industrial Sustainability


The transformative ability of biotechnology applied to industrial process in delivering profitability and environmental gains hand-in-hand, and the influential report “The Application of Biotechnology to Industrial Sustainability” (OECD, 2001:, prepared by the OECD Task Force on Biotechnology for Sustainable Industrial Development, has prompted action in several countries towards delivering a more resilient, more sustainable and more biobased economy.


The focus at the OECD on industrial biotechnology is to identify the potential contribution of biotechnology to sustainable growth and development, and identify and appraise policy options for supply and demand side interventions that can drive efficient transition towards bio-based economy. 


Current focus is on supply-side limitations for industrial biotechnology – including on capital supply, human resources and globalisation of R&D.  A Workshop to validate the findings of this work is planned to coincide with the 2008 World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology.  The Task Force is also reviewing the utility of green and other sustainability indices for biobased products.


Industrial and Environmental Biotechnology


The key goal of the current work is to identify further means (e.g. international guidelines, policy recommendations) to implement the 2004 OECD Science and Technology Ministers mandate on “Biotechnology for Sustainable Growth and Development” which requested OECD to take steps to realise an eco-efficient bioeconomy. The transition towards a bioeconomy is perceived as one of the most powerful tools to mitigate global challenges including the economic crisis, climate change and sustainable development in the global economic context. The majority of the OECD area is committed to the delivery of the bioeconomy, thus the proposed scope of work is expected to have major mid- and long-term impact on the OECD economies and beyond.

Industrial and  are part of the core industrial sectors, which drives the transition of the main body of manufacturing sectors (e.g. IT, pharmaceutical, chemical, automotive, textile, food/feed, agriculture, etc.) towards more sustainable and greener economic and environmental models. The direct application of biotechnology to the environment (e.g. bioremediation, biosensors) is of high relevance for many OECD countries.  


Recent report: Towards the Development of OECD Best Practicesfor Assessing the Sustainability of Bio-based Products


OECD case study on “Metrics to Support Informed Decision-making for Consumers of Bio-based Products”


The Bioeconomy to 2030


The report on Bioeconomy 2030: Designing a Policy Agenda begins with an evidence-based technology approach, focusing on biotechnology applications in primary production, health, and industry. It describes the current status of biotechnologies and, using quantitative analyses of data on development pipelines and R&D expenditures from private and public databases, it estimates biotechnological developments to 2015.




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