Innovation for place-based transformations

Climate change, such as more intense and frequent wildfires, floods, and droughts underscores the urgency of addressing these challenges. In addition, biodiversity loss, deforestation, gender and income inequality are increasing the complex situation. These complex issues need to be addressed now. But how to address them?

The answer lies in adopting new tools, mindsets and approaches are required. This report focuses on different strategies and different organisations, sectors, and actors, transcending boundaries. 

The “Innovation for place-based transformations” publication contains three core sections: “Actionbook to build partnership for fair green and digital transitions”, “Collection of practices” and “Tools for action”.

Content: Innovation for place-based transformations

Author(s): Bianchi Guia; Matti Cristian; Pontikakis Dimitrios; Reimeris Ramojus; Haegeman Karel Herman; Miedzinski Michal; Sillero Illanes Carmen; Mifsud Solange; Sasso Simone; Bol Erica; Marques Santos Anabela; Andreoni Antonio; Janssen Matthijs; Saublens Christian; Stefanov Ruslan; Tolias Yannis

Publisher: Publications Office of the European Union

Year: 2024

International Symposium ‘Autochthonous hardwoods, the resilience of the forest sector?’

International Symposium ‘Autochthonous hardwoods, the resilience of the forest sector?’

From 28 February to 1 March 2024, in Lugo, Spain the International Symposium ‘Autochthonous hardwoods, the resilience of the forest sector?’ will take place.

The event aims to exchange knowledge about innovations in hardwoods across Europe and discuss decision support tools and resilience assessments for improving the resilience of the forest value chain in Galicia.

Visit the website to learn more and download the agenda in English here.

Photo by Jan Huber on Unsplash.

 

EU-FarmBook platform pre-launch online event

EU-FarmBook platform pre-launch online event

Join us for the pre-launch event of the EU-FarmBook platform on 8 February 2024, from 10:30 to 12:00 CET; the platform is focused on innovative agricultural and forestry-related topics. Discover the following key aspects during this online event:

  • Explore the platform: Learn about the platform’s capacities, benefits for contributors, and the overall vision.
  • Advantages for project coordinators: Gain insights into the platform’s advantages for project coordinators, with a focus on H2020 and Horizon Europe Project Coordinators.
  • Forthcoming features: Get a sneak peek into the upcoming enhancements designed to improve user experience and build upon existing features.

To learn more about the launch and register for the event, click here.

Photo from EU-FarmBook website

Exploring the latest innovations in forest carbon markets

Carbon markets play a crucial role in the complex network of climate solutions; they facilitate the exchange of carbon credit emissions permits and create incentives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These markets, whether regulated by governing bodies or projects aiming to reduce emissions, create dynamic environments where environmental responsibility and economic incentives intersect. 

Change through forest carbon markets 

Carbon farming – approach to sustainable land management – employs reforestation, afforestation, forest and peatland restoration, and agroforestry to capture carbon. This practice addresses climate change mitigation and generates carbon credits, known as carbon offsets

These credits represent the CO2 captured and stored in the forest, with the added benefit of being exchangeable within carbon markets. Institutions, organisations, and individuals can buy these credits to offset carbon emissions.  

The social benefit is that communities, farmers, and landowners become integral market players; they can earn income from sustainable land management practices that enhance carbon sequestration. This synergy between incentives and environmental stewardship encourages adopting sustainable practices.

Challenges and opportunities 

White drone flying near a forest
Drones, for example, can be used to collect data for forest monitoring and mapping tree inventory. Photo by Dmytro Titov – stock.adobe.com

As the market for carbon credits increases, some challenges need to be addressed. For example, avoid double counting emissions reductions and removals, and ensure that any reduction in emissions or increase in carbon sequestration occurs because of the sale of carbon credits.

These challenges require innovation and implementation of technologies to improve transparency and effectiveness across the value chain. Besides assisting in developing the carbon market, digital technologies also play a key role in inventory management, monitoring, reporting, and carbon monetisation.

