The Expert Meeting on the New and Dynamic Sectors of World Trade, 7-9 February 2005, held in Geneva, Switzerland, recommended that UNCTAD give higher priority attention to work on biofuels, including further research, analysis, technical cooperation, and consensus building. In response, UNCTAD launched, on 21 June 2005, the BioFuels Initiative by convening an international advisory Expert Group to assist developing countries in capturing the multiple-win advantages of greater production, use, and trade in bio-fuels resources and technology.
In July 2005, the boards of the United Nations Foundation and the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships (UNFIP) decided to support the programme Biofuels Initiative - Trade, Investment, and Capacity Building Opportunities. This grant supports UNCTAD's efforts to assess the trade competitiveness of developing countries in the growing worldwide use and trade in biofuels, as well as market access and market entry issues related to imports of biofuels in developing countries. In 2006, the Government of Norway made a contribution to this initiative.
Between 2005 and 2012, the BioFuels Initiative has produced a number of studies on key issues concerning the interlinkages between biofuels, trade and development. Thematic studies included assessments of global biofuel markets, technology options, sustainability certification, as well as a survey of south-south initiatives on biofuels cooperation. The initiative also engaged in concrete capacity building initiatives, benefiting countries like Guatemala and Mexico. In the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) the UNCTAD BioFuels initiative held a side-event along with partners, discussing issues of relevance for biofuels development in different national contexts.
The Initiative, with its partners, seeks to add value by providing interested countries with access to sound economic and trade policy analysis, capacity building activities and consensus building tools.
The Initiative tailors national strategies according to specific national circumstances and needs. It shares lessons from success, as well as to illustrating problems encountered by developed and developing countries alike in dealing with the technical, political, economic and sustainability-related aspects of biofuels.