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2021-07-27

Press Release: ICABR Closing Statement: Importance of the bioeconomy often under-estimated.

At the conclusion of the 25th International Consortium on Applied Bioeconomy Research Conference, the ICABR Board of Directors states the following:

At the 25th Congress of the International Consortium on Applied Bioeconomy Research (ICABR), in Ravello, Prof. Justus Wesseler of Wageningen University was elected as the new President. He succeeds Prof. Carl Pray of Rutgers University in the USA who led the consortium for more than a decade.

The 25th anniversary conference, was held in a “hybrid” format, featured more than 140 speakers and 200 participants, focusing on the contribution of the bioeconomy to sustainable development, especially in light of the UN Food System Summit in New York in September 2021.

Speakers at the conference included Ramanan Laxminarayan, Founder and Director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy; Joachim von Braun, Chair of the UN Food Systems Summit Group of Scientists; Chris Barrett,Professor of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University; and Caixia Gao, Principal Investigator of the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

At an international panel chaired by Hans Hogeveen, Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the UN Organizations for Food and Agriculture, international experts discussed the societal challenges facing the UN Food Systems Summit. The focus was on the consideration of the differences in the goals of interest groups, how these can be aligned and to what extent the UN Food System Summit can contribute.

Joachim von Braun highlighted the importance of food systems as part of the bioeconomy. Ramanan Laxminarayan pointed out the interconnectedness of the health system with the food system as part of the bioeconomy, emphasizing the importance of the One Health Approach.

Justus Wesseler states, ‘The contributions at the conference clearly show that the use of biomass must not be limited to the food and feed sector This demand, voiced by some, does not do justice to the bioeconomy idea. The economic and environmental linkages of biomass use are so significant that the effect of sustainable development would otherwise be jeopardized.’

The Board of ICABR records the following results of the meeting:

1. The bioeconomy is a major driver of research on sustainable development for topics ranging from world food supply to global health systems. The importance of the bioeconomy is in part significantly under-estimated.

2. We recognize that the topic of bioeconomy must go beyond the field of nutrition. The intersections of agriculture and food production are closely linked to health and societal development and are clearly in line with the Global Health idea.

3. Climate change is a central topic of bioeconomy research. In order to achieve the Paris climate target, innovation investments are required. There is a tremendous need for international coordination of bioeconomy regulatory activities to strengthen both incentives and inclusiveness of research and innovation.

4. Science needs to raise its voice more clearly to foster evidence-based debates. For 25 years, the ICABR has contributed to global policy debates by providing scientific evidence. One goal for the coming years is to strengthen the ICABR's communications.

5. The ICABR is committed to promoting younger scientists in the Global South. There are enormous opportunities for the bioeconomy to enable a sustainable world without hunger.

The ICABR is an organization of international scientists from more than 20 major national and international research institutions, with an interest in bioeconomy economic and policy research and analysis on the contribution of the bioeconomy to sustainable development.

The ICABR's goals are to: To promote and stimulate the quality and relevance of international bioeconomy research; to include the voices of stakeholders (scientists, policy makers, national and international organizations, non-governmental organizations, farmers, consumers) from all regions of the world; to foster research collaboration among its members; to foster collaboration among scientists with an interest in the bioeconomy in the public and private sectors within and across countries; and to communicate with and present research findings to the research community and policy makers to improve the scientific basis for bioeconomy policy.