Monitoring the sustainability effects of bioeconomy beyond black and white perspectives: The forest sector in Uruguay : [paper for] XV World Forestry Congress, Coex, Soul, Republic of Korea, 2-6 May 2022

Bioeconomy has gained attention in recent years as an alternative to achieve the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development, its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the Paris agreement. Although bioeconomy is often associated with a range of benefits it is not necessarily more sustainable and does not always create a win-win in all sustainability dimensions. Though trade-offs are inevitable they must be identified in order to be minimized or ideally avoided. However, most measures are restricted to economic sustainability while social and environmental impacts are addressed to a limited extent. In this study we present a holistic approach to monitor the sustainability of the bioeconomy in the forest sector at the value chain and national level. As proof of applicability, we use the example of Uruguay, a relatively small country in both surface (176,000 km2) and population (3.5 million), but with a strong connection to the global economy through forestry trade. The forest sector, particularly Eucalyptus cellulose, was the second most exported product in 2020 (around 14% of the total exports) and plays a vital role in the sustainable development of the country. But which sustainability effects are connected to the production of wood commodities in Uruguay and in which steps of the value chain there are opportunities to improve sustainability? In order to answer these questions, we used the most recent available forest statistics in a material flow and life cycle approach and assessed context-specific economic, environmental and social sustainability effects. The set of indicators is linked to SDGs in order to show the strong potential in coupling bioeconomy monitoring in terms of SDG reporting. Based on our results conclusions are drawn on how a systematic analysis of a sector can be conducted holistically going beyond economy and how to enhance statistics in order to make monitoring and evaluation of the bioeconomy a long-term strategy.



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