The role of biomass in the Sustainable Development Goals: a reality check and governance implications

Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals entails an immense demand for natural resources. This could threaten global ecological development, a new study warns. In 2005, the world-wide biomass harvest amounted to an estimated 13 billion tons, 82 per cent of which was used for food and feed, 11 per cent for energy purposes and 7 per cent as biomaterial. National bioeconomy strategies are causing the demand for biomass for energy and industrial use to rise, and competition for resources and land to grow biomass is going to increase, also with a view to a growing world population. Even if conservative estimates are taken as a base, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) reckons with a demand for an additional area of at least 123 million hectares by 2050 in order to cover the growing demand. The key role of biomass also becomes apparent in several of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are to be adopted by the community of states in September 2015. The study “The role of biomass in the Sustainable Development Goals: A reality check and governance implications” looks at the demands and challenges arising from this.