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Sustainable Capital ? The Neoliberalization of Nature and Knowledge in the European “Knowledge-based Bio-economy”

Author

Listed:
  • Kean Birch

    () (School of Applied Social Sciences, University of Strathclyde, 50 Richmond Street, Glasgow G1 1XQ, UK)

  • Les Levidow

    () (Development Policy and Practice, Open University, Chambers Building, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, UK)

  • Theo Papaioannou

    () (Development Policy and Practice, Open University, Chambers Building, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, UK)

Abstract

As an EU policy agenda, the “knowledge-based bio-economy” (KBBE) emphasizes bio-technoscience as the means to reconcile environmental and economic sustainability. This frames the sustainability problem as an inefficiency to be overcome through a techno-knowledge fix. Here ecological sustainability means a benign eco-efficient productivity using resources which are renewable, reproducible and therefore sustainable. The KBBE narrative has been elaborated by European Technology Platforms in the agri-food-forestry-biofuels sectors, whose proposals shape research priorities. These inform policy agendas for the neoliberalization of both nature and knowledge, especially through intellectual property. In these ways, the KBBE can be understood as a new political-economic strategy for sustainable capital . This strategy invests great expectations for unlocking the productive potential of natural resources through a techno-knowledge fix. Although eco-efficiency is sometimes equated with biological productivity, commercial success will be dependent upon new combinations of “living” and “dead” labour.

Suggested Citation

  • Kean Birch & Les Levidow & Theo Papaioannou, 2010. "Sustainable Capital ? The Neoliberalization of Nature and Knowledge in the European “Knowledge-based Bio-economy”," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 2(9), pages 1-21, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:2:y:2010:i:9:p:2898-2918:d:9557
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gerbens-Leenes, P. W. & Nonhebel, S., 2002. "Consumption patterns and their effects on land required for food," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1-2), pages 185-199, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:6:p:1031-:d:101517 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Baka, Jennifer & Bailis, Robert, 2014. "Wasteland energy-scapes: A comparative energy flow analysis of India's biofuel and biomass economies," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 8-17.
    3. Lisa Scordato & Markus M. Bugge & Arne Martin Fevolden, 2017. "Directionality across Diversity: Governing Contending Policy Rationales in the Transition towards the Bioeconomy," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(2), pages 1-14, February.
    4. Ida Grundel & Margareta Dahlström, 2016. "A Quadruple and Quintuple Helix Approach to Regional Innovation Systems in the Transformation to a Forestry-Based Bioeconomy," Journal of the Knowledge Economy, Springer;Portland International Center for Management of Engineering and Technology (PICMET), vol. 7(4), pages 963-983, December.
    5. Kean Birch, 2016. "Emergent Imaginaries and Fragmented Policy Frameworks in the Canadian Bio-Economy," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(10), pages 1-16, October.
    6. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:6:p:887-:d:99466 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Rick Bosman & Jan Rotmans, 2016. "Transition Governance towards a Bioeconomy: A Comparison of Finland and The Netherlands," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(10), pages 1-20, October.
    8. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:4:p:669-:d:96565 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Baka, Jennifer & Bailis, Robert, 2014. "Wasteland energy-scapes: a comparative energy flow analysis of India's biofuel and biomass economies," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 59896, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    10. Sleenhoff, Susanne & Landeweerd, Laurens & Osseweijer, Patricia, 2015. "Bio-basing society by including emotions," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 78-83.
    11. Shortall, O.K. & Raman, Sujatha & Millar, Kate, 2015. "Are plants the new oil? Responsible innovation, biorefining and multipurpose agriculture," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 360-368.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    knowledge-based bio-economy; European Technology Platforms; innovation narratives; techno-knowledge fix; neoliberal nature; sustainable capital;

    JEL classification:

    • Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products

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