Bioeconomy Policy Implementation in Bioeconomy States

Welcome to the website of the Junior Research Group BIOPOLISTA, based at the Agricultural and Food Policy Group of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) under the program “Bioeconomy as Societal Change“, the research project seeks to address the lack of a comprehensive perspective on the implementation of bioeconomy policies adopted by emerging bioeconomy states to ensure the transition to a sustainable bioeconomy.

Over the last decade, transformation towards a sustainable bio-based economy has been increasingly proposed as a potential pathway to achieve the SDGs and address systemic crises such as the climate and health crisis. However, the ambition to transform the fossil-based to a bio-based and resource-efficient economy is hindered by several factors. For example, the technological infrastructure is often inadequate, market failures can prevent sustainable innovations, and societal awareness of the bioeconomy is often lacking. In response and in a bid to govern their bioeconomies, emerging bioeconomy states worldwide have adopted bioeconomy policies. However, little to no research has been conducted to understand if and how bioeconomy policies are implemented and how different patterns in policy implementation relate to different developments of emerging bioeconomy states. Even where policy instruments are actively implemented, they may encounter unexpected barriers, lose political support due to shifting priorities, or generally fall short of expectations. Moreover, a well-developed bioeconomy state – a state with clearly formulated policies, efficient bureaucracy, ability to disseminate its ideas, and inclusive arenas of argumentation and contestation – will more likely implement its bioeconomy policy successfully. This is important, because the successful implementation of bioeconomy policies is critical to achieving the transformation to a sustainable bioeconomy.

The BIOPOLISTA research project combines policy approaches with the historical-institutionalist concept of the bioeconomy state to explain divergent patterns of policy implementation within and between countries with large bioeconomies. Using qualitative comparative methods, the project will analyze the implementation of bioeconomy policy instruments in six countries, namely Colombia, Germany, Malaysia, South Africa, France and the United States of America.

The Junior Research Group consists of two co-leaders, Dr. Maria Proestou and Dr. Nicolai Schulz, and four PhD students supported by two student assistants. It works closely with scientists in all six case study countries and is advised by an advisory board of world-leading experts. The outcomes of the BIOPOLISTA research project can improve our understanding of bioeconomy policy implementation, stimulate cross-national policy learning, shape transparent discussions on bioeconomy policy implementation and governance at the interface of policy, science, industry and society, and generate guidelines to enhance implementation success for policy makers and implementers, thereby contributing to the promotion of a sustainable bioeconomy transformation.