Climate change and the pandemic have worsened existing inequalities in populations that bear the costs of impacts to which they contributed little. Sustainable, fair and equitable forest-based bioeconomy strategies can build resilience, protect against future epidemics, and contribute to climate mitigation.
Bioeconomy-focused development initiatives are underway in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly related to value chain improvement, bioenergy and wild species cultivation, although not many address social sustainability issues. If they do, reported outcomes were mostly positive (45 percent) or mixed (38 percent). Positive outcomes were associated with improved livelihoods, profitability, inter- and intra-generational benefit capture, access to markets, education and training, conservation of natural resources, or land tenure rights.
Negative outcomes were associated with loss of the natural resources needed for subsistence due to overexploitation, dispossession, inequalities in benefit sharing, gender issues, or elite capture.
Problems that the – so far, largely informal – sector on its pathway to modernization needs to overcome include: closing legal and institutional gaps; forest tenure resolution; stakeholder participation in management and benefit sharing; and addressing elite capture and weak law enforcement.