Minister of State in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), Martin Heydon T.D., along with Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan TD, today provided the opening addresses to the 1st meeting of the National Bioeconomy Forum.
Speaking today, Minister Heydon said:
‘Producing sustainable and renewable biological resources from our farms, forests and seas, and focusing on the prioritised use of this biomass through biorefining to create innovative, high value biobased products including food, feed, alternative biobased chemicals and materials is a key business opportunity I want to see developed to the benefit of the agri-food sector. These products will replace and reduce our dependence on fossil based resources and most importantly generate sustainable new economic opportunities for farmers, foresters and fishers, as well as for young and skilled rural entrepreneurs and the agri-food sector in rural, regional and coastal areas’.
The bioeconomy seeks to consider the various sectors of agriculture, fisheries, aquaculture, forestry, food & feed in an inclusive manner. This coordinated approach seeks to: develop carbon and nature sinks, avoid harmful pressure on ecosystems and the environment and to use biological resources with sustainability, circularity, knowledge and innovation prioritised. In this inclusive approach the bioeconomy includes and interlinks: land and marine ecosystems and the services they provide; all primary production sectors that use and produce biological resources (agriculture, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture); and all economic and industrial sectors that use biological resources and processes to produce food, feed, bio-based products, energy and services.
‘I am delighted that the highly regarded John Malone has accepted the invitation to expertly chair this forum which meets for the first time today and brings together a wide range of stakeholders with the aim of developing the bioeconomy in Ireland’.
Also speaking also today, Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan TD said:
The Bioeconomy offers a significant opportunity to use our natural resources in a renewable and sustainable way in the long term interest of both people and planet. By learning from nature and moving away from the” take ,make and dispose” model towards a circular economy, we can both create sustainable employment, protect our environment and meet our climate goals. Ireland has real potential in this area, and the establishment of the National Bioeconomy Forum is a significant step toward realising this ambitious goal. I look forward to the recommendations that come from this process.
The National Bioeconomy Forum aims to promote, support and advocate for the sustainable development of the bioeconomy in Ireland in line with the progression of a circular economy, climate action and a climate-neutral, sustainable and innovative agri-food sector. The Forum will provide a voice for a broad range of stakeholders, including primary producers, industry, community groups, NGOs, innovation clusters and relevant semi-state bodies.
The bioeconomy is seeking to create new, sustainable and innovative opportunities for farmers and high-quality, green jobs in rural, regional, urban and coastal areas. The Government has recognised the important role that Ireland’s bioeconomy can play in meeting our climate change targets and helping the agri-food sector achieve decarbonisation and climate neutrality and has previously outlined a range of commitments in the Programme for Government to develop a sustainable and circular bioeconomy.
Notes to the Editor:
Irish Bioeconomy Policy
- The National Policy Statement on the Bioeconomy was published in March 2018.
- The Bioeconomy Implementation Group was established based on an action of the National Policy Statement on the Bioeconomy in 2018 and is co-chaired by DECC and DAFM. The implementation group was tasked, through the policy statement, with establishing a consultative structure to support the development of Ireland’s bioeconomy. This has led to the development of the bioeconomy forum.
- The two Ministers announced that Mr. John Malone, an ex-Secretary General of the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine, has been appointed as the Bioeconomy Forum chairperson. In addition, Professor Kevin O’Connor, Director of BiOrbic, Bioeconomy SFI Research Centre has been appointed as the Forum vice-chair and the Chair of the Expert Advisory Group that will support the forum with scientific and technical advice and input. The Departments of the Agriculture, Food & the Marine (DAFM) and of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC) will support the operation of the Forum.
- As demand for biomass and other ecosystem services may increase hand in hand with the need to reduce dependence on fossil resources, the value-added of the holistic approach on the bioeconomy grows as a means of avoiding harmful pressure on ecosystems and the environment. Considering the various sectors of the bioeconomy holistically rather than in isolation can provide a good basis for co-delivering ecosystem services and prioritising uses of biomass. Focusing on the cascading and circular use of biomass, i.e. optimising the design of durable circular biobased materials and products and the up-cycling of residues and bio-based recycled material to innovative solutions replacing the fossil-based ones, remains essential.
Bioeconomy Forum Chairperson & Vice-Chair
- John Malone was Secretary General of the Department of Agriculture and Food from 1997 to 2004. In that role he was heavily involved in policy formulation for the agri-food sector, in negotiations at EU and world trade level. He was part of the 3-person review panel appointed by the then Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan, following his commitment at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Finance and the Public Service that a review (Wright Review) would be carried out to assess the Department of Finance’s policy advice and performance over the past 10 years (2000-2010) and to make recommendations on how best the Department might adapt to meet the challenges of the future. Since then he has held a number of Directorships e.g. Director for Animal Health Ireland, Chairperson of the Irish Equine Centre and chairperson for the Enterprise Ireland funded Meat Technology Ireland.
- Professor Kevin O’Connor is Director of BiOrbic, Bioeconomy SFI Research Centre, a Principal Investigator at the UCD Earth Institute and a Full Professor in the School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, UCD. He is chairperson of the scientific committee for the EU bioeconomy research and innovation public-private partnership, a former member of the European Commission biobased products expert group and a previous member of European Commission committee entitled the “lead market initiative for Bio-based products (2008-2011). He was a leading driver of the development of the €6M National Bioeconomy Campus at Lisheen, Co. Tipperary, and the Irish EU Model demonstrator region for the sustainable production of chemicals.
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