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The bioeconomy to reveal the full potential of territories

The bioeconomy is not only about the economic valorisation of biomass. In the full sense of the term, the bioeconomy implies a profound transformation of economic models, in order to build productive ecosystems that ensure an efficient loop of material and energy cycles, while minimising negative externalities. Capturing the full potential of the bioeconomy implies a systemic change, i.e. a radical shift in the positioning of a large number of actors. The territorial approach to economic development, which consists in favouring local links and local resources, is a privileged way of leading such a systemic change

In my book Le Renouveau des Territoires par la Bioéconomie*, to be published next summer, I explore the conditions for deploying a territorial approach to the bioeconomy. I describe the main economic foundations of territorial development before presenting their application to bioeconomic activities. It reviews the means of identifying the development potential of the bioeconomy on a territory and the guidelines to follow in order to associate the different stakeholders to build a balanced and efficient development strategy. It is accompanied by numerous examples of approaches taken by various types of stakeholders, focusing on both successes and inefficiencies.

One of the key points of the book is the necessary coexistence of different models involving different scales of production and different territorial scales. Just as the territorial approach cannot replace the ‘conventional’ approach (based on cost optimisation regardless of local anchorage) to development, realising the full potential of the bioeconomy will necessarily involve extremely varied forms of organisation, without one type of organisation taking precedence over the others. Taking the bioeconomy approach to its logical conclusion requires us to think of the economic system as a living system, introducing feedback loops, maximising virtuous interdependencies between heterogeneous actors, and replicating the same organisational principles at different scales, from the individual firm to large regional groupings. Achieving this transition implies complementing price signals with incentives to create such interdependencies, following an approach inspired by the principles of thermodynamics and ecology. I conclude with a plea to implement this bio-economic approach at all scales, as a guarantee of both wealth creation (especially in declining areas) and the resilience of the entire economic system.

Jean-Marc Callois


* Le Renouveau des Territoires par la Bioéconomie
(The bioeconomy to reveal the full potential of territories)

Series Matière à débattre et décider (Food for thought and decision)
Published by Quæ, about 240 pages
Publication date: summer 2022



Born in 1973, Jean-Marc Callois is a graduate of the Ecole Polytechnique and a general engineer of the Bridge, Waters and Forests. During his career, he has had a wide range of field experience in decentralised government services, local authorities and research institutes. He has a doctorate in economics and is a specialist in territorial development issues. Since 2013, he has focused his academic work on the bioeconomy. He is currently the ministerial delegate for agri-food companies at the Ministry of Agriculture and Food. In this capacity, he coordinates the monitoring of downstream companies in the bio-based sector, and coordinates the ministry’s policies affecting companies.

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