Biofuel expansion in the forest frontier: Trends, impacts and implications for governance

06 Dec 2010,

Preoccupation with energy security and global climate change in industrialized countries, and with an unfavorable balance of trade and the potential for capturing value in the global carbon market by developing countries, have together placed biofuels !rmly on the map of global land use change. Biofuels are viewed by many as having the potential to satisfy the world’s energy demand in a sustainable way while reducing its climate impact. While this may be true under certain circumstances, a number of recent !ndings bring this assumption into question while simultaneously raising concerns about the social and economic costs of such a fuel transition. This panel will present recent !ndings from research carried out by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Joanneum Research, the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM), the Council on Strategic and Industrial Research (CSIR), Stockholm Environment Institute and Profundo Economic Research. Presentations and discussions will explore two key themes. The !rst, trends in biofuels expansion and related impacts in the tropical forest zone, will look at global trends in biofuel production, trade and expansion and case studies on local social and environmental impacts. The second theme, instruments for governing the tradeoffs of biofuel expansion, will look at national legal and institutional frameworks promoting and regulating the feedstock sector, improved methods for carbon accounting, and mechanisms for governing biofuel finance.