BioEcoBCN Internship at EFIMED

Glen Wilson spent three months at EFIMED, Barcelona working on a background document for the Barcelona BioEconomy Forum. Glen, a Master’s student in Standardisation, Social Regulation and Sustainable Development at the University of Geneva in Switzerland, describes his time at EFIMED.

As a part of my Master’s studies I am required to undertake an internship in a subject area in which I will write my thesis. EFIMED kindly accepted my application and proposed that I work on a background document for the upcoming Barcelona BioEconomy Forum in November.

My joint tutors were Dr Liisa Tahvanainen (General Secretary of the Barcelona BioEconomy Forum) and Mr Inazio Martinez de Arano (EFIMED Head of Office), with Senior Researcher Nicolas Robert having a significant input.

The idea of the forum is to create ‘a policy-oriented but science-based decision-making platform’, which brings together important actors including scientists, policy-makers and top-level company leaders (Barcelona BioEco, 2014). The aim is to generate new and practical ideas for the optimal and sustainable use of our natural resources. Forests do not receive adequate attention as an important component within the future bioeconomy and it is therefore hoped that the organisation of this forum by EFIMED will ensure a certain level of attention is given to the potential contribution of forests, particularly in the Mediterranean.

Glen2.jpg : 68.828125KbThe background document took the form of an analysis of the bioeconomy strategies published by governments and institutions. The way in which forests were considered within each strategy was explored. I undertook an analysis of different forums that have taken place and found that discussions surrounding the bioeconomy were mostly focussed on industrial biotechnology and where forests were considered to be able to make a contribution, they were viewed mainly as sources of biomass. The scope of the contribution of forests is considered in a very narrow sense within most strategies and forums, being seen as a source of timber and fuel. A theoretical analysis was undertaken alongside an analysis of the positions of different NGOs.

It is clear that the bioeconomy strategies published, although a step in the right direction, generally do not take the full potential contributions of forests into consideration.

The report concludes with three recommendations for topics of discussion at the Barcelona BioEconomy Forum:

i) technical innovation can improve efficiency and productivity, increase profits and attract investment; 

ii) Communication of knowledge and best practices will speed up the transformation process and ensure the bioeconomy is successful; 

iii) the multi-functional use of forest landscapes will involve more stakeholders and therefore increases the chances of success of sustainable forest management for the good of all.

My experience with EFIMED has been academically stimulating and enriching. The team members have warmly welcomed me and been extremely supportive throughout my stay in Barcelona.

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