About the conference – University of Copenhagen

About the conference

Introduction

This conference will include both scientific presentations and a stakeholder dialogue that will explore and discover the benefits and challenges associated with governing the sustainability of bioenergy, biomaterial and bioproduct supply chains from forest and agricultural landscapes.

By bringing together researchers and stakeholders from the forest, agriculture, biogas and bioenergy sectors, the conference will create a forum to exchange views on what is needed, what is working well, and where the opportunities for improving the effectiveness and legitimacy of sustainability governance might be found. Regulation and governance of supply chains may lead to transformation and continuous improvements in sustainability of management practices. Examples of topical areas include revisions of the EU Renewable Energy Directive, with implications also for countries exporting to the EU; and efforts to implement the forest and biodiversity strategies in the EU and elsewhere, with pertinent and sometimes controversial questions to forest and nature protection or integration of conservation and management goals in forestry and agriculture.

The three-day event will combine a conference setting with a field trip to enable optimal exchange of views and in-depth discussion. Dialogue sessions are integrated with presentations, in order to create a unique opportunity for everyone to be involved, discuss and become informed on some of the key issues relevant to sustainability and governance of bioenergy and bioeconomy supply chains.

Abstracts should be submitted to Inge Stupak (ism@ign.ku.dk), and you may register for the conference at the conference website: here. The deadline for abstract submission is 15 October 2017, and the the registration closes 15 March 2018. When registering, we kindly ask you to fill in a questionnaire, which we will use to plan discussion sessions, in order to best target participant interests.

Background

Agriculture and forestry produce a large range of goods for the welfare of society. The main commercial products are food, fodder and timber, but the future importance of large scale production of biomass for bioenergy, biochemicals and biomaterials is increasingly recognized. Management activities associated with both traditional and newer bioproducts span over large portions of productive regions and are one of the largest human impacts on nature and the environment. As the global population and its wealth increases, the challenge to find an acceptable balance between economic activities and their impacts on climate, nature, environment and people also increases. Several of the ecosystem services potentially impacted by bioeconomic feedstock production systems do not have a market value and their protection and improvement will often depend on policies, regulation and governance.

In order to effectively achieve goals for ecosystem services, it is important that regulations are underpinned by scientific knowledge about the effects of management and mitigation measures. Collection of statistics, monitoring and modelling of sustainability indicators may also play important roles to ensure effective implementation and enforcement, as well as adaptation of the regulations to new conditions.

For the purpose of this conference, we define ‘ecosystem services’ as the economic, social and environmental benefits people obtain from ecosystems, while we use the term ‘sustainability governance’ to refer to a set of regulatory processes, mechanisms and organizations through which engaged actors influence environmental and social actions and outcomes. We find it useful to understand governance comprehensively as a range of mandatory or voluntary, public or private regulatory systems, with some examples being governmental regulations, international agreements and conventions, private certification systems, standardization, company policies, best management practices, and education programs.

Working with sustainability of bioenergy and the bioeconomy involves a high degree of complexity, as biomass is a dispersed resource across the landscape. Also, supply chains often involve a large number of actors and multiple sectors, such as forestry, agriculture, waste and biogas.

Aim

This conference aims at:

  • Identifying lessons learned on how data and scientific knowledge may inform development of well-functioning, credible and legitimate sustainability governance systems for bioenergy and the bioeconomy. This also includes their continuous improvement and adaptation to new conditions.
  • Exploring and comparing the variety of approaches to sustainability governance that are emerging or exist in different geographical regions, for different biomass-based supply chains, as a basis for building theory on how trust and legitimacy of sustainability governance systems is granted and achieved.
  • Providing a forum for information exchange between researchers and other stakeholders involved in developing sustainability regulations and standards, assuring that standards are being met, or implementing standards on-the-ground in the bioenergy and bioeconomy sectors, through which policy advice can be developed.

Themes

We invite presentations on research that examines, reviews, analyses or build hypotheses and theory that address the conference theme and sub-themes. If possible, presentations should include a statement on how the governance systems for bioenergy and the bio-economy may be improved, based on the presented research. The applied scale of the research can be local, national, regional, international or global.

The conference sub-themes are intended to encourage submissions with broad representation of the various regions in Europe, North America and internationally.

Conference sub-themes

1. Sustainability impacts of biomass production

Impacts of biomass production and recovery on economic, social and environmental ecosystem services at all scales, from stand or field level to whole landscapes, including field experiments and modelling.

2. Policies and governance systems to assure sustainability of bio-based supply chains

Policies of sustainability governance systems or complexes in specific settings, with regard to, for example, drivers of their emergence and development, roles of the actors involved, prescriptiveness of substantive or procedural system rules, and thresholds.

3. Data and methodologies to verify sustainable practices

The availability and reliability of research, data, maps, models, tools and methodologies, and how such knowledge and information may support development of credible sustainability governance systems, their implementation, showing compliance, examining effectiveness on-the-ground, and guidance on their improvement and adaptation to new conditions.

4. Stakeholder perceptions in relation to sustainability governance

Stakeholders and the public’s roles in the developing sustainability governance systems, their perceptions of sustainability of bioenergy and the bioeconomy, and communication and dialogues as a means to reach common understanding on such issues.

Approach

The conference will seek to achieve its aim through:

  • Scientific presentations: Presentations by key experts, researchers from IEA Bioenergy, the SNS-NJK and CAR-ES networks, and all other researchers working with these topics.
  • Stakeholder presentations: Presentations by key stakeholders on the current status and developments in governance of sustainability of bioenergy and the bioeconomy.
  • Discussion sessions: Focused discussions on how research may support policy makers, certification systems and others relevant actors in their efforts to improve governance systems that aim at ensuring sustainability of bioenergy and the bioeconomy.

Post conference dissemination will include a special issue in a scientific journal, policy advice notes and other products requested by participants. Presenters and other participants will be invited to contribute to these products.

We warmly welcome scientists, researchers, policy makers, actors from relevant economic sectors and industries, NGOs and other interested persons.