The renewable energy imperative
Diversifying into renewable energy sources is an imperative at national, regional and global levels for economic and environmental sustainability. The biofuels sector has experienced considerable development over the past decade. To ensure that biofuels production and use yield positive environmental and development results, Governments have to develop appropriate strategies. For biofuels to make a major contribution to development, it is important that the comparative advantage of the South in this area be recognized and given scope, and that the South be involved in standard-setting.
Opportunity for developing countries
The production of biofuels - clean-burning, carbon-neutral fuels derived from sustainable agricultural practices - provides an opportunity for developing countries not only to use their own natural resources but also to attract the necessary foreign and domestic investment to achieve sustainable development goals. Widespread use of biofuels would provide greater energy security, improved quality of life, economic development, job creation and poverty alleviation, especially in rural areas.
The UNCTAD BioFuels Initiative was conceived to offer a facilitating hub for programmes already underway in a number of institutions. While several initiatives already exist among UN and non-UN bodies, it was felt that a “meeting point” was necessary to share experience and provide support to developing countries.
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 and economic aspects of biofuels.
The BioFuels Initiative works closely with the private sector to develop the business and sustainable development case for increased production, domestic use, and trade in biofuels. More specifically, the Initiative helps assess the potential that specific developing countries enjoy to engage in the growing worldwide production, use and trade of biofuels. It looks at the possible opportunities and impacts on domestic energy policies, food security, environmental management, job creation and rural development. It deals with trade flows, tariff regimes and market access and market entry issues affecting international trade in biofuels.
Sunflowers are one popular source for biofuels in developed and developing countries.
It will assess emerging investment opportunities for developing countries, including use of the Clean Development Mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol, and provide policy guidance, ideas and examples on how to overcome barriers when engaging in this new market. An International Advisory Expert Group provides guidance on technical issues related to biofuels' production and international trade.
|Developing countries are the primary beneficiaries of the programme.|
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 bio-fuels, including further research, analysis, technical cooperation, and consensus building. In response, UNCTAD launched, on 21 June 2005, the BioFuels Initiative by convening a "small" 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.