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Note: Also see the BioenergyWiki page Sustainability standards.
What is sustainability?
- Sustainability refers to the capability of complex systems to maintain themselves over time.
- When used in the context of human activity, sustainability usually has three aspects: social, economic and environmental.
- All three aspects must be met if something is to be considered truly sustainable.
- Anything which protects the environment by driving people into poverty, or something that supports the economy while undermining environmental services, will inevitably collapse, often with devastating consequences for people today and future generations.
- While nothing can be sustained forever, ecosystems, including those with humans, have maintained themselves for tens of thousands of years.
Sustainability and bioenergy
There are a variety of sustainability issues that concern the production and use of biofuels. Below is a list of some of these issues with links to related pages.
- Economic - Economics
- Environmental - Biodiversity, Environmental issues, Erosion, Forests, Invasive species, Land use, Life-cycle analysis, Prairie grasses, Soil, Water, Intensification of agriculture
- Social - Bioenergy in rural development, Food-versus-fuel debate, Indigenous peoples, Poverty issues
- Technological - Algae, Fuel traceability, Genetically Modified Organisms, Second-generation biofuels
To ensure that the use of biofuels is sustainable, a variety of sustainability standards are being developed by groups such as Better Sugarcane Initiative, Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels and Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. For a more extensive list see the Sustainability standards page.
Measuring and Monitoring
Note: Also see events listed on the BioenergyWiki page Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels.
- 16-19 January 2012, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates: World Future Energy Summit (Themes: biomass, greenhouse gas emissions, sustainability, rural development)
- 23-24 January 2012, Berlin, Germany: Fuels of the future (Themes: Europe, biofuels, bioethanol, biodiesel, certification, ILUC, standards, sustainability, biomethane, etc.)
- 5-8 February 2012, Orlando, Florida, USA: National Biodiesel Conference & Expo 2012 (Themes: biodiesel, feedstocks, sustainability, transportation)
- 12-17 March 2012, Marseille, France: 6th World Water Forum (Themes: biofuels, sustainability, technology, water)
- 13-15 March 2012, Rotterdam, The Netherlands: World Biofuels Markets (Themes: Africa, algae, aviation, biorefining, certification, iLUC, standards, sustainability, etc.)
- Sessions include: Sustainability & iLUC (13 March 2012)
- 26-29 March 2012, London, UK: Planet Under Pressure 2012. (Themes: agriculture, biofuels, greenhouse gas, sustainability, technology)
- 16-19 April 2012, Portland Oregon, USA: BioCycle West Coast Conference. (Themes: biomass, biogas, sustainability.)
- 24 April 2012, Washington, D.C., USA: Social Aspects of Bioenergy Sustainability Workshop. (Themes: biomass, Department of Energy, social issues, sustainability)
- 25-28 April 2012, Xi'an, China: BIT's 2nd Annual Congress of Bioenergy. (Themes: biofuels, feedstocks, biodiesel, energy, sustainability.)
- 3-5 June 2012, Washington, D.C., USA: 2012 Forest Products Society International Convention (Themes: forests, rural development, sustainability, wood)
- 20-22 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) (Earth Summit 2012/Rio+20) (Themes: green economy, international cooperation, sustainable development).
- 18-19 September 2012, Sao Paulo, Brazil: World Biofuels Markets Brazil (Themes: advanced biofuels, aviation, feedstocks, sustainability, technology).
