The bioeconomy is receiving a lot of attention in Europe. The EU’s bioeconomy strategy aims to encourage the sustainable use of biomass in order to boost economic growth and economic sustainability. The Dutch government shares this objective and would like to give a real impetus to the bioeconomy through effective policy. But what does ‘effective policy’ mean? In order to answer this question, we need to know how the bioeconomy fits together and be aware of its impact. This includes answering questions such as: which sectors of the economy play a role? And how do these sectors interact? Having an insight into the dynamics and impacts of the bioeconomy is essential if we are to determine which policy is effective.
Status of the Dutch bioeconomy
LEI Wageningen UR has developed an analysis framework in order to monitor the status of the Dutch bioeconomy. This framework is called the ‘Bioeconomy Barometer’ and uses the input-output table of the Dutch economy provided by Statistics Netherlands. We have fine-tuned this table to create one that distinguishes between 39 bio-based sectors. The table determines each sector’s turnover, added value and employment alongside their energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. The barometer is part of the ‘Macro-Economische Verkenning 2016’ (‘macro-economic survey 2016’), which LEI Wageningen UR carried out as commissioned by the Dutch government.
The Bioeconomy Barometer is based on data from 2013. The barometer demonstrates that the bioeconomy has a considerable impact on the Dutch economy as a whole. For example, with a turnover of 105 billion euros, the bioeconomy accounted for 9.5% of the total value of the Dutch economy. The added value amounted to 28 billion euros (4.9% of the total), while 347,000 employees were active in the bioeconomy (4.9% of the total).
Effects of the bioeconomy
Alongside these direct effects, an analysis was carried out on the indirect effects of the bioeconomy. This encompasses economic activities that are not directly part of the bioeconomy, such as services provided by banks and consultants, ICT and the transport of bio-based products to intermediaries and end users. These effects are also known as ‘spillover’ or ‘multiplier’ effects. The Bioeconomy Barometer shows the bioeconomy’s total turnover – both indirect and direct – to be 166 billion euros, 60% more than the direct contribution. The entire bioeconomy adds 55 billion euros of added value to the Dutch economy and provides 689,000 jobs. In light of this, there is a clear and considerable multiplier effect.
Bioeconomy Barometer first step
LEI Wageningen UR sees the Bioeconomy Barometer as a valuable first step towards a fully-fledged monitoring instrument. It is an instrument that provides policymakers with a basis for developing effective long-term strategies for the bioeconomy. It is important that the Bioeconomy Barometer be fine-tuned and developed with information on the socio-economic and environmental effects of the bioeconomy. There is a great deal happening at a European level, too. For instance, as part of the EU project ‘SAT-BBE’, LEI created a framework for the development of a successful long-term strategy. Monitoring the development and impact of the bioeconomy is a significant part of this.
As effective policy requires up-to-date information on the development and impacts of the bioeconomy, monitoring of the bioeconomy must form an integral part of government policy. LEI Wageningen UR is happy to share its expertise in this area.