Foreign Land Investments for Biofuel Production: An Analysis of the Debate and the EU Sustainability Policies on Biofuels

Mikkel Busck, Søren Nygaard Hansen, Anne Vestergaard Andersen & Sabrina Meersohn Meinecke

Studenteropgave: Semesterprojekt


This report examines the main positions in the current debate on land investments and biofuels and the presence of these in the sustainability criteria on biofuels in the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive. The analysis is divided in two, of which the first is a thorough examination of various reports and policy statements published by a range of different organizations, think tanks and scholars. These reports are analyzed using a heuristic theoretical approach to develop conceptual tools referred to as parameters that serve to identify the positions of the respective actors on different policy areas. The second analysis seeks to establish if these identified positions are present in the sustainability criteria developed in connection to EU’s 10 percent target on biofuels in transport. This is done through an analysis of the stakeholder contributions from a public consultation on the issue, Article 17 of the Renewable Energy Directive as well as a number of EU documents related to the development of the legislation. The result of the examination shows that there are various different positions within the current debate depending on the policy area and that different actors may position themselves differently on for example the environment than on the role of the state, the economy or the social implications. This implies that the current debate is characterized by fine distinctions that, on the other hand, are absent in the stakeholder contributions. Due to the lack of awareness of the potential social, economic and environmental implications related to biofuel production at the time the public consultation took place, as well as a very conductive questionnaire and an improper way of carrying out the consultation, the stakeholder contributions are characterized by great homogeneity. This is reflected in the sustainability criteria, in which only the environment is addressed, neglecting the social and economic implications, otherwise implied by the concept of sustainability and identified by the various positions in the current debate.

UddannelserInternationale Udviklingsstudier, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Bachelor el. kandidat
Udgivelsesdato20 dec. 2011


  • Large-scale land aquisitions
  • Biofuels, EU sustainability criteria