Measuring, governing and gaining support for sustainable bioenergy supply chains

Several systems to define and monitor performance and progress towards sustainability of bioenergy have been developed for implementation at different scales, including operations, landscapes or jurisdictions. Some are formalised systems (e.g. GBEP 2011; RSB 2016; ISO 2015; ASTM 2016; SBP 2019) while others are inputs made through the scientific literature (McBride et al. 2012; Dale et al. 2015; Lattimore et al. 2009; Mead & Smith 2012). Even if much has been achieved, there are still challenges associated with understanding, defining, measuring, and governing and communicating sustainability of bioenergy (IEA Roadmap 2017). This has led to very different perceptions of sustainability of bioenergy in society, with a pronounced lack of trust in potential benefit within some groups (Mai-Moulin et al. 2019).

In light of these challenges, the IEA Bioenergy inter-Task project on “Measuring, governing and gaining support for sustainable bioenergy supply chains” was formed to synthesise works of a number of IEA Bioenergy Tasks, including Task 37, 38, 39, 40, 42 and 43. The project aimed at addressing the following questions:

  1. Objective 1: How to measure and quantify progress towards more sustainable practices?
  2. Objective 2: How to improve the input, output and throughput legitimacy of existing and proposed governance systems?
  3. Objective 3: How to engage more successfully with the broad range of stakeholders so that policies and sustainability governance are perceived as legitimate and helpful for build-up of social capital, trust, and support among all stakeholders?

The project was started in 2016 and completed by the end of 2018. A multitude of studies were initiated focusing largely on the agricultural and forestry sectors, and on biogas systems.

An overall summary of the project and the summaries of the work done under the three objectives have been published in June 2019.

  1. Overall project summary: Main findings and recommendations
  2. Summary of Objective 1: Methods and tools to assess the sustainability of biomass and bioenergy supply chains
  3. Summary of Objective 2:Approach to creating trust in sustainability of bioenergy through effective goverance
  4. Summary of Objective 3: Understanding positions and underlying motivations of stakeholder groups relative to their perceptions of bioenergy
IEA Energy Technology Network IEA Bioenergy, also known as the Technology Collaboration Programme (TCP) for a Programme of Research, Development and Demonstration on Bioenergy, functions within a Framework created by the International Energy Agency (IEA). Views, findings and publications of IEA Bioenergy do not necessarily represent the views or policies of the IEA Secretariat or of its individual Member countries.