Forestry Speed Dating 

unlocking forest carbon markets title

Bioregions’ Forestry Speed Dating (FSD) series, aiming to bring this relevant topic to the table, has the theme Unlocking forest carbon markets for its third series of the FSD – bringing innovators such as Skoog, Treemetrics, CarbonStack, CO2Offset, Ecobase, Arbonics, Kanop, Xilva, Föra, Zerti Carbon, CollectiveCrunch, Grupo Sylvestris, Land Life and other companies, start-ups and public initiatives to present their innovation and contribution to fight climate change. 

The series provides a platform for individuals and organisations to share knowledge, collaborate and foster sustainable growth in the forestry industry and the bioeconomy. 

Watch previous sessions, register for our fifth event on 1 February 2024, and stay tuned for new events to attend

References 

What are carbon markets and why are they important? 

International carbon market 

What You Should Know About Carbon Markets 

Carbon farming explained: the pros, the cons and the EU’s plans 

Carbon markets: the challenges and opportunities

Featured image by okawa – stock.adobe.com

24th Futures Conference: Futures of Natural Resources

What are Futures Conferences?

Each year the Finland Futures Research Centre (FFRC) and Finland Futures Academy (FFA) at the University of Turku organises its annual Futures Conference, an invaluable opportunity for meeting, exchanging and debating current topics related in futures studies and foresight. With approximately 200–350 individual participants attending from all over the world, international researchers, organisational delegates, business people and students convene to the FFRC annual conferences in the spirit of futures-oriented information, research, analysis and collaboration. Read more about the previous events.

Learn more

Featured image by LightoLife – stock.adobe.com

CO2 bioeconomy: creating value from carbon dioxide

Originally published on Open Access Government

Is the CO2 bioeconomy creating value from carbon dioxide? Dr Kang Lan Tee and Professor Tuck Seng Wong both explain

Our relationship with carbon dioxide

Carbon dioxide is frequently portrayed as the villain of climate change. A 50% carbon dioxide content increase in less than 200 years (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) is a stark reminder of its role in global warming.

Scientists have also linked the rise of carbon dioxide with the greenhouse effect in the past 66 million years (Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences). Beyond scientific reports, we have experienced the heat-dome scorching our summer and witnessed record temperatures in the UK, with the highest temperature recorded at 40.3°C on 19 July 2022. Is carbon dioxide to blame for climate change? Greenhouse gases trap

Earth’s radiant heat from the Sun in our atmosphere keeping it from escaping into space. Carbon dioxide is just one of the greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, N2O, and fluorinated gases) listed in the Kyoto Protocol. While it has less ‘warming potential’ than methane, for example, its longevity keeps it lingering in our atmosphere for up to 1,000 years, accounting for a third of the total warming of Earth.

Our dependence on fossil fuels is a significant cause of the current climate woes. Fossil fuels have supercharged the industrial revolution to drive society’s development. Coal, petroleum and natural gas remain primary resources in the global energy system today and significantly contribute to carbon dioxide emissions.

One argument is that emission is inextricably linked to economic growth. Historically, the richer developed countries emit more carbon dioxide. Countries have, however, started to decouple their economic growth from emissions. For instance, the UK’s GDP has increased in the last 30 years while its emissions have fallen (Our World in Data).

The bad press on carbon dioxide has eclipsed its integral role to life on the planet. By trapping heat from the sun, carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases keep Earth’s climate warm and habitable for humans and other lifeforms. Carbon is the backbone of life, comprising about 18% by the mass of our human body. It is transferred between different reservoirs by the carbon cycle.

For instance, plants produce food from carbon dioxide, which is then consumed by humans and other animals, transferring the carbon to us. Outside its role in Nature, carbon dioxide has numerous commercial applications. It is used to carbonate soft drinks, beer and wine, as an inert blanket to preserve food, and as a coolant for quick freezing.

