BiomassWeb and ESSZert Paper wins Elsevier Atlas Award

Outcome of cooperation of BiomassWeb with ESSZert on certification of bioenergy published in award-winning Elsevier article on “As Bioenergy Booms, Certification Schemes Must Consider Food Security”

n_img_1706Each month, Atlas’s advisory board selects a research article for the Atlas Award, based on suggestions from the publishers of Elsevier’s 1,800 journals. The awarded article is one of 12 articles selected out of 35,000.

Many countries are looking for ways to replace fossil fuels with more sustainable bioenergy. In Europe, gasoline is mixed with 10 percent biomass, i.e. rapeseed oil. With consequences for the food market: The growing demand of biomass resources used for electricity, heat, and fuel is threatening global food security.

“The problem of this growing demand for bioenergy is that this trend may have adverse impact on food security through direct competition between biomass and food production when it comes to available resources such as land and water,” said Anna Mohr, formerly of the University of Bonn in Germany and currently working at Puro Verde Paraíso Forestal SA, a company in Costa Rica dedicated to reforestation and agroforestry. “This might lead to lower food supplies and also to rising food prices at the local or international levels.”

Though standards have been developed to encourage the sustainable production of bioenergy, they didn’t include issues related to food security. To address this gap, the researchers of ZEF/BiomassWeb and Welthungerhilfe sought to develop criteria to incorporate the Human Right to adequate Food in existing voluntary biomass sustainability standards.

In their work, published in the journal Biomass and Bioenergy, Mohr and her colleagues used the 19 guidelines issued by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations to support the progressive realization  of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security. In the end, those guidelines were merged into 45 criteria, ensuring that food security isn’t adversely affected by certified biomass production.

Read more about the study and the atlas award here.

Read article (access free): Food security criteria for voluntary biomass sustainability standards and certifications
Anna Mohr, Tina Beuchelt, Rafaël Schneider, Detlef Virchow
Biomass and Bioenergy 89 (2016) 133-145.