Biofuels and Certification: A Workshop at the Kennedy School of Government, May 11–12, 2009

CID Faculty Working Paper No. 187

Charan Devereaux and Henry Lee
November 2009


On May 11th and 12th, 2009, Harvard Kennedy School’s Environment and Natural Resources Program (ENRP) and the Sustainability Science Program (SSP) brought over 20 of the world’s leading experts from the fields of science, policy, and business to Cambridge, MA, to address the issues surrounding biofuel certification. This workshop on biofuels and certification was carried out as part of an ongoing collaboration between the ENRP and SSP to investigate policy options for the sustainable development of biofuels. The collaboration has focused on exploring whether, and if so, how, biofuels could be developed in ways that simultaneously help to meet the world’s energy needs, protect the environment, and advance the livelihoods of farmers and other land users around the world.

The workshop discussions were off-the-record, with each participant present in his or her own capacity, rather than representing an organization. This workshop was informed by the discussion at a session held in May 2008 at San Servolo Island, Venice, Italy that focused on the goals and concerns surrounding the use and production of biofuels. This summary report of the Workshop on Biofuel Certification represents a synthesis of the main points and arguments that emerged from the discussion. It does not represent a consensus document, since no effort was made at the Workshop to arrive at a single consensus view. Rather, the report reviews the major themes discussed and where there was significant disagreement, we have tried to present both sides of the argument.

Keywords: biofuels, sustainable development, environmental policy, sustainability

JEL subject codes: Q01, Q56, Q4