"...income for farmers and rural populations can be increased and diversified which is totally aligned with the vision of thriving and resilient rural communities in Europe."
The inaugural Stakeholder Forum took place in Brussels on December 2017, dedicated to engaging directly in dialogue with Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU’s) projects and stakeholders. It brought together all of BBI JU ongoing projects who were given an opportunity to present the details of their project in a dedicated exhibition and in thematic workshops. More than 600 participants took part in the event and the day programme provided many opportunities for networking and exchange of thoughts and ideas writes Philippe Mengal, Executive Director of the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU).
Bringing together the right people at the right time was important, as we move with conviction towards the creation of a European bio-based economy. The event managed to do exactly what it promised: bring together all actors of the bio-based community! Participants represented a wide range of industries and sectors, SMEs, academic and research organisations, local and national government, EU Institutions, primary producers, political figures, projects and the bio-based industries community as a whole. The day was the true proof of the catalyst effect BBI JU ( @BBI2020 ) has in building the bio-based sector: connecting the links of the currently somehow fragmented the bio-based chain.
Throughout the day the high level speakers, from the Commissioner of Agriculture and Rural Development to project coordinators and from recognised entrepreneurs to academics all agreed upon the key importance of the development of a competitive and sustainable bio-based sector in Europe that will have in the heart of its operation the citizens of Europe, the environment.
A number of strategic messages were developed by the speakers, while the audience whose questions stimulated animated discussions and debates echoed the workshop’ conclusions some of which are described below. Innovative value chains within the bio-based sectors can provide new outlets for agricultural products and by-products. In this way, sources of income for farmers and rural populations can be increased and diversified which is totally aligned with the vision of thriving and resilient rural communities in Europe. At the same time, the development of a bio-based sector has the potential to create much-needed jobs in rural areas, and to contribute to more circular, climate-friendly and resource-efficient agriculture and forestry practices.
Improved policy coordination and standards at European level must prevail national regulations so that the challenge of creating a European sector will be tackled efficiently avoiding the creation of an uneven playing field. BBI JU is already dealing with the complexity of connecting until recently disconnected actors. Its centralised management of the program provides a "one stop shop" point for interested parties and facilities information flow.
Looking further to 2020, participants reflected and elaborated on the need for the continuation of the initiative, not only because the initial reasons of its creation, such as de-risking of investments, building critical mass etc. continue to remain valid, but also because its extension will solidify the momentum already established during the first years of its operation. BBI JU has and will continue to show an increased focus on structuring the sector and will further concentrate its efforts on actions that can make a difference and produce a clear impact.
For more information visit: www.bbi-europe.eu
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