Does bioeconomy good to Central Asia?
A team of young researchers at University for Sustainable Development, Eberswalde (HNEE), Germany, investigates possible future pathways in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Pakistan. In terms of an emerging bioeconomy, the three countries have not yet been well attended in international debates. But with recent developments and the impact of China’s growing economy the re-gion is back into focus
What alternatives to the extraction of fossil fuels would be thinkable for Kazakhstan? Which measures could make Tajikistan’s cotton production more sustainable? How can agrarian technologies be optimized in Pakistan in order to meet demand, but without harming smallholding farmers?
Sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the Junior Research Group TRANSECT will investigate social-ecological effects and interdependencies of agrarian transformations in three specific regions in Central and South Asia. „The region has rather not been well attended by researchers,” says Dr Michael Spies, project leader of TRANSECT at HNEE. “Kazakhstan, Pakistan and Tajikistan are, however, exciting countries, though all of the three countries face vast ecological and social challenges.” Changes in climate patterns are evident, this causes problems with water demand and irrigation. Past approaches to the use of the agrarian landscape left a deep imprint on the region as well.
Therefore, will bioeconomy – understood as utilisation of agrarian and other renewable biological resources to secure food, industrial production, and bioenergy – do well on those regions? And, what kind of risks and opportunities are associated with it? To find answers to those questions, HNEE researchers will engage and collaborate with local people in the Punjab (Pakistan), Khatlon (Tajikistan), and Almaty (Kazakhstan). “Each region will serve as case study. In a first step we will examine and analyse current trends of local agrarian developments. The results will then provide the foundation for an exploration of possible future scenarios in terms of the bioeconomy,” describes coordinator Madlen Mählis the course of the project.
Research group members will begin with field studies already in November this year, each member spends a whole year in one of the three regions. In order to examine social and ecological risks as well as the scope of political governance and planning, joint workshops in cooperation with farmers and smallholders and other local partners are planned. There are also research collaborations with colleagues from neighbouring China scheduled. “China’s increasing engagement in agricultural developments is a common denominator in the three countries. Therefore, its growing bioeconomy is predicted to have multiple effects on the region,” explains Dr Michael Spies. Consequently, it will be essential to include Chinese perspectives into the research.
About the project:
TRANSECT – Agrarian and Social-Ecological Complexities. Local Bioeconomy Scenarios in Central and South Asia is a Junior Research Group, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education (BMBF) with a grant of 2.613.171 Euros. It runs over five years, from 05/2019 to 04/2024. The research group is formed of six members.
Head of Junior Research Group
Dr. Michael Spies
Faculty of Forest and Environment
+49 3334 657- 198
Faculty of Forest and Environment
+49 3334 657- 539
https://www.ptj.de/projektfoerderung/biooekonomie/gesellschaftlicher-wandel Information about BMBF research program "Bioeconomy as Societal Change":