Food security criteria for voluntary biomass sustainability standards and certifications
With the shift from petroleum-based to biomass-based economies, global biomass demand and trade is growing. This trend could become a threat to food security. Though rising concerns about sustainability aspects have led to the development of voluntary certification standards to ensure that biomass is sustainably produced, food security aspects are hardly addressed as practical criteria and indicators lack. The research objective is to identify how the Human Right to adequate Food (RtaF), which is applicable in over 100 countries, can be ensured in local biomass production and in certification systems in food insecure regions. We aim to first develop a suitable conceptual framework to integrate the RtaF in biomass production, processing and trade and derive guidance for the choice the criteria. Second, we identify appropriate criteria to ensure that the RtaF is not violated by certified biomass operators based on a comprehensive literature review, stakeholder workshops and expert interviews with certification bodies, standard initiatives, NGOs, ministries, scientists and enterprises. The conceptual framework is based on the UN “Voluntary Guidelines to Support the Progressive Realization of the RtaF in the Context of National Food Security” and the four dimensions of food security. Based on this framework, we developed the rights-based food security principle. We selected 45 criteria that ensure that the RtaF is not adversely affected by certified biomass production of companies and farmers. The suggested criteria are applicable to all biomass types and uses and serve as a best-practice set to complement existing sustainability standards for biomass.