New platform sheds light on the bioeconomy


How sustainable is the German bioeconomy? The new platform –– bundles knowledge in straightforward graphics and overview summaries to explore this question. An online database also provides the opportunity for data discovery.

Harnessing innovation to build a bio-based, climate-neutral and circular economy – that is the goal of Germany’s National Bioeconomy Strategy. But, is Germany is on track, and does development align with the overarching Sustainable Development Goals? The use of biomass can lead to trade-offs that are not always obvious, especially if problems are shifted abroad or over time. Monitoring is needed to uncover the links between consumption practices in Germany and impacts (environmental and social) across both the planet and time. "We show where and when the prefix 'bio' actually means progress," explains Prof. Dr. Stefan Bringezu, coordinator of the SYMOBIO 2.0 project, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

Origin, use and sustainability

Where does biomass come from, how much is used, and for what? What are the potentials, trends and drivers? What types of competition and conflict block progress – and how can they be avoided to make biomass use more sustainable? How big are the footprints of the German bioeconomy? These and other questions are considered in an understandable, scientifically-robust and balanced way at In addition, visitors to the website can set parameters and interact with the data themselves to explore trends.

Holistic overview

From case studies in remote sensing to footprint analysis, the SYMOBIO research team applies multiple methods ( to assess Germany's bioeconomy transition. The website is built on more than five years of research from within the SYMOBIO consortium, together with key results from current monitoring projects and pivotal studies from within Germany, the EU and at a global level. Combined, these sources depict the state-of-the-art of the research landscape and portray a holistic perspective. Both opportunities and risks are weighed in a balanced way.

Knowledge transfer for policy makers

The target audience is non-scientists. "The new website breaks down complex data into easily-understood graphics and key messages. In this way, it builds a bridge between science and all stakeholders," emphasises Dr. Meghan Beck-O'Brien, coordinator of the website content. The aim of the website is to support policy makers and other decision-makers with scientific expertise. The website provides key insights for the development of new strategies such as the National Biomass Strategy (NABIS), which is currently being developed by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK), the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) and the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV).

The website is currently available in English. A German version will be online by early summer.

SYMOBIO 2.0 – a collaboration of the following partners

Center for Environmental Systems Research (CESR)
Kassel Institute for Sustainability
Fachgebiet Grünlandwirtschaft und nachwachsende Rohstoffe (GNR)
Helmholtz Zentrum für Umweltforschung (UFZ)
Deutsches Biomasseforschungszentrum (DBFZ)
Gesellschaft für Wirtschaftliche Strukturforschung (GWS)
Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv)
GRAS Global Risk Assessment Services
ifeu – Institut für Energie- und Umweltforschung
Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

Contact at GWS

Christian Lutz
CEO – Lead Energy and Climate
Institute of Economiy Structures Research (GWS), Osnabrück

Contact at University of Kassel

Verena Pommerenke
Research Communication and Public Relations SYMOBIO 2.0
Center for Environmental Systems Research (CESR), University of Kassel

Meghan Beck-O'Brien
Coordinator of the website content SYMOBIO 2.0
Center for Environmental Systems Research (CESR), University of Kassel

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