A decision support tool for sustainable bioenergy – An overview

Sep 2010

Whether or not bioenergy can deliver on the objectives without creating new and additional pressures depends largely on the existence of a robust and inclusive national planning process and project design and management.
Bioenergy has received a lot of attention over the past years, both from the side of governments looking for ways to mitigate climate change, ensure energy security, strengthen the agricultural sector and promote development, and investors seizing business opportunities that occurred largely due to government support in the form of targets and mandates. At the same time, a number of concerns have been voiced regarding potential impacts on food security and the environment related to the rapid expansion of bioenergy feedstock production, and in particular, competition between different land uses.
Decision makers in governments are faced with complex decisions on trade-offs between often conflicting goals. Decisions about bioenergy occur at two distinct levels: the national level in the definition of a bioenergy strategy, and the specific project or investment level in an approval or licensing process. Ideally, a government has a clear strategy in place before making decisions on major investments.
However, in practice, investment decisions may have to be made without the guidance of an established strategy, or while the strategy is being formulated. Therefore, the decision support tool (DST) proposes step-wise guidance for both the strategy and the investment decision-making processes.
The underlying concept of the DST is that identification and mitigation of risks and a longer-term perspective of sustainable use of resources are key to maximising the potential benefits from bioenergy.

By: UN-Energy (FAO, UNEP)

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