The future of bioenergy and rural development policies in Africa and Asia
Publication from Life
Amezaga J.M., Bird D.N., Hazelton J.A.
Biomass and Bioenergy 59, 137-141, 2013
This special issue has presented some of the specific findings of the RE-Impact Project which was commissioned and funded by the EuropeAid Cooperation Office from 2007 until its conclusion in 2010. The project aimed to provide impact assessment frameworks and influence relevant policies through direct involvement in bioenergy projects and policy analysis in South Africa, Uganda, India and China. The papers summarised here have covered issues related to Jatropha curcas and forest-based bioenergy in these countries. Taking an overall look at the project findings we can identify a number of general conclusions relevant for the future of bioenergy and rural development in Africa and Asia. First, only local and context-specific sustainability assessment can identify the risk and responsibilities of the different groups and the exact impact on the environment. Second, many initiatives both in biofuels and forest-based bioenergy are marred by a lack of understanding of the life-cycle financial analysis. Third, careful consideration of local physical and social conditions and the economics of the production chain can identify real opportunities for rural development using bioenergy. The current global impasse in bioenergy policies could actually be advantageous to the development of bioenergy in developing countries. Without the pressure from America and Europe to develop bioenergy systems for climate change mitigation, countries in Africa and Asia may have the breathing room to shape bioenergy systems for their own internal energy supply in an orderly fashion. However, in order to avoid environmental and social impacts it will be necessary to articulate together elements of a number of measures including market-based certification, national policy formulation, national legislation, impact assessments, sustainability planning, land use planning, research, monitoring and evaluation taking into account country and project specific sustainability criteria. Unfortunately, many of the countries in Africa and Asia where bioenergy can play an important role still lack institutional structures able to articulate this sustainable development.