Global bioeconomy in the spotlight

The topical issues of climate change and the bioeconomy will come under the spotlight at the 4th International Bioeconomy Forum (IBF) Plenary Meeting, which the IBF and the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) will co-chair virtually on Monday, 29 November 2021.


The event, taking place under the theme "A decade of biomass for sustainable development", will be attended by prominent local and international researchers and policy makers, including African leaders in the bioeconomy, such as Dr Julius Ecuru of BioInnovate Africa.


The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, and Ms Mariya Gabriel, the EU Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, will deliver prerecorded messages at the event.


The IBF is a flexible multilateral platform that provides for global research and innovation aimed at accelerating the development of the bioeconomy.


The projected global population growth, from the current 7.3 billion to 8.5 billion by 2030, will be accompanied by increased demand for food, feed, energy, chemicals and materials. 


This envisaged growth calls for novel and improved production approaches that address the challenges of climate change, energy and food security in the context of limited water and arable land, and the need to reduce carbon emissions. The bioeconomy provides an opportunity to resolve some of these global challenges.


Biomass – the organic matter obtained from the by-products of agricultural and industrial processes – is regarded as a cornerstone of the bioeconomy and key in the transition to a low-carbon economy.


The total global supply of biomass from agriculture and forestry is estimated at about 11.9 billion tons of dry matter, with 61% and 39% produced from agriculture and forestry respectively. Currently, biomass accounts for approximately 10% of the global energy supply and 13% of energy consumption. Despite the uptake of other sources of renewable energy, bioenergy is projected to remain the main source of renewable energy in the long-run.


South Africa, like many other countries, has already invested heavily in renewables.  Recognising the need to transition from fossil-based to bio-based commodities, the country has responded by commissioning several evidence-based feasibility studies.


In addition, the Biorefinery Industry Development Facility (BIDF), established in 2018, is one of five facilities established in the past five years with the aim of enhancing industry competitiveness in South Africa.


The BIDF aims to reduce the barriers and risks for existing and new industry players in developing, testing and adapting biorefinery technologies to South African biomass sources, as well local socio-economic and environmental conditions.


As co-chair of the 4th IBF Plenary Meeting, South Africa was able to influence the IBF agenda by advocating for the inclusion of African member states as observers at the event.




DATE:       Monday, 29 November 2021

TIME:         11:00 – 13:30

VENUE:    To register for attendance, use the following link:


Issued by the Department of Science and Innovation


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