- 2-5 October 2012, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA: Sun Grant Initiative National Conference on Science for Biomass Feedstock Production and Utilization (Themes: advanced biofuels, crops, feedstocks, sustainability, technology)
- 27-28 January 2011, London, United Kingdom: Biodiesel Industry Forum 2011: Meeting Sustainability Requirements - Overcoming the Challenges of the Renewable Energy Directive for the Biodiesel Industry. (Themes: biodiesel, biomass, camelina, certification, palm oil, feedstocks, jatropha, sustainability)
- 20-22 February 2011, Phoenix, Arizona, USA: National Ethanol Conference: Building Bridges to a More Sustainable Future. (Themes: biomass, cellulosic, ethanol, sustainability)
- 22-23 February 2011, Miami, Florida, USA: Renewable Energy Finance Forum- Latin America and the Caribbean. (Themes: climate, markets, policy, sustainability, Geographic focus: (Caribbean, Central America, Latin America))
- 22-24 March 2011, Rotterdam, The Netherlands: World Biofuels Markets 2011. (Themes: aviation, biofuels, certification, feedstocks, standards, sustainability, trade)
- 5 May 2011, Cologne, Germany: Pellets for Bioenergy – the market takes off. (Themes: biomass, pellets, sustainability)
- 12-13 May 2011, London, United Kingdom: Forestry, Biomass & Sustainability 2011 (Themes: biomass, climate change, forestry, sustainability)
- 16-17 May 2011, Madrid, Spain: 3rd Algae World Europe. (Themes: algae, aviation, ethanol, sustainability, technology)
- 16-22 May 2011, Berlin, Germany: Michelin Challenge Bibendum. (Themes: biofuels, fuel, sustainability, transportation)
- 25-26 May 2011, Edinburgh, UK: UK Biochar 2011. (Themes: biomass, life cycle analysis, markets, soil, sustainability, technology)
- 6-7 June 2011, São Paulo, Brazil: Ethanol Summit 2011. (Themes: cellulosic ethanol, food vs. fuel, land use changes, markets, sustainability)
- 15-16 June 2011, Rotterdam, The Netherlands: European Biodiesel 2011. (Themes: biodiesel, markets, sustainability)
- 19-21 June 2011, Nisyros Island, Greece: 2nd International Exergy, Life Cycle Assessment, and Sustainability Workshop & Symposium (ELCAS-2). (Themes: exergy, life cycle assessment, sustainability)
- 26-27 July 2011, Washington, D.C. area, USA: BIOMASS 2011: Replace the Whole Barrel, Supply the Whole Market -- The New Horizons of Bioenergy. Organized by the U.S. Department of Energy's Biomass Program (Themes: advanced biofuels, algae, aviation fuels, bio-based products, biofuels, markets, policies, sustainability, technologies)
- 5-9 September 2011, Jyvaskyla, Finland: International Nordic BioEnergy 2011. (Themes: biomass, cogeneration, sustainability, technology, wood)
- 22-23 September 2011, Brussels, Belgium: Biofuels Hall Of Fame 2011 - Innovation And Sustainability (Themes: finance, ILUC, markets, sustainability, technology)
- 27 September 2011, Sao Paulo, Brazil: Introduction to Sustainable Next-Generation Biofuels. (Themes: life-cycle analysis, next-generation biofuels, sustainability, transportation)
- 27-28 September 2011, Jakarta, Indonesia: International Conference on Oil Palm Biomass 2011. (Themes: biomass, biotechnology, markets, sustainability, technology)
- 27-29 September 2011, Lidköping, Sweden: International Bioenergy Days. (Themes: markets, sustainability, technology, transportation)
- 11-12 October 2011, San Francisco, California, USA: Biogas USA West Conference 2011 (Themes: biogas, Farm Bill, markets, methane, sustainability)
- 18-20 October 2011, Valladolid, Spain: Expobioenergía 2011 (Themes: biogas, CHP, forests, pellets, sustainability)
- 25 October 2011, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: From Crude Oil to Biofuels (Themes: ethanol, petroleum, sugar cane, sustainability)
- 14-16 November 2011, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso: 3rd International Conference Biofuels 2011 (Themes: Africa, agriculture, feedstocks, food insecurity, sustainability)
- 29-30 November 2011, Amman, Jordan: Arab Bioenergy (Themes: feedstocks, markets, sustainability, technologies, transportation)
- 1-2 December 2011, Berlin, Germany: International Algae Congress 2011. (Themes: algae, biomass, genetic engineering, markets, sustainability, technology)
- 7-8 December 2011, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Bioenergy International Asia Expo & Conference. (Themes: biodiesel, feedstock, markets, palm oil, sustainability)
- 24-26 February 2010, Delft, The Netherlands: European Convention of the Global Sustainable Bioenergy Project. Organized by the Global Sustainable Bioenergy Project. (Themes: bioenergy, sustainability)
- "This is the first of a series of 5 conventions aiming to provide guidance on the feasibility of sustainable bioenergy production on a large scale as well as implementation paths and policies that foster this outcome."
- 15-16 March 2010, Amsterdam, The Netherlands: BioPower Generation. Co-located with World Biofuels Markets event. (Themes: biomass, biopower, sustainability, technologies, wood-based biomass production)
- 15-17 March 2010, Amsterdam, The Netherlands: World Biofuels Markets. (Themes: aviation, biodiesel, ethanol, feedstocks, ILUC, next-generation feedstocks, standards, sustainability)
- Includes a "Sustainable Biofuels Awards" evening.
