Bioeconomy is a conceptual and practical approach allowing to reconciliate economic activities with the principles of life, thus escaping from the shortcomings of the necessity of the growth of GDP, and of the social, ecological and financial debt.
Take for example the life cycle of a soda can. Its production demands significant resources of raw materials (aluminum, made from bauxite, water, sugar, flavors) and energy (to extract aluminum from bauxite, then manufacture the can, and finally transport the beverage of its production place to its retail, where it sometimes spends several days in a refrigerator, before being consumed in a few minutes, the can is then thrown with the “garbage”. In France, only 2 cans out of 3 are recycled.This may seem important, but this means that at least 1.5 billion cans per year are not recycled in this country, producing around 34,000 tons of non-recycled waste, for cans alone.
Yet the notion of waste is non-existent in living organisms. Everything that emerges from a natural loop of production-processing-consumption serves as a raw material for another organism (animal, plant or fungus), thus entering a new loop. Like ecosystems, bioeconomy consists in resynchronizing economic cycles (flows of matter, energy and value) to the cycles of life. It is an answer, simple in its general principle, difficult in its application, to the shortcomings of the linear economy, it opposes the financial logic, representations and operating modes deeply rooted in our societies. In our example, local production of beverage from local resources (fruit, water) coupled with reuse of (cans) would help eliminate waste and significantly reduce the energy expenditure associated with production and transportation of beverages.
Before being adopted by institutions such as the OECD, bioeconomy was defined precisely by the forerunners of ecological economics (Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen and René Passet) as a response to the challenge of reconciling economic activity with the principles of life, to live and work within the planetary boundaries. Some researchers (such as F. Capra or J. Banyuls, founder of biomimicry, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, founders of permaculture) have defined principles as regulatory ideas to move forward in this direction. Such an economy relies mainly on solidarity with living beings and between humans, framed in the long term. It implies giving value to what makes a full and healthy life (happiness, human relationship, with a minimal material basis for well-being) rather than to the accumulation of goods.
In their own way, social entrepreneurship, the social economy, ethical biotrade, and approaches such as circular economy or collaborative economy, try to meet these challenges. These responses are often partial (as in a form of highly capitalist collaborative economy), sometimes better integrated. The efforts to be made are not so much theoretical (as in the effort of compilation and vulgarization elaborated by I. Delannoy within the framework of a “symbiotic economy”) than practical. We need more action, experimentation, methods, facilitation than theory. Yet much remains to be done to introduce this approach in organizations and territories.
In 2020 and 2021, Pierre Johnson coordinated a study for the development of a “sustainable cocoa and chocolate originating from French Guyana”, at the request of a corporate sponsor and the Chamber of Agriculture of French Guyana. With Cesar Paz, creator of the Norandino cooperative in Peru, we met in early 2020 all the producers and actors likely to support this development. Gathered early November in a workshop for two days, current and prospective producers and their possible support shared their experiences and together built a vision for the future of a cocoa and chocolate of excellence, made in French Guyana and therefore in France. This article is a first assessment.
Human health and ecosystems: a relationship of interdependency The current pandemic reminds us that human and ecosystems healths are closely linked. For decades, scientists, especially in the medical field, thought that it would one day be possible to control all...
Le label Bio Français Équitable contribuera-t-il à faire avancer le bio français vers plus d’équité ?
La Fédération Nationale de l’Agriculture Biologique (FNAB) vient de lancer le label Bio Français Équitable. Cette initiative contribuera-t-elle à faire avancer le bio français vers plus d’équité ? Cet article analyse le contexte d’émergence de ce label, notamment les défis de l’agriculture biologique et du commerce équitable.
Against the coronavirus, can African countries promote a herbal medecine derived from traditional medicine?
Much hope has been placed on the plant of the species Artemisia annua. Is its use by African countries medicinal or political, or both?
The program on “management of natural resources based on indigenous peoples’ local knowledge” in West Kalimantan had multiple facets: reclaiming customary rights on land and forest, conducting activities of adaptation to and mitigation of climate change, economic empowerment through the establishment of local credit union service points, and support to food security and income generating activities. It was globally successful, but new challenges appear for the communities involved.
In June 2019, the French Development Agency entrusted us through Tero an assignment, for the Union of the Comoros: a feasibility study of a 4 year project for the development of cash (ylang ylang essential oil, vanilla and clove, mainly) and vegetable value chains on...