Impact story

Development of the bio-economy and regulatory challenges

The bioeconomy comprises those parts of the economy that use renewable biological resources from land and sea – such as crops, forests, fish, animals and micro-organisms – to produce food, materials and energy. Although it is one of the most innovative and technologically advanced market sectors in the EU, most regulations concerning the bioeconomy date back to the beginning of the millennium.

The Development of the Bioeconomy and Regulatory Challenges (DBRC) project, funded by the German government, focuses on teaching, research, and scientific advice on regulation of the bioeconomy. It involves partners from WUR (AEP, COM, PAP, RIKILT, PHI, and Plant Breeding), and other partners (IAMO, CBS, ESSEC and University of Tuebingen). Pooling knowledge from several scientific disciplines has allowed us to enage decision makers in interdisciplinary solutions to regulatory problems.

Impact on law- and policy-making

The project has already had significant impact on law- and policy-making, and prompted climate change litigation. Together with the University of Tuebingen, we conducted research on the legal construction of the Dutch Urgenda case, and evaluated the extent to which it can be applied to the German context. Our results were published in an open access publication in the Zeitschrift fuer Umweltrecht.

This publication provided the scientific basis for the German government to evaluate, in an official brief to the German Parliament, the adequacy of a rights-based climate law, and has led to important debates on climate-related legislation in Germany. Based on this brief, several private climate actions against prominent German firms, such as Volkswagen, were filed.

Basis for reform Common Agricultural Policy

Our research on the need to further imbed environmental concerns into agricultural policy, published in policy papers, has provided the scientific basis for the formulation of the German position regarding the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

While the policy tools were developed by other partners, the key contribution of the LAW group in this area has been to translate policy options into draft legislation.

Our findings were published in the prestigious European Law Review. Since then, our work has been referred to several times at high level meetings, in public speeches by German ministers (including the German minister of the environment), and by the German farmers’ Union.