- 30-31 March 2010, Alexandria, Virginia (Washington, D.C. area), USA: Biomass 2010. Annual Department of Energy conference. (Themes: biomass, bioproducts, biorefineries, green economy, infrastructure, research, rural development, sustainability)
- 6-11 April 2010, Geneva, Switzerland: 30th Annual Meeting of the International Association for Impact Assessment. (Themes: agriculture, policy, standards, sustainability, transport)
- 21 April 2010, Wellington, New Zealand: EECA Biofuels and Electric Vehicles Conference 2010. (Themes: markets, sustainability)
- 27-28 April 2010, Manchester, New Hampshire: 2nd Annual Heating the Northeast with Renewable Biomass. (Themes: biomass, greenhouse gas emissions, biomass pellets, policies, rural economies, sustainability, technologies)
- 3-7 May 2010, Lyon, France: 18th European Biomass Conference and Exhibition. (Themes: biomass, policies, second generation biofuels, sustainability)
- 13-14 May 2010, London, UK: Forestry, Biomass and Sustainability. (Themes: biofuels, biomass, carbon offset, forestry, REDD, sustainability)
- 19-20 May 2010, Seville, Spain: World Biofuels 2010. (Themes: biodiesel, ethanol, ILUC, markets, policy, sustainability)
- 26-28 May 2010, Haifa, Israel: Globalization in the Amazon 2010 International Symposium. (Themes: Amazon, indigenous peoples, sustainability, water power, forest, biofuels, wood, biomass, alternative energy, policy)
- 30 May-3 June 2010, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Michelin Challenge Bibendum Rio 2010 - The "world’s premier event in support of sustainable road mobility where industry, policymakers, academia and the media can review the latest technologies, debate policies and share their visions." (Themes: automobiles, greenhouse gases, sustainability, transport)
- 1-3 June 2010, Helsinki, Finland: PulPaper2010 Conference - Implementing the New Rise. (Conference themes: bioenergy, forestry, sustainability, technology)
- 29 June-1 July 2010, Arlington, Virginia (Washington, D.C. area) USA: The Sixth National 25x'25 Summit. (Themes: 25 x 25 Alliance, agriculture, biomass, forestry, national security, policy, sustainability)
- 30 June-1 July 2010, Brussels, Belgium: 2010 AEBIOM European Biomass Conference and RENEXPO. (Themes: bioenergy, markets, policy, sustainability, energy crops, wood residues, MSW and more)
- 3-7 July 2010, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: 24th International Congress for Conservation Biology. Conference Theme: "Conservation for a Changing Planet". Organized by the Society for Conservation Biology (SCB). (Themes: conservation, environment, species, sustainable development)
- 16 August 2010, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil: From Crude Oil to Biofuels - Trends Impacting Global Fuels. (Themes: ethanol, jet fuel, markets, sustainability, transport)
- 15-16 September 2010, Paris, France: Sustainable feedstock supply for bioenergy and biofuels. Organized by the International Energy Agency. (Themes: biomass, land, sustainability, trade)
- 27-28 September 2010, Brussels, Belgium: The Future of Biodiesel in Europe. (Themes: Europe, feedstocks, RED, sustainability)
- 28-29 September 2010, Calgary, Alberta, Canada: Biofuels International Expo & Conference. (Themes: feedstocks, markets, second generation, sustainability)
- 25 October 2010, Nagoya, Japan: Engaging the CBD to build on existng biofuel sustainability initiatives. (Themes: biodiversity, biofuels, international cooperation, IUCN, Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels, sustainability)
- 27-29 October 2010, London, United Kingdom: EU Biomass Forum 2010. (Themes: biomass, Europe, sustainability)
- 8-11 November 2010, Jakarta, Indonesia: 8th Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil meeting. (Themes: palm oil, RSPO, sustainability)
- 8-9 December 2010, Washington, D.C., USA: ACORE Phase II of Renewable Energy in America National Policy Forum. (Themes: environment, policies, renewable energy, sustainability)
- 31 January-1 February 2009, San Francisco, California, USA: 6th Annual Sustainable Biodiesel Summit 2009. (Themes: biodiesel, sustainability)
- 23-24 February 2009, London, UK: Sustainable Bioenergy 2009 - New trends in biomass, biogas and biofuels. (Themes: European Union, sustainability, 2nd generation biofuels)
- 28-29 April 2009, Singapore: Bioenergy Forum 2009. (Themes: sustainability, policy, 2nd generation biofuels)
- 5 June 2009, Bonn, Germany: Agriculture, land and climate change: side-event at the UNFCCC meeting Participants include representatives from FAO and ICRAF. (Themes: Climate change, land use change, agriculture, Europe, sustainable).
- 28-30 September 2009, São Paolo, Brazil: Regional Workshop on Ways and Means to Promote the Sustainable Production and Use of Biofuels. Organized by the Convention on Biological Diversity. (Themes: biofuels, Latin America, sustainability)
- 20-22 October 2009, Lisbon, Portugal: Europabio's European Forum for Industrial Biotechnology 2009- (Themes: biofuels, biotechnologies, sustainability).