It is also a raw material for methanol and urea production in the chemical industry. Pumped into oil wells, carbon dioxide can enhance oil production. Lesser-known applications include its use to de-caffeinate coffee and in surgical procedures like laparoscopy.

Innovations to combat climate change

Research and innovation are essential in our combat against climate change. Replacing fossil fuels with other energy sources is often the top change required to reduce emissions. Solar, nuclear, wind and biomass energy are primary alternatives.

These alternative energy sources are ‘cleaner’ as they have net-zero or very low emissions compared to fossil fuels. Solar, wind and biomass are also renewable, meaning we can have an ‘unlimited’ supply compared to the 57 years of oil reserve left (Our World in Data).

To limit global temperature rise below 1.5 °C, the UK aims to cut emissions to 78% below the 1990 level by 2035. Governments around the world outlined similar ambitions. It has become clear that this goal can only be achieved if we strengthen the ‘clean’ energy strategy with an ambitious plan to remove carbon dioxide from our atmosphere.

Carbon dioxide can be removed by plants through reforestation, sequestered in soil and ocean, directly captured from air and carbon mineralisation into solid carbonates. Most of these technologies are at the early stages of development or deployment. Cost remains a major barrier, drawing criticism to their economic sustainability.

Innovations that convert carbon dioxide into products are gaining the attention of governments and investors. These technologies create a CO2 economy that transforms carbon dioxide from a liability into an asset, a pathway for carbon dioxide removal to become economically viable. Key categories of products include fuels, chemicals and building materials.

Carbon dioxide asset

A key advantage of using CO2 as raw material for manufacturing is abundance. About 33 billion tonnes of anthropogenic CO2 (equivalent to 9 billion tonnes of carbon) is produced yearly compared to ~4.5 billion tonnes of combined crude oil and natural gas. Plants and algae are widely recognised agents that “consume” carbon dioxide. Less known are the bacteria that grow on carbon dioxide.

Also called autotrophic bacteria, these living organisms capture carbon dioxide and use it to grow and synthesise other complex organic products. Their ability to double in mass within a few hours makes them faster to cultivate than plants or algae.

At the University of Sheffield, we are harnessing the natural abilities of autotrophic bacteria and augmenting their performance using synthetic biology to enhance carbon dioxide utilisation and broaden their product range.

One such project researches the transformation of carbon dioxide in the air into sustainable, biodegradable polymers that can replace fossil-based plastics. This creates new sustainable opportunities on multiple fronts: the removal of carbon dioxide, a move away from using fossil fuel as raw material, and a biodegradable polymer product to tackle plastics pollution.

Our vision is to use autotrophic bacteria as mini cellular factories and carbon dioxide as raw material to manufacture commodity chemicals, biopolymers and single cell protein for animal feed.

The scale and urgency of our climate problem necessitate the tandem deployment of various technologies. It is thus critical to continue investment across a portfolio of carbon dioxide removal technologies. Research and development, financing, government and business commitment, and clear messaging to the public are essential for cultivating early opportunities into future solutions.

Grants

  1. EPSRC New Investigator Award (EP/X025853/1, to KLT).
  2. BBSRC-IAA and C1Net (to TSW & KLT).
  3. RAEng|The Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship (LTSRF1819\15\21, to TSW).
  4. National Research Council of Thailand (P2250317/3, to TSW).

Featured image: alpegor – stock.adobe

FIRE-RES Open Innovation Challenge Info Session

FIRE-RES Open Innovation Challenge

In recent years, Europe has experienced a significant increase in the frequency and intensity of wildfires. These extreme wildfires have resulted in devastating consequences, including the loss of life, destruction of natural habitats, damage to infrastructure, and the release of harmful emissions impacting air quality.

FIRE-RES has opened a new competition for innovators combating Extreme Wildfire Events in Europe. The FIRE-RES Open Innovation Challenge (OIC) is intended for experts, researchers, technologists, entrepreneurs, and innovators to contribute to tackling wildfires in Europe. Winners will receive funding to continue and scale up the work while connecting with the FIRE-RES Living Labs network.

