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Bioeconomy: Activating an Ecosystem of Impact Entrepreneurship and Innovation

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The urgent demands of society and concern for the planet’s future have driven the market to search for more sustainable solutions, especially regarding production chains.

In this context, the bioeconomy is a fundamental element in the development of models more concerned with the environment, biodiversity, natural resources, and the communities that surround them.

This post examines what the bioeconomy is, its importance, Brazil’s potential and the role of entrepreneurship and innovation for its development.  

What is bioeconomics?

Bioeconomics is a field of study that proposes a new production model based on the offer of sustainable solutions with the objective of creating more harmonious relations between economic development and environmental preservation. 

To do so, it seeks to combine natural resources and biological systems with new technologies, enabling the creation of more sustainable solutions that generate positive impacts not just on nature, but also on the communities involved and society as a whole.

In this sense, it can originate a broad range of products and services, such as naturally-based pharmaceuticals, medications and cosmetics, new varieties of foods, bioplastics, biofuels, clean energy sources, and many other possibilities. 

The bioeconomy is directly related to the concept of a green economy.  According to the definition of the United Nations Environmental Program, the green economy results in “improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities”. 

Thus, this model seeks an alternative to the current production model, reducing inequalities, waste and scarcity of resources, as well as grave environmental consequences.

The standing forest and the bioeconomy

The bioeconomy offers great potential to generate value for the “standing forest”, through impact entrepreneurship at scale, with the development of solutions that generate direct value and contribute to forest conservation. 

The bioeconomy combines knowledge from different fields, to enable exploration of natural resources and simultaneously preserve the standing forest and promote the regeneration of affected areas.  The goal is to optimize production and production chains, enhancing the local quality of life and the conservation of biomes.

The importance of the bioeconomy for the world

The bioeconomy is one of the most important solutions for one of the most urgent problems and demands of our time: the preservation of natural resources and the regeneration of biomes.

The current economic development model is highly aggressive to the planet, since it is based upon the extraction of resources at an unsustainable rate, and because these resources are non-renewable (finite).  Water, air, soil, fauna, flora, and minerals are seen as mere instruments to generate profit and meet the needs of the population.

In this context, the bioeconomy presents itself as an evolution of the current development model, with renewable, clean, and sustainable solutions, capable of aggregating value to the products derived from it, while simultaneously reducing the harm that the current model causes the planet.

Among the benefits of the bioeconomy can be emphasized:

  • Fights Climate Change

By prioritizing clean energy sources, the bioeconomy is broadly based on more efficient production models in terms of one of the critical pillars of climate change: the emission of greenhouse gases.

  • Slows the loss of biodiversity 

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), if nothing is done, it is estimated that the planet will lose more than 10% of its biodiversity by 2050. The bioecomony, which generates value for the standing forest, gives potential to positive impacts of industry on flora e fauna, promoting sustainable development.

  • Improves the use of residues

In keeping with the concept of a circular economy, in the bioeconomy residues are viewed as elements to generate new raw materials or even energy.  Thus, the quantity of waste is reduced, and a rich source of raw materials is created. 

  • Reconciles progress and social development

One of the pillars of a bioeconomy is territoriality, creating value for the development of communities in regions where resources are explored, understanding that they are fundamental to environmental conservation.

Another very important factor that should be considered is the ability to attract new investments.  As mentioned, the bioeconomy serves the most urgent demands of the market and society, especially regarding forest conservation and the consolidation of a low-carbon economy.  

Thus, with greater technological advances and stimulus for innovation, this model has the potential to attract resources that enable job creation.

In fact, according to OECD data pertaining just to the European Union, the bioeconomy already moves two trillion euros and represents 9% of jobs within the EU. This is on a continent that does not have the proportions and biodiversity of Brazil.

