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Policy

Sustainable AMBITION Considered central to consolidating economic growth, Spain’s bioeconomy can count on its strong agri-food and forestry sector that ensures vast resources in terms of essential raw materials for producing bioenergies and new biomaterials. Its highly-competitive biotech industry, involving both joint-ventures and SMEs, is a world leader. by Mario Bonaccorso

Mario Bonaccorso is a journalist and creator of the Bioeconomista blog. He works for Assobiotec, the Italian association for the development of biotechnologies.

The Spanish Bioeconomy – 2030 Horizon, tinyurl.com/hwq5ebe

A need and an opportunity – this is what the bioeconomy is for the government of Spain, that, in March 2016, was the first of the big Mediterranean countries to present its own national strategy (The Spanish Bioeconomy – 2030 Horizon). This was a necessary means for moving the country in the direction of becoming a society which is less dependent on non-renewable resources from fossil fuels “whose consumption is accelerating the climate change process which is putting the future of our planet at risk.” It is also an opportunity to stimulate “a process for consolidating economic growth,” where new technologies are considered competitiveness instruments for Spanish companies.

The role of the agri-food sector

the majority of the biotechnological innovation developed. Their importance in the Iberian country’s productive system is demonstrated through data supplied by the Ministry of Agriculture, which show that the agricultural sector represented 2.5% of GDP in 2013 and generated a gross value added of €21,707 billion, giving work to 740,000 people. The food industry represented 2.7% of the GDP and generated a value added of €28.448 billion, employing 480,000 workers in over 28,000 companies. In total, the agri-food sector made up 17% of national exports. Furthermore, forestry was worth €762 million, the fishing and aquafarming sector over a billion Euros, the paper industry €3.3 billion, the wood and cork industry around €1.9 billion. The Spanish strategy sets the challenge of maintaining primary production sustainability in economic, social and environmental terms. All this, Madrid believes, will be possible, improving productive efficiency and organisational and logistical processes, through technologies and innovation. Food discards produced by agriculture and the food industry must become raw materials for producing new biomaterials and bioenergies.

The main players in the Spanish bioeconomy strategy are the agricultural, food and forestry sectors, that are considered the prime beneficiaries of economic development based on the use of organic resources. On the one hand, there are the raw material suppliers that do not have to compete with the food industry. On the other, there are the recipients of

According to the Spanish Renewable Energy Association, in the 2007-2014 period, the average annual GDP generated by the bioenergies (including biomass for electricity generation) and biofuels for transport sector was 3.562 billion Euros. In the same period, an annual average of 47,880 direct and indirect jobs were created.

“The main objective – Isabel García Tejerina, Spanish Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Environment, wrote in the strategy introduction – is to construct a bioeconomy as an essential part of the country’s economic activities, with innovation that generates know-how. We need the public and private sector to collaborate closely and greater interaction between the Spanish and scientific and technological systems.”

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Renewable Matter #15  

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Renewable Matter is the International Magazine focused on the changing relationship between Economy, Society and the Environment. It focuses...