Mission Green Bulgaria: Experts' Recommendations for the Development of the Bioeconomy in Bulgaria

See the challenges and the ideas for sustainable development reforms, generated by the expert group "Mission Bioeconomy", part of the initiative "Mission Green Bulgaria".


От МOVE.BG, публикувана на 15 август 2022

MOVE.BG-initiated Green Restart Coalition has brought together over 50 of Bulgaria's leading experts in the fields of innovation economy, energy transition, bioeconomy and biomass, smart cities, nature-based solutions and sustainable finance. In June, motivated by the desire to turn Bulgaria into one of the green and innovative leaders in Europe, they took part in a special event for generating sustainable development ideas "Mission Green Bulgaria". 

During the event, over 150 challenges to Bulgaria's green transformation were outlined, as well as over 150 recommendations to overcome them. The Green Restart Coalition summarized the ideas in a special report containing six thematic chapters, based on the six groups into which the participants were divided:

  • Mission Green Innovation
  • Mission Energy Independence
  • Mission Bioeconomy
  • Mission Smart Cities
  • Mission Nature-based Solutions
  • Mission Sustainable Finance

Today, we present to you the challenges and recommendations, generated by the expert group Mission Bioeconomy. Among the participants in the panel are:

  • Apostol Dyankov, Climate and Energy Program Manager, WWF Bulgaria, panel moderator
  • Lora Stoeva, Forest Biomass Expert, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, panel rapporteur
  • Stanislav Yanev, Project Manager, Climate and Energy Practice, WWF Bulgaria
  • Teodora Peneva, Energy Poverty Expert, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
  • Kalina Koleva, Chief Expert, Energy Projects and International Cooperation Directorate, Ministry of Energy
  • Maria Minova, Chief Expert, Energy Strategies and Sustainable Energy Development Directorate, Ministry of Energy
  • Detelina Petrova, Chief Expert, Climate Change Policy Directorate, Ministry of the Environment and Water

Mission Bioeconomy

Did you know?

The bioeconomy is defined by the European Commission as those economic activities which use renewable biological resources (both terrestrial and aquatic) to produce food, materials, and energy. The circular and sustainable bioeconomy is the basis of the transformation of agriculture, land use and the agri-food sector, as underlined by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO). According to WWF Bulgaria, the bio-based economy has excellent potential for development but it should take place beyond the simplistic and harmful to nature and climate paradigm which gives priority to the burning of forest biomass for energy.

Today, the EU bioeconomy encompasses the bio-products sector, agriculture, forestry, fisheries, agri-food industries, and bioenergy. 

“We live in a world of limited resources. Global challenges like climate change, land and ecosystem degradation, coupled with a growing demand for food, feed and energy, force us to seek new ways of producing and consuming. A sustainable and circular bioeconomy contributes to addressing these challenges.”, as noted by the European Commission.

As pointed out in the analysis by the European Network for Rural Development, the development of the bioeconomy could contribute along several lines. The positive impacts of this type of economy include the creation and retention of local jobs, reduced greenhouse emissions and reduced dependence on fossil fuels, a renewed and strengthened EU industrial base and modernized primary production, as well as the restoration of ecosystems and enhanced biodiversity.

The bioeconomy could develop in both rural areas and urban environments. The powerful economic potential of the bioeconomy in rural areas results from several reasons, including the fact that biomass is processed most effectively at the source, and this reduces transportation costs and the related greenhouse gas emissions, as indicated by the European Network for Rural Development. The positive impacts are substantial in an urban environment, too. For example, the city of Amsterdam estimates that the recycling of organic residue streams could generate EUR 150 million in added value per year, create new 1 200 jobs and save 600 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

Where are we?

Today, the bioeconomy generates over EUR 2.3 trillion and provides jobs to almost 17.5 million people in the EU. Bulgaria has remarkable potential for development of a bio-based economy due to the enormous quantities of residual and unutilized materials in agriculture including the manufacture of foods, resources which are hardly used in Bulgaria, as pointed out in a report of WWF Bulgaria.

“At the same time there is even larger focus on the utilization of forest resources, while forests in Bulgaria are put under considerable pressure due to illegal logging and climate change. All this leads to serious environmental consequences, such as change of habitats, disruption of important bio-corridors, loss of species, soil erosion, etc.

Therefore, Bulgaria should try to minimize timber harvesting, utilize more efficiently the available resources and focus on bio-waste and waste from economic activity in forestry.”

In the Communication on the Fit for 55 legislative package, the European Commission recognizes the challenge relating to the control of the use of woody biomass. The EC outlines the EU target to ensure supply and demand for woody biomass remain within the limits of sustainability and are in line with our objectives of restoring biodiversity, improving the health of nature, and staying within planetary limits.

