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FAO/UNEP/UN-Energy Bioenergy Decision Support Tool -
MODULE 0: Introduction
Structure of the DST
The DST provides separate decision support modules, with a
greater focus on the decision processes themselves, as opposed
to the specifc characteristics of bioenergy options. In line with
this emphasis on decision processes, the DST also places
considerable emphasis on guiding the identifcation of appropriate
methods and tools with which to conduct assessments and
evaluate policies, programmes and projects. Figure 2 provides
a schematic of the organisation of the DST with the arrows
indicating in general terms the net fow of information across the
In many respects, the central modules of the DST are Module
2 on Strategy and Module 4 on Project Screening, with Module
3 on Operations and Implementation also providing some key
linkages as well. Modules 0 and 1 provide foundational defnitions
and structural information to support the strategy and project
levels. Modules 5, 6 and 7 provide supporting knowledge and
methodologies for the decision processes given in Modules 2, 3
and 4. Modules 8 and 9 give a structured set of impact evaluation
questions and tools/resources, respectively, to which the other
Modules refer.
The main point in Figure 2 is therefore that a number of modules
are meant to provide supporting data, methods and/or refer-
ences for Modules 2, 3 and 4 since these are the Modules that
are focused on the decision processes
themselves. At the same time, Module
4 functions at the project level and thus
provides net input to Modules 2 and 3 since
these two modules are more concerned with
the higher-level strategic issues. Never-
theless, the supporting modules provide a
useful synthesis of knowledge on some key
topics and many users will fnd them valuable
independently of the manner in which they
feed information to the other Modules.
This Module (Introduction) describes the
purpose and basis of the DST along with
an overview and some suggestions for how
to use it effectively. The about the modular
structure of the DST and how users can take
advantage of that structure by determining
the subset of the DST that is most relevant
for them and then using that subset of the
Modules in a more effective way.
Module 1 (Techno-economic Background)
provides an overview of bioenergy
technologies and feedstocks. The module
reviews the defnitions, end-uses, sectors
and applications associated with bioenergy
production and consumption. It also provides background on
the basic techno-economic issues related to scale and effciency,
including a brief description of the entire bioenergy chain from raw
materials to fnal end-use.
Module 2 (Strategy) is a key module of the DST, as it is focused
squarely on the decision processes required in designing a
bioenergy strategy. This module tracks the various components
of the strategy process, beginning with the identifcation and
prioritisation of goals or objectives and fnishing with some
preparatory aspects for moving a strategy into the Implementation
phase. Other components along the way include identifcation
and engagement of stakeholders, the specifcation of sectors
and end-uses, the feedstocks and conversion options and the
determination of appropriate and suitable locations and land
resources for bioenergy feedstocks.
Module 3 (Operational Issues and Implementation) looks
towards the implementation of the bioenergy strategy, including
operational issues that arise in the context of regulatory frame-
works, resource ownership and various socio-economic factors.
A number of decision processes and methodologies addressed
in this module are also relevant at the project or programme level,
and not only at the strategy level. The process of measurement,
monitoring, evaluation and reporting is also reviewed in this
module; the process can be applied to policies, programmes or
projects in order to determine their effectiveness and suggest
corrections in their design or execution.
Module 4 (Project Screening) provides decision support
for screening and evaluating individual projects, including the
following aspects:
• assessment of the project proposal;
• reviewing the compatibility of the project with bioenergy
strategy (if one exists);
incorporating the appropriate stakeholder processes in a fair
and effective manner;
• evaluating impacts, with emphasis on food security, land use
and socio-economic factors;
identifying possible mitigation measures for impacts; and
• considering the fnancial viability of the project.
The project screening module thus considers
the project cycle both on its own and also
in relation to the bioenergy strategy and any
associated stakeholder processes. Large
projects will tend to have signifcant impacts
beyond the local level, and therefore the
decision processes will need to recognise
linkages, synergies and conficts across local,
national and regional levels.
Module 5 (Land Resources) is concerned
with the use of land resources for bioenergy
feedstock production, including assessment
methods for land suitability and availability.
Among the key risks in bioenergy expansion
are those associated with biodiversity and
high-carbon environments such as rainforests
or peatlands. Due to the land-intensive
nature of bioenergy and the potentially
high requirements for water and nutrients,
feedstock production in such sensitive areas
may have damaging and irreversible impacts.
Another issue considered in this module is the
feasibility and scope for producing bioenergy
feedstocks on marginal or degraded land.
Module 6 (People and Processes) reviews the roles of different
stakeholders and the relations between various actors and key
decision processes, with special reference to governance, stake-
holder processes and community relations. Some sections have
special relevance for project level decision-making while others
apply to both strategy and project levels. The primary function of
this module is to provide general guidance as to how to improve
fairness and equity during the process of developing a strategy
and/or a project.
Module 7 (Deployment and Good Practice) provides examples
and good practices that can help to guide the implementation
of a bioenergy strategy and/or support specifc programmes
or projects. Deployment in this case refers to the particular