• This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
  • Earth.Org Newsletters

    Get focused newsletters especially designed to be concise and easy to digest

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Explainer: What Is Bioeconomy and Why Is it Important?

CRISIS - Viability of Life on Earth by Karnik Aswani Global Commons Nov 14th 20234 mins
Explainer: What Is Bioeconomy and Why Is it Important?

In today’s world, we are faced with a crucial challenge: growing our economies while taking care of the environment. Bioeconomy offers a way to do this by using biological resources responsibly. There are three main types of bioeconomy: one that balances economic growth with environmental care, one focused on using biology for economic gain, and one that protects biodiversity and empowers local communities. This article explores how these approaches help save nature by getting communities involved, with a special focus on why money matters in this important work.

Bioeconomy is the practice of responsibly utilising natural resources, such as plants, animals, and marine life, while harnessing biological knowledge to drive economic growth across diverse industries. 

There are three key bioeconomy types: the economic-ecological bioeconomy, which seeks a balance between economic gains and ecological sustainability; the mainstream bioeconomy, primarily concerned with leveraging biological resources for economic purposes in fields like agriculture and biotechnology; and the socio-biodiversity bioeconomy, distinguished by its focus on preserving biodiversity, empowering local communities, and safeguarding indigenous knowledge and cultural heritage. These approaches offer distinct strategies to achieve economic and ecological harmony.

Preserving biodiversity relies on dedicating land for conservation while requiring capital resources to support various initiatives. This involves trade-offs between the economic use of land and its conservation value. Government funding, private donations, and incentive mechanisms all play a vital role in supporting biodiversity preservation, which offers long-term benefits through ecosystem stability and valuable services.

You might also like: Nature Credits Can Succeed Where Carbon Capture Technologies Failed: An Interview with Walid Al Saqqaf and Amit Ghosh

Land-sharing and land-sparing are two approaches to conservation and land management. The first one combines farming and conservation on the same land. It can lead to challenges such as habitat fragmentation, increased human-wildlife conflicts due to crop damage, resource competition between agriculture and conservation, and limitations in the space available for effective biodiversity preservation. These challenges may, in turn, reduce agricultural productivity and impact food production. On the other hand, land-sparing designates separate areas exclusively for conservation, minimising the impact on food production. Efficient resource allocation in land-sparing aligns with bioeconomy’s principles, emphasising sustainable resource management, particularly in agriculture. Using public funding for land-sparing strategies can help balance biodiversity preservation and food production.

In a 2023 paper published in Sustainability, the authors proposed a research method that involves the use of indicators such as ecological impact, economic viability, and social benefits to evaluate and diagnose biodiversity value chains within the socio-biodiversity bioeconomy framework. These indicators are developed through interviews conducted with local actors engaged in the pirarucu, a fish species found in the Amazon region. Through this research method, it aims to gain a comprehensive understanding of the dynamics and effects of the pirarucu value chain, with a special emphasis on considering the viewpoints and insights of the local community regarding the ecological impact, economic viability, and social benefits associated with this resource and its role in the bioeconomy.

The socio-biodiversity bioeconomy places a significant emphasis on empowering local communities and involving community members in decision-making processes. The research method employed in the study aligns with this bioeconomic focus on community engagement, reinforcing the goal of community empowerment. This approach not only contributes to the economic sustainability of resources but it also plays a crucial role in preserving biodiversity and enhancing the well-being of the local community.

While supply chain management in the bioeconomy is undoubtedly a critical aspect of promoting biodiversity conservation, it is essential to recognise that several other economic factors also significantly influence both the protection and utilisation of biodiversity and, subsequently, their economic implications.

Biodiversity comes with financial risks that impact various industries including agriculture, pharmaceuticals, and tourism. In this context, financial institutions are increasingly incorporating the assessment of biodiversity risks into their investment decision-making processes. This would involve looking at the aspects of supply chain practice and how company operations can impact biodiversity, which in turn could affect the financial performance of the company itself. Additionally, the distribution of capital to different sectors as a result of investment decisions can have significant implications for various industries dependent on biological resources, such as agriculture, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and renewable energy. The allocation of capital can have an impact on the availability of funding for conservation and restoration efforts, as well as for research and development in bioeconomy-related fields.


In the face of escalating environmental crises and a rapidly changing global climate, the bioeconomy emerges as a beacon of hope. All three approaches to bioeconomy offer a way to balance economic growth and ecological sustainability. 

Biodiversity preservation is paramount, demanding conservation land and careful trade-offs, supported by government funding, private donations, and incentives. Strategies like land-sharing and land-sparing provide options, with the latter leaning towards sustainable resource management, albeit requiring substantial public funding. Community engagement takes a central role in the socio-biodiversity bioeconomy, empowering local communities. 

Significantly, financial institutions now consider biodiversity risks in investment decisions, impacting industries reliant on biological resources and funding for conservation, restoration, and bioeconomy-related research. This underscores the critical role of finance in shaping the future of these industries and their environmental impact. The bioeconomy offers a path forward, a promise of sustainability amidst a world grappling with environmental challenges and climate deterioration.

You might also like: The Remarkable Benefits of Biodiversity

About the Author

Karnik Aswani

Karnik Aswani, a data science and engineering management enthusiast with dual master's degrees and a strong background in engineering and science. Proficient in analytics techniques, he aims to merge his diverse skills in data science, engineering, and business to drive innovation and success as an aspiring entrepreneur.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Hand-picked stories once a fortnight. We promise, no spam!

Instagram @earthorg Follow Us