GBEP news roundup: new partners and observers and progress on task forces

New GBEP partners and observers

GBEP is succeeding in attracting an ever greater number of countries and international organisations to become partners – with the total number now at 33. Another 28 take part as observers. This broad participation makes the GBEP’s work increasingly authoritative and relevant and means that bioenergy experts and decision-makers worldwide are contributing to its goals.

Argentina, Ghana and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) became partners by signing the GBEP Terms of Reference at the recent 9th Steering Committee meeting, held in Tunis on 7 May. Colombia has also signed up as a partner.

The same meeting also welcomed the African Development Bank (AfDB) as an observer. Anthony Nyong, head of the bank’s Gender, Climate Change and Sustainable Development Unit, addressed the meeting, highlighting the relevance for African countries of the work that GBEP is undertaking in the definition of sustainability criteria and indicators for bioenergy.

The European Commission, which is a GBEP observer and last month announced what sustainability standards must be met by voluntary biofuels certification systems in order to win EU recognition, is also due to become a partner. Its decision to become a partner was published in the Official Journal of the European Union in April.

For a map of GBEP partners and observers and a full list, see the GBEP website.

Agreement reached on many sustainability indicators

Work by the GBEP Task Force on Sustainability, which met for its 8th meeting on 5-6 May in Tunis, has led to agreement on numerous sustainability indicators for bioenergy, covering economic, energy security, social and environmental aspects. Further discussion is needed to reach consensus on a selection of specific areas. However, topics such as food security, government support for bioenergy, trade (including change in foreign exchange balance), land rights and national legal, policy and institutional frameworks have generated fundamental concerns for a small number of partners, leading to greater efforts being now made to find a common position for these areas.

The co-chairs of GBEP have committed to address these issues with the aim of presenting an initial report on sustainability criteria and indicators to the G20 Summit in South Korea in November.

Greenhouse gas methodologies

GBEP is to publish the results of testing by Partners of the methodological framework for reporting and comparing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from bioenergy. The GBEP task force behind this work has agreed to make available on its website all questionnaires compiled so far.

A clearing-house mechanism will also be established to allow users to compare across submissions, exchange documents and studies as well as to learn from other users’ experience. This should provide an easily accessible reference of examples for developing countries when designing life cycle analyses for bioenergy.

The Italian Institute of Agricultural Economics (INEA) kindly committed to develop the clearing-house, with the support of the GBEP Secretariat.

Feedback from the testing phase will be used to improve the methodological framework with the aim of publishing a “version one” in the first half of 2011.

Towards a new GBEP task force

Discussions about extending GBEP’s activities to cover technology development, deployment and cooperation for sustainable bioenergy have led to agreement about sharing information on two specific areas: capacity building activities on analytical tools for bioenergy and cooperation activities on bioenergy technologies.

The aim is to define the scope of a third GBEP task force (following those on sustainability and GHG methodologies). Work is starting on these two areas where consensus emerged while efforts continue to define a more robust programme of work.

In the meantime, two reports related to the initial work on technology for sustainable bioenergy have been published on the GBEP website:
- “Financing options for bioenergy projects and programmes” intended to facilitate
access to financing for sustainable bioenergy projects and programmes and
- “Analytical tools to assess and unlock sustainable bioenergy potential”, a resource for building country capacity to assess sustainable bioenergy potential and devising and implementing bioenergy strategies.

See the next item in this newsletter for more information about the two reports.

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