Don’t wait to produce renewable energy sustainably, urges IUCN

21 January 2009 | News story

A hands-on guide to producing bioenergy without harming the environment was launched today by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to coincide with the World Future Energy summit in Abu Dhabi.

Biofuels are on the agenda of the Summit, the largest meeting of the renewable energy industry this year. IUCN’s publication, Implementing Sustainable Bioenergy Production: a compilation of tools and approaches, urges governments, bioenergy producers and investors to learn from the environmental community and to start implementing sustainable approaches for bioenergy production. 

“The biggest potential for biofuels does not lie in filling jet engines and SUVs, but in improving access to modern energy services to the more than 2 billion people who depend on unhealthy and inefficient forms of energy, “ said IUCN’s Director General Julia Matron-Lefèvre.

The publication addresses a range of sustainability issues from gender to invasive species; water management to landscape planning – some of which are rarely included in the bioenergy debate.

IUCN Chief Scientist, Jeff McNeely, who also chaired the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB) environment group, said, “This collection of 30+ tools illustrates that we shouldn’t wait to start implementing sustainability practices when it comes to large-scale bioenergy production. We are not saying that we and our members and partners have all the answers, but this is a good place for a politician or developer to start when they are considering how biofuels can be produced sustainably. This is just a beginning. As the biofuel industry gains more experience over the years, they will also realise the market as well as ecosystem benefits of implementing sustainable production”.

A number of sustainability schemes for biofuels are under discussion. The RSB has launched its “Version Zero” set of twelve principles addressing numerous sustainability issues. IUCN’s work is contributing to bringing these principles to life and enabling developers to deliver sustainable products to the market.

The publication will be presented at the World Water Forum in Istanbul from the 16th to the 22nd March, where the links between water, energy and agriculture will be focused upon.

For more information or to set up interviews, please contact:

• Nadine McCormick, IUCN Energy Initiative,  +41 22 999 0257  nadine.mccormick@iucn.org
• Borjana Pervan, IUCN Communications,  +41 79 857 4072  borjana.pervan@iucn.org
 

About IUCN
IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges by supporting scientific research; managing field projects all over the world; and bringing governments, NGOs, the UN, international conventions and companies together to develop policy, laws and best practice.

The world's oldest and largest global environmental network, IUCN is a democratic membership union with more than 1,000 government and NGO member organizations, and almost 11,000 volunteer scientists and experts in some 160 countries. IUCN's work is supported by over 1,000 professional staff in 60 offices and hundreds of partners in public, NGO and private sectors around the world. IUCN's headquarters are located in Gland, near Geneva, in Switzerland.
www.iucn.org

Key definitions

Bioenergy: Energy produced from biomass whether for heat, electricity or transport

Biofuels: Liquid or gaseous fuels produced from biomass that can be used to replace petrol, diesel and other transport fuels

Biodiesel: Diesel replacement composed of methyl (or ethyl) esters of long chain fatty acids derived from plant oils, such as rapeseed, palm oil and soy