IEA Bioenergy - Biomass Supply and the Sustainable Development Goals (2021)

With demand for sustainable biomass expected to increase, an initiative was launched under IEA Bioenergy involving multiple tasks to identify and document best practice case studies from around the world to better understand how biomass supply chains could be implemented to support bioenergy production while simultaneously contributing to the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

The United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by all UN Member States in 2015 to achieve the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The SDGs serve as a comprehensive framework to guide national and international development, enshrining the importance of developing holistic policies that address environmental, social and economic priorities. Such an approach is particularly important for the sustainable production of biomass for bioenergy, or any other bio-based product for that matter, as its growth, harvest, collection, storage, transport, processing and use can have significant environmental, socio-economic, and health impacts for people and their communities.

In the report, they focus on four supply chains, which are forest biomass, agricultural residues, energy crops and waste biomass. Each of these supply chains contribute to different SDGs. Below, a few examples are given for each supply chain:

  • Forest biomass: Biomass sourced from forests that are sustainability managed can ensure the protection of ecosystem services (e.g. water purification, soil stabilisation, biodiversity conservation). Next to this, the use of biomass for bioenergy can improve energy security and resiliency, while also improving the share of renewable low-carbon energy
  • Agricultural residues: Use of residues can improve resource-use efficiency, especially if sourced from waste and by-product streams of primary production while ensuring enough residues are left to maintain soil health and productivity. Moreover, redirecting residues to bioenergy from disposal piles and open-air burning can improve local air and water quality.
  • Energy crops: Energy crops can help to reclaim degraded land by restoring land and soil by adding nutrients and carbon to soils. Moreover, the use of energy crops can improve energy security and resiliency, while also improving the share of renewable low-carbon energy
  • Waste biomass: Waste biomass used for bioenergy can improve both resource use efficiency and waste management, while providing value-added services and products such as bioenergy generation. Lastly, waste biomass used for bioenergy also creates co-products, such as fertilizer that can be used for agricultural purposes to reduce the use of synthetic fertilizer, improving the overall circularity of supply chains.

Most supply chain build on SDG7, which ensures access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all, and SDG8, which promotes sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

The full list can be found in the document.