Challenges

Challenges to the successful implementation of Fit for 55 and RePowerEU

  • Lack of analysis on how to address the main risks under Fit for 55 and RePowerEU, two of the main EU reform packages
  • Risk 1 – natural ecosystems, biomass intensification
  • Risk 2 – failure to reach the targets for the production of energy from renewable sources
  • Risk 3 – failure to meet the sustainability criteria (especially for wood) which are to be specified
  • Risk 4 – unsustainable investment intentions
  • Risk 5 – deepening of the energy poverty, leading to stagnation, especially for households dependent on firewood

Legislative and administrative challenges

  • Delayed transposition of the EU Directive on renewable energy (REDII)
  • Lack of a plan to support the establishment of energy communities
  • Obsolete criteria for the use of biomass set out in the Renewable Energy Sources Act (RESA)
  • Lack of clear sustainability criteria in the Ordinance on the sustainability of biofuels and liquid fuels from biomass
  • Lack of a standardization system for sustainable forestry practices and technologies
  • Anticipated delays in the implementation of the future Social Climate Fund and the National Social Climate Plan
  • Administrative obstacles to the attainment of fast and effective energy independence of households and the establishment of energy communities
  • Unclear provisions on the quantities and role of forest biomass in the Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) and the long-term strategy for decarbonization of the Bulgarian economy;
  • Obsolete provisions of the Climate Change Mitigation Act (CCMA)
  • Need for a working Advisory Board on the EU Green Deal (ABEUGD) with a clear mandate for action
  • Underrepresentation of scientists in the updating and drafting of the primary and secondary legislation concerning the development of the bioeconomy and the use of biomass
  • Lack of analysis of the potential of renewable energy sources
  • Lack of an integrated approach to the assessment of the land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector
  • Lack of incentives to introduce innovation in the bioeconomy

Financial challenges

  • Lack of vision on investment in sustainable forestry practices and technologies
  • Problems with the co-financing of long-term measures for overcoming energy poverty: lack of national co-financing schemes
  • Lack of assessment of RES investment costs, which prevents the untapping of the country’s potential to develop the production of energy from renewable sources
  • Lack of analysis of investment costs in the national strategic documents
  • Delayed launch of the programme with financial instruments for support of households in overcoming energy poverty

Solutions

Measures for the successful implementation of Fit for 55 and RePowerEU

  • Targeted and proactive addressing of the risks identified
  • Participation of all stakeholders in these processes
  • Clear time frame for addressing the risks

Legislative and administrative solutions

  • Prioritization of the transposition of the EU Directive on renewable energy (REDII)
  • Development of a plan for the establishment of energy communities, focusing on the poorest
  • Updating of the criteria for the use of biomass set out in the Renewable Energy Sources Act (RESA)
  • Specification of the sustainability criteria in the Ordinance on the sustainability of biofuels and liquid fuels from biomass
  • Introduction of a standardization system for sustainable forestry practices and technologies
  • Acceleration of the implementation of the Social Climate Fund and elaboration of a National Social Climate Plan for Bulgaria
  • Introduction of fast and effective solutions for energy independence of communities and households
  • Updating of the Climate Change Mitigation Act (CCMA) with a view to inserting a decarbonization target and framework
  • Updating of in the Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) and the long-term strategy for decarbonization of the Bulgarian economy to insert decarbonization targets and sectoral decarbonization scenarios providing a framework for the bioeconomy
  • Specification of the provisions on the quantities and role of forest biomass in the Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) and the long-term strategy for decarbonization of the Bulgarian economy
  • Prioritization of the reform of the Advisory Board on the EU Green Deal (ABEUGD)
  • Involvement of scientists in the updating and drafting of primary and secondary legislation concerning the development of the bioeconomy and the use of biomass
  • Development of an assessment of the potential of renewable energy sources by sources so at to untap the potential
  • Introduction of an integrated approach to the assessment of the land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector
  • Information service provision to collect data for the national forestry stock-taking
  • Incentives for the introduction of innovation in the bioeconomy: the principle of the cascade of value-adding for biomass from forests and other sources

Financial solutions

  • Incentives for investment in sustainable forestry practices and technologies
  • Introduction of co-financing schemes for long-term measures to overcome the energy poverty problem
  • Assessment of the RES investment costs to tap the potential of renewable energy sources
  • Analysis of investment costs in the national strategic documents
  • Prioritization of the launch of the programme for support of households with financial instruments to address the energy poverty problem

The challenges outlined and the solutions generated are based on the shared ideas of the participants in the Mission Bioeconomy panel after the discussion of the WWF national report on the use of biomass in Bulgaria within the framework of the BioScreen project. The ideas are summarized and grouped together without any claims that they have been approved unanimously by all participating experts in the panel.

Read the full “Missin Green Bulgaria”Report here (in English).

Read more about the Green Restart Coalition here (in English).

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