Brazil’s potential for a bioeconomy

Brazil, with one of greatest biodiversity on the planet, broad availability of hydropower resources and high solar irradiation, has the potential to become one of the great leaders of the bioeconomy.  The Ministry of the Environment pointed out that 20% of all the species on the planet are in Brazil, many of them in the Amazon.

It is no wonder then that this forest has become the focus of national and international debates that emphasize the importance of its conservation.  In addition to the obvious harmful effects on nature and biodiversity, Brazil is losing many opportunities by not investing in the bioeconomy in the Amazon.

These are opportunities that would appear in the form of investments, innovation and job creation.

The forest has potential to generate enormous wealth in a variety of ways.  Supplies are extracted from the Amazon that are transformed into foods and beverages, cosmetics and drugs, wood, and cellulose, among many other products capable of promoting the sustainable development of the region and the entire country.

To develop bioeconomic projects there, however, investment and relevant political action are necessary, which propose alternatives that are not solely based on grain and livestock agribusiness. 

It is also necessary to create an environment that strengthens the low-carbon economy, in which the forest is not viewed as an obstacle, but as an attractive investment with all its unique opportunities worldwide. 

Fortunately, there are several initiatives that seek to boost the bioeconomy in Brazil, especially in the Amazon region.  The so-called “valleys” unite small networks that come together to attract attention of investors to strengthen their networks.  They are inducers of innovation who understand the reality of the region and act with a conciliatory and integrated vision.

Initiatives such as the Açaí Valley in Pará and the Tambaqui Valley in Rondônia seek to encourage entrepreneurship, technology and innovation with the goal of continuously developing the local community of startups, creating businesses and opportunities for everyone. 

The challenge is to strengthen these environments that foster innovation and entrepreneurship in an integrated manner, creating solutions that can revolutionize the Brazilian economy and the generation of value for the standing forest.

The Ecosystem of Impact Entrepreneurship and Innovation 

The Amazon Journey project stands out in this context of bioeconomics and initiatives focused on the sustainable development of territories.  This initiative seeks to broaden business opportunities based on the biodiversity of forests that remain standing, alive, rich and preserved.

From the promotion of impact entrepreneurship at scale in the region and by providing incentives to innovative proposals that generate economic and socio-environmental value, the Amazon Journey intends to create an integrated vision for the entire Amazon territory.

As mentioned, a few local ecosystems of impact entrepreneurship and innovation already exist.  What the initiative plans to do is integrate and strengthen these activities in a large Innovation Ecosystem hyper-connected throughout the Amazon region, to  create positive impacts for forest conservation.

To make this possible, the Amazon Journey seeks to awaken young talent to entrepreneurship, validating local opportunities and strengthening the connection between industry and sustainable and regenerative forest chains.

The entrepreneurial Journey is basically divided into three moments:

  • Activation: the Amazon Journey believes in the potential of new generations to develop the Amazon’s bioeconomy.  To do so, it intends to awaken the entrepreneurial spirit of young local talent so that ideas can take shape, whether as a future business or as changes to their own reality.
  • Origination: currently, the Journey will stimulate local entrepreneurs who have ideas that are already formed, or that need improvement, to convert them into new businesses that can create a positive impact on the forest and communities associated with the Amazon.
  • Evolution: this is when the Journey approaches someone who already has a business and wants to enhance its development.  Currently, partnerships, connection with markets and the development of new solutions and technologies are essential to increasing the chances for your business to succeed.

CERTI acts as the creator and coordinator of the Amazon Journey initiative, assuming the role of conciliator, integrator, and activator of this meta-ecosystem of innovation of sustainable production chains in the Amazon.

Beyond this forest, the CERTI Foundation promotes sustainability in several regions of Brazil.  One example is the Araucária+ Initiative, created in partnership with the Fundação Grupo Boticário de Proteção à Natureza [Boticário Group Foundation of Nature Protection], to promote the sustainable development of the Atlantic Forest, in southern Brazil.

To learn more about the project and how CERTI can help your company, please send an e-mail to comercial@certi.org.br

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