The Global Cropland Footprint of the Non-Food Bioeconomy

ZEF-Discussion Papers on Development Policy No. 253

30 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2018

See all articles by Martin Bruckner

Martin Bruckner

Vienna University of Economics and Business

Stefan Giljum

Vienna University of Economics and Business

Günther Fischer

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

Sylvia Tramberend

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

Jan Börner

University of Bonn - Center for Development Research (ZEF)

Date Written: April 2018

Abstract

A rapidly growing share of global agricultural areas is devoted to the production of biomass for non-food purposes. The derived products include, for example, biofuels, textiles, detergents or cosmetics. Given the far-reaching global implications of an expanding non-food bioeconomy, an assessment of the bioeconomy’s resource use from a footprint perspective is urgently needed. We determine the global cropland footprint of non-food products with a hybrid land flow accounting model combining data from the Food and Agriculture Organization and the multi-regional input-output model EXIOBASE. The globally interlinked model covers all cropland areas used for the production of crop- and animal-based non-food commodities for the years from 1995 to 2010. We analyse global patterns of raw material producers, processers and consumers of bio-based non-food products, with a particular focus on the European Union. Results illustrate that the EU is a major processer and the number one consumer region of non-food cropland, despite being only the fifth largest producing region. Two thirds of the cropland required to satisfy EU non-food consumption are located in other world regions, giving rise to a significant dependency on imported products and to potential impacts on distant ecosystems. With almost 29% in 2010, oilseed production, used to produce, for example, biofuels, detergents and polymers, represents the dominant share in the EU’s non-food cropland footprint. There is also a significant contribution of more traditional non-food biomass uses such as fibre crops (for textiles) and animal hides and skins (for leather products). Our study emphasises the importance of comprehensively assessing the implications of the non-food bioeconomy expansion as envisaged in various policy strategies, such as the Bioeconomy Strategy of the European Commission.

Keywords: Bioeconomy, land footprint, non-food products, multi-regional input-output analysis, hybrid land flow accounting

JEL Classification: Q56, Q57

Suggested Citation

Bruckner, Martin and Giljum, Stefan and Fischer, Günther and Tramberend, Sylvia and Börner, Jan, The Global Cropland Footprint of the Non-Food Bioeconomy (April 2018). ZEF-Discussion Papers on Development Policy No. 253. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3160547 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3160547

Martin Bruckner (Contact Author)

Vienna University of Economics and Business

Welthandelsplatz 1
Vienna, Wien 1020
Austria

Stefan Giljum

Vienna University of Economics and Business ( email )

Welthandelsplatz 1
Vienna, Wien 1020
Austria

Günther Fischer

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) ( email )

Schlossplatz 1
Laxenburg, A-2361
Austria

Sylvia Tramberend

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) ( email )

Schlossplatz 1
Laxenburg, A-2361
Austria

Jan Börner

University of Bonn - Center for Development Research (ZEF) ( email )

Walter-Flex-Str. 3
Bonn, NRW 53113
Germany

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