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FAO/UNEP/UN-Energy Bioenergy Decision Support Tool -
MODULE 0: Introduction
Module 0: Introduction
The Bioenergy Decision Support Tool (DST) aims to assist
policymakers and programme developers in capitalising on the
opportunities, meeting the challenges and mitigating the risks that
can arise from a signifcant up-scaling of bioenergy production
and use. The DST is divided into a number of decision support
modules, with each module including links to other modules
where appropriate, as well as links to external sources and
references. This module explains the basic decision framework,
describes the purpose of the DST and the various decision
modules and presents a guide for users.
The bioenergy DST recognizes that decisions are often made at
two different levels: the national or regional level in the defnition
of a bioenergy strategy, and the specifc project or investment
level in an approval or licensing process. In an ideal world, the
government has a clear strategy in place before making decisions
on major investments. However, in practice investment decisions
may have to be made without the guidance of an established
strategy, or while the strategy is being formulated. Furthermore,
updating or modifying a strategy in response to ongoing develop-
ments also takes time and individual project investment decisions
will have to be made in the meantime.
At the national level, the emphasis in the DST lies in assisting
decision-makers in balancing objectives, choosing appropriate
technologies and implementation options and mainstreaming
sustainability principles into bioenergy policy and programme
decisions. At the investment level, the focus is on assuring an
appropriate evaluation of the expected positive and negative
impacts before making investment decisions. In addition, the DST
provides guidance on developing procedures to improve project
or programme implementation and mitigate risks that have been
identifed. The objectives and purpose are described further
below, followed by a description of the decision modules and a
guide for users of the DST.
The DST is targeted especially to decision-makers at regional,
national and local levels in countries that are facing strategic
decisions about the expansion of modern bioenergy. A further
target audience includes policy analysts, development offcers,
project developers, feld staff, and others working on bioenergy
and development issues.
The DST aims to support a responsible decision-making process
that capitalises on emerging opportunities, manages risks and
challenges in a transparent manner and can assist in bioenergy
strategy formulation. A clear decision-making framework leads
to a more stable investment climate and attracts fnancing, trade
and investment not only in greater amounts but also of a higher
quality. The purpose of this DST is threefold:
1. Provide countries faced with complex decisions on bioenergy
development with step-wise guidance on the key questions
that need to be considered;
2. Put at the disposal of countries a set of technical resources
and links to existing tools, guidelines and knowledge bases
that are relevant to the critical risks and challenges;
3. Offer guidance on identifcation and inclusion of stakeholders
in the bioenergy decision-making process and on adopting
transparent processes for good governance.
The DST does not aim to provide specifc guidance for optimising
the choice of bioenergy feedstocks or applications, which
depends strongly on local conditions and on the basic objectives
and priorities in the bioenergy strategy. Decision-makers will need
to use complementary tools to conduct further analysis when it
comes to choosing the particular bioenergy options that will be
pursued or encouraged. A number of tools and resources are
listed as references in the DST, some of which may be appropriate
for the specifc tasks associated with carrying out the strategy.
The DST is thus not intended to be prescriptive but rather to
offer guidance and technical resources to allow policy-makers
and other stakeholders to defne an appropriate decision-
making process and to identify and promote programmes and
approaches that ft the priorities and resources of the country or
region. There is no scoring process for evaluating the feasibility or
sustainability of a strategy or an investment. Decision-makers can
therefore devise their own procedures for weighing the signif-
cance of the various policy objectives and bioenergy options,
which will require both qualitative and quantitative analyses/
assessments. The ultimate design of strategies, decision proce-
dures, and project screening is thus left to national, regional or
local bioenergy Task Forces and/or other decision-making bodies.
Strategy and Project Levels
The DST provides decision support at the two different levels:
STRATEGY and PROJECT. The support for bioenergy strategy
formulation aims to guide the various steps in that process, from
the identifcation of relevant stakeholders through to the steps
required in preparing for implementation of the strategy. It is aimed
especially at supporting the user in setting goals and priorities
for a bioenergy strategy and insuring that key drivers, impacts,
and stakeholders are included. The guidance at the project level
focuses on those processes associated with a specifc project
that has been proposed or identifed. The project level guidance
serves a number of purposes in lieu of—or as a complement
to—a national or regional bioenergy strategy:
1. Some countries or regions may not have a strategy but
are faced with bioenergy project proposals that come with
signifcant issues and impacts associated that need to be
addressed in a structured and comprehensive way;
2. For those countries that have a strategy, a given project
proposal should be viewed in the context of the strategy and
should be consistent with it;
3. The size of a project driven by international investors may be
so large and/or its purposes may be novel or special, so that
the project may have a major impact on the strategy or the
manner in which it is implemented, i.e. the project may have
a signifcant strategic component;
4. A strategy that was previously formulated may need to be
updated; given the infuence of new project proposals, a
structured method for project screening offers a mechanism
to support the revision of the bioenergy strategy as well as
providing guidance in its own right;
5. A strategy may exist at local, national, or regional levels,
whereas a project will generally have its greatest impacts
at the local level, and thus the project screening process
can also be used as a way to link across political-economic
scales so as to avoid conficts, take advantage of common
infrastructure and otherwise look for useful synergies to
Comprehensive decision support at the project level is important
for LDCs if maximum benefts are to be obtained for the affected
population as well as the nation or region as a whole. In the
case of international rather than domestic investors and/or for