Working towards a refinement of the GBEP Sustainability Indicators for Bioenergy: the 15th meeting of the GBEP Task Force on Sustainability

The GBEP Task Force on Sustainability (TFS) held its 15th meeting on 29 November 2017 at FAO Headquarters in Rome, and welcomed the three new Co-Chairs: Mr. Takashi Hayashi (Japan), Ms. Annalisa Zezza (Italy) and Mr. Ahmed Abdelati Ahmed (Egypt); supporting the Co-Chair Mr. Kwabena Ampadu Otu-Danquah (Ghana).

This meeting was preceded by a “Workshop on the Implementation Guide for the GBEP Sustainability Indicators for Bioenergy”, which saw a number of presentations on: country experiences in GBEP Indicators’ implementation,  the IEA Technology Roadmap released in November 2017, the Technical Paper on the “Linkages between the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the GBEP Sustainability Indicators for Bioenergy (GSIs)” developed by Germany,  the Technical Report on the “Attribution of impacts to bioenergy production and use for the implementation of the GBEP GSIs”, and two tools for the development of the Implementation Guide. The first was given by Jeff Arnold (ARS, USDA) on the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT), which can be used to model watersheds for numerous applications. Mr. Arnold gave an overview of the model and the scales at which it can be used, which ranges from small, local scale up to a global model, and how it can be used to determine national food supplies, water use/efficiency and soil erosion. He also provided information on publications and support related to the model, and expressed the availability for group training, if desired. Mr Fehrenbach from Germany presented the methodology and tool for GBEP indicators 1 and 4 developed by IFEU, and its application in Viet Nam and Paraguay. The tool uses a LCA approach to determine greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and non-GHG air pollutants from bioenergy production and use. He detailed the principles of the tool and how allocation is dealt with within the LCA. So far, the tool has been used in the implementation of the GSIs in Viet Nam and Paraguay, and will soon be applied in Ethiopia and Kenya; there is also the possibility to derive a generic tool, although tailoring would always have to occur on the ground to fit with country context.

The Task Force on Sustainability focused on two main issues: enhancing the practicality of the GSIs and discussing the cross-cutting issues for the implementation of the GSIs. Constance Miller presented the GBEP Secretariat work on the ‘Stepwise Approach’ to enhance the practicality of the indicators, to be included in the Implementation Guide.
Further to the stepwise approach, the meeting agreed that the Implementation Guide would benefit from a flowchart representing the indicators and their links to required data. Germany kindly proposed to develop a draft of this flowchart by the end of March 2018.
As another way to enhance the practicality of the indicators, the option to utilise the GBEP website as a data repository for international databases was discussed. The AFREC Bioenergy Database, as presented by Atef Marzouk (AFREC) during the meeting, could represent a potentially relevant regional database to be included. Partners and Observers are requested to provide links to relevant international databases to begin compiling this repository by March 2018.
Continuing the discussion on data availability and practicality of the indicators, the idea of developing an excel-based tool or tools to aid the implementation of the indicators, and to make regular monitoring more feasible, was considered. This was based on the presentation by Marco Colangeli (FAO) of a Horizon 2020 project (FORBIO) where FAO has developed an automated tool for measuring the indicators in this specific context. It was agreed that this could be useful to develop but a decision was not taken in this regard.

As part of the discussion, the remaining cross-cutting issues that had not yet been fully addressed were discussed. Proxies and best practices were deliberated on and it was agreed that it would be useful to provide guidance on the use of best practices and the various approaches that can be taken. It was decided that the GBEP Secretariat will work together with the kind support of IRENA to prepare an information document that could eventually be integrated into the Implementation Guide.

Finally, the work conducted under the three (Environmental, Social and Economic) sub-groups of the TFS during 2017 was presented and remaining guidance to be provided was discussed with a view to finalize the related work by 2018.

All outcomes of the meeting are available on the GBEP website


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