The challenges

Theme 1 – Risk Communication and Awareness

Theme 2 – Community Engagement and Empowerment

Theme 3 – Stakeholder Training and Education

Theme 4 – Monitoring and Early Warning

Theme 5 – Forecasting and Decision Support

Theme 6 – Extreme Wildfire Events Response and Resources

Theme 7 – Policy and Governance Best Practices

WEBINAR

Join us at the FIRE-RES OIC Webinar on 14 September 2023 at 11:00 CEST. The webinar intends to engage with anyone interested in applying for the FIRE-RES OIC by providing valuable insights on how to apply, the documents needed, grants and benefits.

During the webinar, we will discuss how to apply for the competition and the benefits for the solution providers.

On 18 October 2023, a second webinar will take place to respond to all your questions and support you in the application process.

If you have any questions, please email oic@fire-res.eu.

Learn more about the challenge here.

Register here.

Boosting innovation in European bioeconomy

Originally published on Open access government

New projects to drive innovation within the European bioeconomy being funded by the CBE JU are outlined here

The Circular Bio-based Europe Joint Undertaking (CBE JU), a €2 billion public-private partnership advancing competitive circular bio-based industries in Europe, has signed its first 21 grant agreements this year.

Two hundred ninety-three beneficiaries from 27 countries will receive €116 million in funding to develop new bio-based products and materials, first-of-their-kind production facilities, and innovative processes.

The new projects will boost the competitiveness and increase the resilience of Europe’s bio-based economy by using often-underutilised resources to produce consumer products and industrial solutions to replace fossil-based ones. This will reduce the EU’s reliance on strategic imports and create new value chains, business opportunities, and green jobs, particularly in rural areas.

Two new biorefineries for high-value products

Two new flagship projects will set up innovative industrial biorefineries to support the development of the European bio-based economy, focusing on the food and feed sectors.

SUSTAINEXT

SUSTAINEXT(1) will turn an existing production plant into a circular biorefinery that will produce healthy plant- based extracts for food, food supplements, animal feed, fertiliser, cosmetics, and chemicals. The biorefinery will create new jobs in Extremadura, a rural region of Spain, and bring value to waste from food industries.

The proposed industrial model boasts the integration of twelve value chains that span from primary producers to end-users. “The model is easily replicable, adaptable to feedstocks of varying types and quality and able to run on renewable energy”, highlighted the Project Coordinator José María Pinilla.(1)

SYLPLANT

SYLPLANT(2) will build a plant near Lyon, France, producing 10,000 tonnes of protein-rich food and feed ingredients annually. The project will contribute to replacing animal proteins and other high-carbon-footprint plant-based protein sources, such as soy, with novel high-quality ingredients deriving from agricultural and forestry residues, leading to healthier and more sustainable diets for animals and humans.

The project will develop several innovative, nutritious, sustainable food products, pet food, and fish farming feed prototypes containing the ingredient. The CBE JU- funded SYLPLANT project “will draw up a roadmap to build even larger plants, making the vision of creating food from underused local resources a reality,” said the Project Coordinator Marc Chevrel.(2)

Advancing green solutions for many bioeconomy sectors

CBE JU funding will also make possible the development of products and applications for a range of other sectors, including transport, construction, packaging, and textiles. Among the resources that will be used are agricultural residues, paper production side-streams and municipal solid waste, terrestrial and aquatic plants, and wood residues.

Actions range from cultivating biomass on marginal land to produce bio-based fibres and soil revitalisation to capturing CO2 emissions from wastewater treatment plants and transforming them into high-performance plastics.

Some examples of the new projects include:

ROBOCOOP-EU and BRILIAN

ROBOCOOP-EU(3) and BRILIAN(4), with €4.7 million and €4.8 million in funding, respectively, will tap into agricultural waste streams to develop new cooperative regional business models. This will offer new commercial opportunities in rural areas, leading to job creation and a more diverse bio-based product portfolio.

