Future of Latin America and the Caribbean Goes through Consolidation of the Bioeconomy as a Developmental Vision

    This region is a huge producer of biomass, which opens the door to a great development of the bioeconomy, which improves the quality of life of the inhabitants of the rural areas

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    “I am convinced that the future of our region depends on the consolidation of the bioeconomy as a vision of development“, said Eduardo Trigo, a world leader in agricultural development issues and adviser to the Innovation and Bioeconomy program of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture. (IICA).Trigo gave one of the most anticipated presentations during the 27th Annual Conference of the International Consortium for Applied Bioeconomics Research (ICABR), which brought together the most important researchers and scientists in the world in this field in Buenos Aires, during 4 days of work and discussion.

    Facing the challenges due to climate change

    “We can define the bioeconomy as the use of biological resources for the production of goods and services throughout the economy. Without a doubt, it constitutes a tremendous development opportunity for Latin America and the Caribbean because this region is one of the most important, if not the most important, photosynthetic platform on the planet. By this I mean the possibility that we have of transforming solar energy into energy that can be used by man. Consequently, we are in a position to generate multiple options for the fossil economy. This positions us in the face of the challenges that lie ahead in the coming decades due to climate change and the need to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), from which we are still a long way off”.

    This was explained by Trigo in the auditorium of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MinCyT) of Argentina, the scene of this high-level scientific meeting, which was co-organized by the Argentine government, ICABR and IICA. During the last 6 years, the rural development organization of the continent has supported the countries in issues of awareness, capacity building, policy strengthening and business promotion of the bioeconomy in the agricultural value chains of the continent.

    This region is a huge producer of biomass, which opens the door to a great development of the bioeconomy that improves the quality of life of the inhabitants of the rural areas of the continent. In this sense, the prominent specialist considered that “biomass always has a territorial dimension. I always say that biomass travels badly, because it is uneconomical to transport it over long distances. This makes a very big difference with oil and has to do with the fact that the energy concentrations are very different. Thus, the biomass has to be processed and used locally, which means completely changing the territorial deployment model and opens up very important opportunities for the rural areas of our region”.

    Trigo has a PhD degree in Agricultural Economics from the American University of Wisconsin and has extensive experience as a consultant for national and international organizations on bioeconomy issues and in the area of science and technology applied to agricultural production. That is why he was one of the voices most listened to by more than 150 scientists from the Americas, Europe and Africa during the meeting in Buenos Aires. “That this conference is held in Latin America reflects the importance of the region in the global bioeconomy. We are facing a tremendous opportunity to interact with the most advanced countries and the most prestigious scientists. I am not mistaken if I say that this is the event of greatest global importance for the discussion about where the bioeconomy is going”, he explained.

    Sincethebeginning of time

    During his speech –entitled “Towards a research agenda for the construction of the bioeconomy as a vision for sustainable development”–, Trigo said that the bioeconomy, far from being a novelty, is practically as old as man himself. “Since the beginning of time, the bioeconomy has been with us. It does not matter how we define it. Also, it has been present in every society in its time, adjusted to the time. At all times, the knowledge was used to use the biological area. With agriculture, fermentation or biofuels we were doing bioeconomy without knowing it. Therefore, the bioeconomy is a very traditional thing, but it is also very modern”, he explained.

    The expert said, in this sense, that although the bioeconomy is always based on the use of natural resources for industrial activity, there are great differences in implementation between mature economies from a technological point of view and developing countries. In the case of the region, he considered that the focus should be placed on integrating small producers into the bioeconomy. “Latin America and the Caribbean –he affirmed– has 21 million productive units in agriculture and two thirds of them are family. It is too high a number for the bioeconomy to progress without a coherent proposal on how to integrate this sector. Our region includes 8 out of the 15 countries considered megabiodiverse in the world and no one disputes that diversity is a strategic resource. We have to advance in ways to take advantage of it”, he concluded.

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