Experts Assess Biofuels Screening Toolkit at UNIDO Biofuels Conference

UNIDO7 May 2013: Participants at the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) Biofuels Conference have assessed the Biofuels Screening Toolkit, which was developed to help ensure the sustainability of biofuels production, in recognition of the potential negative effects of biofuels production on the environment and on food security.

The Conference, which was held from 18-19 March 2013, in Vienna, Austria, provided an opportunity for participants to share views on the challenges and possibilities of biofuels production and use. It focused on the question of whether biofuels production can be sustainable, and if so, how this can be assessed. The screening toolkit assessed by participants was the main outcome of the 'Global Assessments and Guidelines for Sustainable Liquid Biofuel Production in Developing Countries' research study carried out by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and UNIDO.

The Toolkit features 11 sustainability indicators that can be used to identify project conditions where there are: no significant risks; potential risks that could be mitigated by specific project designs; and high risks that cannot be mitigated. In relation to environmental sustainability, the Toolkit examines greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, biodiversity protection, land and resource-use efficiency, and soil and water impacts. Evaluating the Toolkit, experts attending the Conference commented on how: specific regional data would be collected; the research and Toolkit could be used for policy and project formulation at a national level; and the Toolkit could be adapted to different regions.

At the end of the Conference, the overall positive reception of the Biofuels Screening Toolkit was noted, with Diego Masera, Chief of UNIDO's Renewable Energy Unit stating that the Biofuels Screening Toolkit "gives us a practical aid in selecting projects, making sure no adverse impacts are caused. This will allow UNIDO to implement biofuel projects that can bring real benefits to local communities, such as employment, self-sufficiency in energy generation and the reduction of poverty.” UNIDO also plans to test the Toolkit with a project by the end of 2013, possibly in Ukraine, Thailand or a West African country. [UNIDO Press Release] [Publication: Global Assessments and Guidelines for Sustainable Liquid Biofuel Production in Developing Countries]