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Discussion paper to define the concept of a rural bio-economy

The future development of bio-economy activities in rural areas has not been specified yet on a higher level in Germany, neither in the political debate nor by the different players in research and practice. In many cases, rural areas are considered to be only a raw material supplier for industrial bio-economy concepts. Contrary to that, there are many opportunities and potentials to have a primary and secondary processing of renewable raw materials in various fields in rural areas, just to mention food and feed production as well as the material and energetic utilization of biomass and biological resources. If in future this capacity is increasingly used, multiple value chains and employment effects could be realized in rural areas. Furthermore, by substituting fossil resources, this development would also contribute to environmental and climate protection goals.

The authors present with this paper a definition for the concept of a rural bio-economy, which is put up for discussion to external experts. Focusing on the political landscape, it is interesting to consider, whether the concept of a rural bio-economy is currently explicitly or implicitly addressed in different policy fields and how it will be further developed. Furthermore, the paper offers findings, showing space potentials of renewable raw materials and potentials of residual materials. This information could be used for the development and expansion of various value chains. In addition, the paper introduces findings about markets of individual bio-based products that have potentials for a primary and secondary processing of the addressed materials in rural areas. Finally, the paper concludes with an information on further research activities as well as an outlook on already visible research needs.