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Conceptualization of an Indicator System for Assessing the Sustainability of the Bioeconomy
The increased use of biogenic resources is linked to expectations of “green” economic growth, innovation spurts through biotechnology, development options for rural areas, and an increasingly regenerative resource base that is also climate-neutral. However, for several years the signs for unintentional and unwanted side effects have been increasing. In 2015, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was published at the international level in order to address this problem and deliver a starting point for a comprehensive sustainability criteria evaluation catalogue. Impact indicators to quantify the environmental burden induced by national activities in foreign countries are especially lacking. In this article a comprehensive framework for the evaluation of the sustainability of the bioeconomy, considering key objectives and relevant criteria for environmental, economic, and social sustainability is developed. A special focus is set to the intersection area of the three pillars of sustainability, where the particularly important integrative key objectives and the indicators assigned to them (e.g., resource footprints) apply. This indicator set can be used as a basis for bio-economy monitoring, which uses and produces differently aggregated information on different levels of action, with a focus at the national level but also including global impacts of domestic production and consumption.