Bioenergy for rural development: An engine of growth for a rural renaissance
Emigration, unemployment, lack of services: these are among the many challenges faced by European rural areas. In response, the September 2016 Cork 2.0 Declaration A Better Life in Rural Areas, highlighted the importance of rural development. In this context, biofuels have the potential to bring vital investment and growth to isolated regions, as has been the case in several US states which have enjoyed rising prosperity due to policies which support biorefinery operations for the ethanol and animal feed sectors.
Biorefineries are located in the heart of areas that produce the crops they require for operation. This brings about a virtuous circle of direct employment, even greater indirect employment plus secure long term demand for farm produce. These factors combine to create a firm foundation for the entire socio-economic system of the areas, closing rural-urban income gaps and evening out intra-European disparities.
To earmark the publication of a study by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences of the Pannonia Ethanol biorefinery commissioned in 2012 at Dunaföldvár in Hungary, EURACTIV organised this high-level forum to discuss the potential of biofuels and biorefineries for rural development and the way forward. Questions included:
- What is the potential for biofuels investment in Europe in the short to medium term, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe?
- How can EU rural development and regional development policies benefit from biofuels?
- Can the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) be better integrated?
- How to ensure biofuels bring no adverse side effects, ensuring continuous development and livestock production?
- What type of jobs and growth can be expected by the creation of biorefineries
Two articles reporting on the discussion were published on EURACTIV. You can find them here [/url]and [url=http://www.euractiv.com/section/biofuels/news/industry-and-farmers-see-biofuels-as-a-crucial-market-outside-cap/]here.
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Jyrki Katainen, Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, European Commission
Pekka Pesonen, Secretary General, COPA-COGECA
Eric Sievers, Director of Investments, Pannonia Ethanol
Eddie Punch, General Secretary, Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA)
Marc-Olivier Herman, EU Economic Justice Policy Lead, Oxfam
Prof. Dr. Wim Heijman, Professor of Regional Economics, Wageningen University
9:00 – 9:30 Registration and welcome coffee
9:30 – 9:45 Keynote speech
9:45 – 10:15 Panel discussion
10:15 – 11:00 Open debate and Q&A