Establishment of a bio-based economy has been recognised as one of the key issues for sustainable development For future developments renewable resources will play a key role as CO2 neutral raw material for sustainable industrial production to curb depletion of fossil resources. Options to fully exploit the potential of renewable resources as industrial chemical feedstock imply different interdependent routes. In this paper, the various scenarios how to achieve a bio-based economy are discussed. ranging, from the traditional 'complex route' via chemical conversion, to shifting to a glucose-based economy (C6) or transformation of biomass into C1 or C2 chemical building blocks, following the approach of the petrochemical industries. For each scenario, an integrated chain approach is essential. All aspects need to be addressed from food security. food safety, 'green' energy production and development of sustainable non-food products for industry, to waste management, recycling and disposal. The emerging, strategies require combined efforts from both science and commercial enterprise, facilitated by governmental legislation and should be based upon a broad public support. (C) 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.