Sustainability Implications of the EU’s Bioeconomy Transition along Global Supply Chains.

Többen, J., Stöver, B., Reuschel, S., Distelkamp, M. & Lutz, C. (2024): Sustainability Implications of the EU’s Bioeconomy Transition along Global Supply Chains. Journal of Cleaner Production 2024, 142565,


The EU has set ambiguous targets for the development of a bioeconomy (BE) that not only ensures sufficient production of high-quality foods but also contributes to decarbonization, green jobs and reducing import dependency through biofuels and bio-based chemical products. However, the various and complex interrelations between the BE, the natural environment as well as wider economy and society risk that the EU’s targets might indirectly compromise achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) globally. Here, we assess the impacts of the EU’s BE on the achievement of a broad range of SDG indicators using the hybrid econometric input-output model that covers 64 countries plus a region rest of world with 36 industries and 28 agricultural production sectors each. We compare the impacts of the EU’s BE across three different scenarios based on SSP2 combined with corresponding IEA and FAO scenarios describing different futures of population and GDP growth, climate policy and structural changes in the energy and agriculture sector. Our results show that, especially without further measures focusing on the circular use of biomass, the EU's BE is likely not contributing to a general improvement in SDG indicators. Instead, there are major trade-offs between various SDGs. Firstly, between the goals of climate change mitigation, on the one hand, and preservation of ecosystems through the protection of natural land, especially forests, and water bodies on the other. The second major trade-off is between the EU’s goals of fostering the economic competitiveness and lowering the import dependency of fossil energy and food security especially in low income countries outside Europe.