Europe’s economy depends on oil and gas for chemistry, energy and all kinds of everyday products. However, fossil resources are scarce, and their use harms the environment as well as the climate. The current European Bioeconomy has been working towards freeing itself of this dependency; and has done so by providing industrial and everyday products made of bio-based resources regarding agriculture, forestry and oceanic sectors. The European Bioeconomy is up to the challenge of making Europe’s economy more sustainable by boosting growth and creating new jobs.
Enhancing the awareness of the broad public is key to the success of every innovation. However, in order to obtain acceptance, questions and concerns regarding the societal and economic issues related to the Bioeconomy must be addressed in a transparent, understandable and scientifically sound manner.
A Straightforward Explanation of the Opportunities and Challenges facing the European Bioeconomy
Everything new requires time for explanation, and of course, the ability of those with concerns to voice them freely. The public still has many questions regarding bio-based products, and many are still unfamiliar to the terminology used, which can often be quite scientific. Many worry about quality and functionality in consideration of their traditional, favourite products. Finally, many demand answers regarding the sustainability of bio-based products. Although this information is readily available, it is not often accessible, or taken into consideration by the everyday citizen.
The FNR coordinated European project BioCannDo, was able to provide this information to citizens by utilising key communication messages. These were carefully distributed at the right time, in the right way, and through the right channels of communication. The project ended after three years of hard work in September 2019. Ten recommendations and experiences selected for the work of future communication projects can be found in the booklet “The BioCannDo experience: Let’s talk about bio-based products”. A comprehensive report with recommendations for the future communication of the Bioeconomy and bio-based products is available for download.
Development of Key Communication Messages
BioCannDo transferred scientific and technical language regarding bio-based products into a straightforward every day approach, so that communication concerning key aspects can be understood outside of scientific circles. The project developed key communication messages about the European Bioeconomy with a focus on selected bio-based products: household cleaning products, insulation materials and food packaging materials. Such key messages were developed together with expert stakeholders, were thoroughly fine-tuned, and then appropriately tested in workshops and focus groups. These key messages and additional background information are freely available on the AllThings.Bio website.
AllThings.Bio - The Information Portal for Consumers
The project communication portal www.AllThings.Bio, distributes original and external communication and educational materials about the Bioeconomy in Europe, and bio-based products to the public at large. It is the point of contact between the project and consumers looking for information and resources about bio-based products.
Communication activities of BioCannDo rely on formats that include journalistic articles, multimedia storytelling and videos. AllThings.Bio articles cover a broad range of consumer relevant topics such bio-based footwear, making clothes from waste milk or how to dispose of bio-based plastics. In total, more than 40 journalistic articles were written containing more than 160,000 online views, and more than 1,000 take-ups on external resources.
BioCannDo also published the AllThings.Bio slideshow, a series of “digital stories” concerning the Bioeconomy and bio-based products. The AllThings.Bio slideshow is a combination of texts, images, videos and links to external resources that describe the advantages that bio-based products bring to the table compared to their fossil-based counterparts.
Furthermore, a set of eight short and engaging videos featuring bio-based t-shirts, mugs, cleaners, lipsticks, soaps, tableware, straws and toys have been published on AllThings.Bio as well as on YouTube. The videos answer important consumer questions about their use and their properties. They reached more than 100,000 views on Facebook.
The BioCannDo Communication Network
BioCannDo brought together a network of actors involved in the European Bioeconomy (research) projects, who actively communicate about the benefits of the Bioeconomy to the general public. This network is a place for sharing good practices, stories and communication formats. Periodic webinars were the channel most frequently used for sharing experiences and results in the network. The recordings of the webinars are available here. Network partners are also listed on the AllThings.Bio bioeconomy map.
The BioCannDo Educational Community of Practice
The youth of today are the consumers and decision-makers of tomorrow. That is why a central goal of BioCannDo revolved around the establishment of an educational “Community of Practice” aimed at the exchange of ideas, materials, good practices and the development of lacking educational materials. To facilitate this exchange, a series of webinars were carried out. The webinars were recorded, and these recordings are available for download here.
In a first step, a mapping of educational materials and actors from primary schools up to university programmes in four countries (DE, FI, NL, BE) had been conducted. The mapping report with more than 300 resources is available for download, here.
New educational materials for schools were developed by the project and students at European universities were invited to develop their own teaching materials. Numerous materials and ideas for teaching topics about renewable resources in schools were also successfully developed.
B.T.G. Biomass Technology Group BV; prospex bvba; Stichting Avans; Youris.com
This project has received funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 720732.