A university and a research centre lead the projects, integrating primary producers and commercial companies, to diversify farmers’ sources of income and reduce economic risks.

SynoProtein

SynoProtein(5) has been granted €5 million to formulate a sustainable process that will convert residue from sawmills into single-cell proteins for fish feed and produce biochar for animal feed while capturing CO2.

Suppose this ground-breaking circular system developed by a Danish small business is proven effective. In that case, it has the potential to recover 160,000 tonnes of forestry residue and produce 120,000 tonnes of fish and animal feed annually. This could be valued at €175 million if implemented on a large scale.(5)

REDYSIGN

REDYSIGN(6) will use €4.4 million of CBE JU funding to create wood-based fresh meat packaging containing sensors to prevent premature food spoilage and an efficient recycling process. The project consortium has established collaborations between organisations from technological companies to supermarket chains to develop a viable, bio-based, circular substitute for fresh meat packaging.(6)

THERMOFIRE

THERMOFIRE(7) has been awarded approximately €4.5 million to produce bio-based, flame-retardant materials for the automotive, aerospace and textile sectors using feedstocks such as cellulose and flax. The materials will be lighter and less expensive than their fossil-based counterparts while maintaining the performance levels required in demanding conditions.

In economic terms, the CBE JU-funded THERMOFIRE project aims to lower the cost of flame-retardant materials by shortening production times and increasing the market share of bio-based composites.(7)

Take a look at all the new projects and discover how CBE JU funding is advancing a competitive European bioeconomy.

Ground-breaking production at various scales

The new CBE JU-funded projects are split into four actions, encompassing activities and tasks ranging from establishing ground-breaking production facilities to developing coordination and support systems.

  • Two Flagship Innovation Actions will receive €28 million to build first-of-their-kind industrial-scale facilities.
  • Eight Innovation Actions will obtain €41 million to establish demonstration-scale production systems and business models.
  • Ten Research and Innovation Actions will receive
    €44 million to develop new materials, products and ingredients from renewable and biological resources.
  • One Coordination and Support Action has been granted €2.9 million to develop digital monitoring tools to assess bio-based industrial systems’ environmental and social impact.

Innovation in European bioeconomy

CBE JU Acting Executive Director Nicoló Giacomuzzi-Moore said: “I am confident that these
new projects will make a vital contribution to advancing the bio-based sector in Europe and driving forward the transition to a sustainable, resource-efficient and circular bio-based economy.

I am also very pleased that, with these grant agreements, we can strengthen some European bioeconomy areas, such as producing bio-based alternative food and feed ingredients, flame-retardant materials, smart food packaging, and alternative bio-based platform chemicals.

Lastly, I would like to highlight the high SME participation in the CBE JU projects – around 40% of all participants – which confirms the important role of SMEs in driving innovation to the market in the bio-based sector.”

References

  1. https://www.cbe.europa.eu/projects/sustainext
  2. https://www.cbe.europa.eu/projects/sylplant
  3. https://www.cbe.europa.eu/projects/robocoop-eu
  4. https://www.cbe.europa.eu/projects/brilian
  5. https://www.cbe.europa.eu/projects/synoprotein
  6. https://www.cbe.europa.eu/projects/redysign
  7. https://www.cbe.europa.eu/projects/thermofire

Be a beta tester for the Bioeconomy Solutions Platform

What’s the Forest Bioeconomy in Action Platform?

The Bioregions Facility invites beta testers to explore the pilot version of the Forest Bioeconomy in Action Platform—a community to discover solutions, learn from knowledge, and keep track of news related to carbon farming.

Innovative solutions are crucial to the development of the bioeconomy, and the platform can contribute to it. Initially, the solutions are focused on carbon farming, but the goal is to expand it to various forest bioeconomy topics.

The Facility is working with Ubuntoo, an environmental solutions platform provider, to search for relevant solutions. The platform is powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and human curation, but users can also recommend solutions from other sources.

