GBEP Working Group on Capacity Building for Sustainable Bioenergy: roundup of 2017 and new activities for 2018

The GBEP Working Group on Capacity Building for Sustainable Bioenergy (WGCB) held its 9th meeting on 30 November 2017 at FAO Headquarters in Rome, co-chaired by Mr. Miguel Almada from Argentina and Mr. Bah F. M. Saho from ECREEE/ECOWAS.

The meeting focused on discussions on Activity Groups (AG) 2, 3, 4 and 6, along with discussions of the new potential AG7 (Biogas) and AG8 (Advanced Biofuels).

The Activity Group 2 – “Raising awareness, and sharing of data and experience on the implementation of the GBEP indicators” presented the new measurement of the GBEP Sustainability Indicators (GSIs), implemented in Italy, Paraguay and Viet Nam.
Stefano Fabiani (CREA, Italy), gave an overview of the use of the GBEP indicators to assess the sustainability of the biogas value chain in Italy. The results of the implementation suggest that the Biogasdoneright™ system analysed has a good sustainability performance. These results, once scaled up to national level, will be a useful tool for the Italian Ministry of Agriculture and other responsible Ministries, to analyse the impacts of the biogas sector and the effectiveness of current policy, and to plan future policies. Justo Vargas (Paraguay) gave an overview of the FAO project “Building capacity to improve the sustainability of bioenergy through the use of GBEP Indicators” in Paraguay, funded by the International Climate Initiative (IKI). In the implementation of the indicators in Paraguay, they found that data was available but highly dispersed and difficult to access and so future reinforcement of information management is required in the country. In order to strengthen data availability, it is hoped that data related to the indicators of the sustainability of bioenergy can be included within the census matrix to be used in the next national agricultural census 2018/19. Pham Quang Ha (Viet Nam) gave an overview of implementation of the same FAO project in Viet Nam. He provided detailed results for the measurement of the indicators for the prioritized pathways in the country, namely: cassava-based ethanol; and biogas (mostly from pig manure, as well as cassava wastewater), at both household and industrial levels. The biogas pathway at household level is well established in Viet Nam, but the report highlighted the inefficient use of biogas and problems of water pollution as bottlenecks in biogas development. Currently, less than 1 percent of the cassava produced in the country is used for bioethanol, with the price of fossil fuel alternatives being a key driving factor. The significance of the policy role in sustainable bioenergy production across the entire value chain was highlighted.

The Activity Group 3 “Study Tour for capacity building and training”, presented the results of the 2017 Bioenergy held in Accra, Ghana. In this context a presentation on “Biogas value chains in Africa: SWOT analysis” was given by the Constance Miller on a study carried out by the GBEP Secretariat, which showed that biogas is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach and that feasibility studies are required to ensure sustainable feedstock availability, acceptance of the technology by local populations, positive environmental externalities, and viable economic returns.
The 2018 edition of the Bioenergy Week will be held in Argentina in mid June.

The meeting also saw an overview of 2017 work of the Activity Group 4 - “Towards sustainable modern wood energy development”. After having completed a literature compilation on industrial-scale wood energy, it was agreed to continue the work of the Activity Group and focus on the transition from traditional to modern uses of wood energy in emerging and developing countries, thus transcending small and large scale aspects of the sector.

While the meeting also saw the closure of the Activity Group 6 - “Bioenergy and Water”, in light of completion of its scope of work, it established a new activity: Activity Group 7 – “Biogas”, which will initially work on a stocktaking document to show the state-of-the-art of biogas and to guide the future activities of the Activity Group. The meeting session devoted to this topic also saw the presentation of a paper by CESC on “State of Biogas in the World: 2017” . The activity group will also organize E-learning, kindly hosted by Consorzio Italiano Biogas (CIB) and CIBiogas-ER (Brazil)

A new activity group (AG8) on “Advanced Biofuels” was also discussed and it was agreed to postpone its establishment to allow for more discussions.

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