chapter  2
15 Pages

Transition Towards a Biobased Economy

ByE. ten Pierick, E. M. van Mil and M. J. G. Meeusen

Our present economy, which is strongly dependent on fossil raw materials, is gradually changing into an economy based mainly on renewable raw materials. This process can be described as a transition, generally defined as the process of changing from one state or condition to another. Here, however, the term is used in a more specific sense, referring to a process of broad societal change. In this more restricted sense, transition is defined as a change process leading to an entirely new way of fulfilling societal needs (see Rotmans et al, 2001; Geels, 2002), for instance the need for food, housing, transport and energy. In the case of the transition from a fossilbased to a biobased economy, it concerns the need for raw materials. The use of the term transition in relation to broad societal change is still

relatively new (Rotmans et al, 2001). However, the growing interest in transitions in that specific sense is understandable. Society has become increasingly aware of the persistent nature of problems related to climate change, poverty, environmental pollution, and the exhaustion of stocks of petroleum and other fossil raw materials (e.g. Dirven et al, 2002; Rotmans, 2003).1 Furthermore, the realization has grown that despite the necessity for technological renewal, it is not sufficient to resolve such problems. It is important that technological renewal takes place in relation to renewal in other domains:

• The economic system must be reformed (e.g. internalization of external effects).