Solutions platform

The platform has about 100 solutions waiting to be explored, commented and shared. Users can filter the solutions based on “location,” “stage of development,” “seeking opportunity,” “solution theme,” and “organisation type.”

They can read an overview of the solution, check the organisation’s key contact, leave comments, and upvote or downvote the solution.

A special feature is creating a collection with chosen solutions, like a Spotify playlist but for project solutions. This collection has a unique link, and users can share the page with others.

Different knowledge products can be found in the “Learn” section, e.g., EFI publications, peer-review papers and other materials. The “News” and “Events” sections are useful for staying updated with the latest news and upcoming events.

Explore the solutions

Here’s a preview of two solutions:

Solution: SustainCERT

Overview: SustainCERT is a climate impact verifier that offers efficient and scalable certification through its technology-driven platform. A recognised authority for the Gold Standard for Global Goals, SustainCERT ensures that certified climate actions align with sustainable development goals.

SustainCERT overview on the solutions platform.

Solution: Zerticarbon app

Overview: Zerticarbon, a company that offers certified carbon sink solutions using blockchain technology, is dedicated to advancing climate-smart forestry solutions, connecting forest owners with companies interested in neutralising carbon emissions. The solution has recently won the Bioregions’ Open Innovation Challenge.

Zerticarbon app overview on the solutions platform.

Become a beta tester

Are you interested in becoming a beta tester? Fill out the request form now. Selected candidates will receive an email from the Bioregions Facility to register for the platform.

As a beta tester for the Forest Bioeconomy in Action Platform, you have direct access to the latest solutions applicable to the European market. Join the movement and help us make a difference in the bioeconomy.

Do you have any questions or suggestions? Email us at efibioregions@efi.int

Here’s what you can do on the solutions platform:

Create your account

Once you receive an email with a link to access the platform:

  • Click the “Click here to register to the platform” button in the registration email. This will take you to the page to create your login credentials.
  • Follow the instructions, fill in your email address and create your password.

Log in to the platform

Log into your account using the email address and password you used to create your account.

If you missed the initial invite or it has expired, simply visit Forest Bioeconomy in Action and click “forgot password” to create a new password and log in.

In your profile

On the platform, click the triple bar icon at the upper right corner of the menu:

  • Update your name or picture in “My Profile.”
  • Check other greenhouses and collections in “My Greenhouses.”
  • Click “Take the Tour” to learn more about the platform.
  • You can also “Change Password” or “Invite a Member.”

Discover solutions

In the navigation bar, click Discover:

  • Search solutions by clicking on the button “All Filters” or
  • Use the search bar using keywords, topics, or specific names.
  • Change the view to “Map” or “Grid.”

Inside a solution:

  • Read the overview and leave comments.
  • Upvote or downvote solutions.
  • Check key contacts and visit the original website.

Create a new collection:

  • Inside each solution, you can see the “+Collection” button at the bottom of the filter section.
  • Click “+Collection.”
  • Add selected solution to a collection, or
  • Create a new collection.

Learn

In the navigation bar, click Learn → Knowledge, Events, News to browse and search for other knowledge products, latest news and upcoming events.

Connect

In the navigation bar, click Connect → Members to see other members or (You can tag other members in the comment section when reading a solution.) → Forum to start a discussion with other members.

Recommend+

In the navigation bar, click Recommend+ to suggest a new solution. Our team will review the information provided and add it to the website if it fits our requirements.

Feedback

After using the platform, we will send a Feedback form requesting users to share their thoughts and help us improve the platform.

Questions

Do you have any questions or suggestions? Email us at bioregions@efi.int

See you on the platform!

Forest Innovation Summit 2023

This 2-day Forest Innovation Summit will connect Sweden, a global innovator in forestry and environmental stewardship, with California, home to the world’s most transformative technology ecosystem, to build knowledge, collaboration, and solutions.
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Register now