1. Introduction and Objectives
In the transition towards a low fossil carbon (and eventually decarbonized) economy, scarcity of resources represents a global societal challenge. It underpins the need for circular (self-sustaining) resource management systems supplying human needs while ensuring ecosystem health and preserving production systems. As resources get scarcer, circulating them within the economy is increasingly valuable. This also applies for carbon (scarce in a low-fossil economy): given the urgency to stabilize global climate, re-circulating carbon along with inducing negative emissions are well-acknowledged necessities.
Parallel to increasing scarcity of resources, there are increasing global demands for clean water-, soil- & air, arable land, healthy food and sustainable consumer products, among others. These demands all put pressure on the boundaries of our finite planet.
This SWG takes a systemic approach to identify regulatory, social and economic barriers and enablers of a transition towards an environmentally sustainable low (fossil) carbon economy. It focuses on circular- and bioeconomy. We model current and future ecosystem health and services, e.g. emissions capture, nutrients cycling and climate change mitigation strategies. We also model circular resource management systems, upcycled biowaste value chains and high value biorefinery systems. Monetary and non-monetary valorization of environmental restoration and climate mitigation services are proposed policy measures and investment decision support tools to boost a circular regenerative bioeconomy.
Aim: Support the transition towards an environmentally sustainable low fossil carbon economy, with focus on circular- and bioeconomy
- Develop a global database documenting several circular resource management systems and bioeconomy conversion pathways.
- Quantifying ecosystem health restoring resource flows, e.g. nutrient recycling and carbon capture and reuse
- Assessing the performance of green engineering and waste-based biorefineries as instruments for enhancing ecosystem health and services
- Identifying, at the light of the Sustainable Development Goals, the key parameters characterizing the performance of circular regenerative (bio-)economic value chains
- Developing monetary and non-monetary valorization approaches quantifying environmental restoration and climate mitigation services from urban-industrial production systems
- Proposing policy measures and monitoring frameworks to support ecosystem health and to ensure the preservation of ecosystem services for future generations
- Developing integrated assessment tools quantifying the preservation of ecosystem services from circular resource management and production systems
- Developing decision support tools for cross-sectoral resource conservation and for establishing closed loop short value chains at the local community, urban-industrial and inter-industrial levels.
- Teaching theories, principles and assessment tools addressing ES in circular (bio-) economy;
- Disseminating and communicating research-based knowledge on ecosystem health and service preserving resource flows within a circular (bio-)economy
2. Lead Team & Members
- Professor Marianne Thomsen, Head of Research Unit – EcoIndustrial Systems Analysis, Department of Environmental Science, Platform leader at the Aarhus Center for Circular Bioeconomy, Aarhus University, Denmark
- Associate Professor/Principal Investigator Lorie Hamelin, Engineering of Biological Systems & Processes Department, Federal University of Toulouse, France
3. Activities & Outputs
- PhD summer schools on the overall two following subjects: Ecosystem health-preserving resource flows within and between human and natural systems & The role of circular- and bioeconomy in the transition towards an environmentally sustainable low fossil carbon economy
- Stakeholder workshops and conferences aiming at identifying enablers of closing the natural resource loops while eliminating Environment & Health externalities