CEE2ACT: empowering Central & Eastern European countries towards a Circular Bioeconomy

Achieving a circular bio-economy is increasingly gaining importance against a backdrop of climate change, energy and food insecurity, geopolitical instability and staggering waste of bioresources in the current linear agri-food system. The Horizon Europe CEE2ACT Project (GA No.4053629) will empower countries in Central Eastern Europe and beyond to develop circular bioeconomy strategies and action plans.

CEE2ACT will achieve this through knowledge transfer and innovative governance models to achieve better informed decision-making processes, societal engagement and innovation, building on the practice of experienced countries, including the Netherlands serving as role models in this context.

Knowledge transfer and inspiration in creative formats that address the motivations, needs and knowledge gaps of each CEE2ACT target country will be realized through the CEE2ACT National Bioeconomy Hubs. A participatory, non-political, bottom-up approach will be applied throughout the project activities, tackling specific knowledge gaps and shortcomings of the top-down conventional approach, building closer interconnections between actors across public institutions, private sector, industry, energy, SMEs, feedstock providers (e.g., waste, side streams, farmers, foresters, fishermen), academia and research, NGOs, CSOs in the target countries.

To achieve this, a baseline assessment will be carried out (socio-economic and environmental aspects), stakeholder engagement activities will be implemented ensuring the proper involvement and active participation of all relevant stakeholders. Digital solutions for sustainable governance will be created, exchange of know-how and best practices on technology transfer, building the capacities of the stakeholders to develop bioeconomy strategies.

The overall objective of the CEE2ACT project is to empower the target 10 countries in Central Eastern Europe and beyond (Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia) to develop bioeconomy strategies and action plans through knowledge transfer and the adoption of innovative governance models from experienced countries - countries with a more advanced bioeconomy policy - (Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Spain, Sweden, The Netherlands).

Specific objectives 2022 of the scientific work packages:

Baseline assessment and mapping

  • To provide evaluation of current state of bioeconomy implementation in CEE2ACT target countries
  • To recognize challenges in agriculture, bioenergy, soil management, use of fossil resources and innovation to be addressed by bioeconomy

Stakeholder engagement

  • To raise awareness among relevant stakeholder groups of the benefits of a circular bioeconomy
  • To seek their inputs and understand their interests and motivations for a national bioeconomy strategy

E-solutions for green transition

  • Enable CEE2ACT target groups (including NBHs members), to access information in different digital platforms in English and 10 local languages (self-assessment tool and e-learning in local languages)
  • Assist in building their capacities (NBHs members) on bioeconomy, increasing diversification of information sources

Knowledge transfer

  • optimise the involvement and collaboration with stakeholders from the bioeconomy sectors while building their capacities
  • capture, organise and disclose EU and international good practices and translate them into a comprehensive knowledge transfer strategy,
  • support the identification of appropriate technologies and know-how relevant for CEE2ACT target countries

Policy roadmaps and action plans

  • To develop a procedure to organize the preparation of the bioeconomy strategy
  • To produce guidelines for new organizations to participate strategy work

A Circular Bioeconomy has the potential to unlock the benefits of the sustainable use of various type of biomass by transforming them into value-added products. Most Central and Eastern European countries presently lag behind in the development of national strategies or action plans, despite the fact that many private entities in these countries are already engaged in bioeconomy activities. To realize the full potential of bioeconomy and to facilitate its transition, it is necessary to challenge the previous conceptualizations about how states, citizens and stakeholders interact with regards to natural resources governance. CEE2ACT will apply an interactive collaborative approach that empowers the different stakeholders to discuss and work together on issues directly affecting their environment and produce National-level roadmaps for the bioeconomy strategies in CEE2ACT target countries.

Research questions

  1. What is the current state of play of the development of circular bioeconomy strategies in the CEE2ACT target countries?
  2. What are effective ways to support national actors in their process of developing bioeconomy strategies through building connections between stakeholder groups?
  3. Which digital solutions can empower CEE2ACT countries through knowledge transfer by building on existing knowledge as well as sparking national research & innovation for a green transition?
  4. How can supportive actions be developed aimed at CEE2ACT target countries for the development of their roadmaps and national bioeconomy strategies?

Scientific relevance

The results of the CEE2ACT will contribute to scientific body of knowledge by understanding, exploring and stimulating cross-sectoral and inter-ministerial collaboration of key stakeholders in their transition towards a circular bio-economy by:

  • Increased knowledge of contributing factors related to levels of awareness of decision makers and public administrators in different ministries about the various bioeconomy sectors, the role of the bioeconomy in the EU policies, the benefits of the bioeconomy and particularly the circular bio-based sector, including products substituting fossil-based and carbon-intensive products and reducing of respective emissions of GHGs and other pollutants
  • Showcasing interactive ways to achieve increased levels of awareness of the bioeconomy and its potential among a broad range of national stakeholders, such as the general public, knowledge providers, universities, investors, industry, primary producers and NGOs, through tools such as for example workshops, living lab activities, exhibitions
  • Collecting empirical evidence on development of inter-ministerial interaction and engagement in Member States that are developing or are preparing to develop their Strategy and/or Action Plan through exchange of good practices and experiences at meetings and conferences
  • Developing analytical frameworks for national – EU level alignment of strategic orientation regarding bio-economy, through the mechanism of national bioeconomy hubs
  • Bridging the gap between strategic policy objectives and public and private sector measures in practice, and how they relate to various policy areas under the current EU policy framework (e.g., circular economy, energy, innovation, agriculture).