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FAO/UNEP/UN-Energy Bioenergy Decision Support Tool -
MODULE 3: Implementation and Operation
One main area of confict that can arise among the various actors
involved in biomass feedstock markets relates to employment
generation and labour conditions. While large-scale bioenergy
operations can generate many employment opportunities, these
will obviously depend on the degree of mechanization envisaged
for the different production and processing operations; as labour
becomes more expensive over time, the degree of mechanisation
will generally increase and the demand for manual labour will
decline. At the same time, the quality of jobs can improve, and
there may be positive environmental/health impacts at three
different levels:
• Local: less emissions and smoke (due to biomass burning);
• Regional/national: more biomass available as a national
domestic resource;
• Global: lower GHG emissions and more opportunities for
global bioenergy markets.
In addition to the amount of jobs, one has to look at the quality
of working conditions, and respect for international labour
standards. The International Labour Organization (ILO) Declaration
on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work is an expression
of commitment by governments to encourage fair conditions of
employment. Its four main thematic areas are:
• Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining;
• The elimination of forced and compulsory labour;
• The abolition of child labour; and
• The elimination of discrimination in the workplace.
The ILO has merged these four areas into the over-arching
concept of “decent work.” Decent work involves employment
opportunities that (ILO/FAO, 2007):
• Are productive and deliver a fair income;
• Provide security in the workplace and social protection for
• Offer better prospects for personal development and social
• Allow freedom for people to express their concerns, organize
and participate in the decisions that affect their lives; and
• Promote equality of opportunity and treatment for all women
and men.
Additional guidance and probing questions on employment and
conditions can be found in
<Mod8: Evaluating Impacts>.
Conficts can arise over land and resources in concession
schemes; of particular importance are the effects on land access
and the usage rights of smallholders and communities in the
process of allocation of land concessions aimed at investment
in bioenergy. This is particularly relevant in the case of—but not
exclusive to—liquid biofuels for transport aimed at the export
market. In some cases, farmers might be evicted from their land
without compensation; in other cases the compensation is worth
much less than the actual value of the land, and this happens
often due to lack of information on their rights and compensation
rules on the part of smallholders and communities.
Concession allocation for land already in use inherently leads to
competition, which, if not handled appropriately, can impact on
social harmony and political stability, and even lead to violence.
Conficts are also bad for investment. Even when an investor has
secure land tenure under national laws, it will not be secure if the
related land occupation is deemed illegitimate by local people.
Conficts between the investor and local communities will then
delay or halt stop investment, due to negative effects such as
Table 2: Characterisation of Bioenergy Implementation Schemes
Land belongs to:
Size of the scheme
Company: Concession
Smallholders/community: Contract farming
Table 3: Main Roles of Primary Stakeholders in Bioenergy Feedstock Schemes
Ownership schemes Roles of primary stakeholders
Farmer/community Farmers’ association
Rural workers
• Plantation (land
belongs to a
company, operating a
• Produces
• Processes
• Can sell energy locally
• Not involved, and
might be forcefully
displaced from
their land
• Not applicable
• Employed by the
• Contract farming
(land belongs to
smallholders and/or
local community)
• Buys from farmers
• Often provides inputs
• Processes
• Can sell energy locally
• Produces
• Sells feedstock
• Sometimes sells on
farmers’ behalf
• group marketing
• Negotiates on
smallholders’ behalf
• Improves terms of
engagement between
company and
• Provides information
and training
• Employed by the
company and/or by