- Greenhouse Gas Accounting: Lifecycle Analysis of Biofuels and Land Use Change by John A. Miranowski for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD], 23 April 2012. "By definition, an LCA [lifecycle analysis] is a comprehensive accounting of all the energy inputs into the process and outputs out of the process, including GHG and other emissions. Ideally, sustainability should be incorporated into the system. Others have argued that increased GHG emissions in the biofuel system from global LUC [land use change] should be included in the LCA for biofuel as well."
- "The high level of uncertainty created by model incompatibility and by aggregate agricultural models not capable of capturing necessary refinements in LUC and agricultural management practices has led to two positions on including indirect LUC in LCA models. First, we know that indirect LUC and associated GHG emissions are not zero, so we are doing a disservice to society by not including them in LCA estimates, even though the “confidence interval” is extremely wide (Hertel et al., 2010). Second, we do not have the tools to obtain a reasonably accurate estimate of the GHG emission effects of indirect LUC, and we are doing a disservice by trying to measure the unmeasurable (Babcock, 2009b)."
- "Although there are a number of qualifiers, the same LCA model should be used to derive GHG
emission estimates when comparing different feedstocks or different fuels since cross-model comparisons simply highlight model differences (i.e., it is important to create a stable market environment when comparing fuels). Yet, in order to provide a complete understanding of the sensitivity of LCA results and policy impacts to model assumptions, it is important to consider alternative LCA models (and assumptions)." [
- FAO Releases Reports on Methodologies and Good Practices for Sustainable Bioenergy, 5 March 2012 by IISD Reporting Services: "The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has announced several new publications from its Bioenergy and Food Security Criteria and Indicators (BEFSCI) project on: methodologies, good practices, and policy measures for promoting sustainable bioenergy development."
- "The publications cover, inter alia: good environmental and socio-economic practices in bioenergy production; policy instruments to promote such good practices; a compilation of tools and methodologies, as well as a set of indicators, to assess the impacts of bioenergy development on food security at the national and project level; and case studies of opportunities and challenges for smallholders in bioenergy value chains and certification schemes in Peru, Mali and Thailand." 
- The Global Bioenergy Partnership Sustainability Indicators for Bioenergy, First edition by the Global Bioenergy Partnership, 2011. "This report presents 24 indicators of sustainability regarding the production and use of modern bioenergy, broadly defined. These indicators were developed to provide policy-makers and other stakeholders a set of analytical tools that can inform the development of national bioenergy policies and programs and monitor the impact of these policies and programs. The indicators were developed by the Partners and Observers of GBEP and provide a framework for assessing the relationship between production and use of modern bioenergy and sustainable development. The indicators were intentionally crafted to report on the environmental, social and economic aspects of sustainable development."
- Biocharred Pathways to Sustainability? Triple Wins, Livelihoods and the Politics of Technological Promise (PDF File) by Melissa Leach, James Fairhead, James Fraser and Eliza Lehner, 2010. "This paper tracks key narratives and positions in this emerging ‘politics of technological promise’ around biochar, and thus reflects on the prospects of biochar becoming part of pathways to sustainability that also meet the livelihood priorities of small farmers in rural African settings and beyond."
- “Sustainable” palm oil driving deforestation: Biofuel crops, indirect land use change and emissions (PDF) by Friends of the Earth Europe, August 2010. "This briefing looks at how demand for “sustainable” palm oil is contributing to ILUC. This is illustrated using the example of Malaysian palm oil company Sime Darby which is deforesting new land partially in order to meet increase in demand for certified palm oil for biofuel."
- Growing a Green Energy Future: A Primer and Vision for Sustainable Biomass Energy (PDF) by Loni Kemp and Julie M. Sibbing at the National Wildlife Federation, March 2010. This reports looks at policies for developing a sustainable biomass energy future and addresses some of the failures of first generation biofuels and the possibilities for success with second generation biofuels.
- Future Bioenergy and Sustainable Land Use (PDF) by the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU), 2009. "WBGU’s central message is that use should be made of the global sustainable potential of bioenergy, provided that risks to sustainability can be excluded. In particular, the use of bioenergy must not endanger food security or the goals of nature conservation and climate protection." A summary for policy-makers (PDF) is also available.
- Forest Footprint Disclosure "The Forest Footprint Disclosure Project (FFD Project) is a new UK government-supported initiative, created to help investors identify how an organisation’s activities and supply chains contribute to deforestation, and link this 'forest footprint' to their value."
|Sustainability standards | Sustainability initiatives (Better Sugarcane Initiative, Forest Stewardship Council, Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels, Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil)|
What is bioenergy? | Benefits/Risks | Who is doing what?