Governance principles and basic guidelines for procedures

Although the IBF is conceived as an informal platform, and in order to avoid a proliferation of uncoordinated activities, it is useful to define some governance principles and basic guidelines for procedures. The governance structure puts the plenary at the heart of all decision making, with the chair and secretariat, responsible for all administrative and coordination activities. It also sets basic guidelines and quality standards for any working groups to be set up.

Members of the IBF are organisations that are legally entitled to mobilize resources from national or international research funds, either public or private, and are engaged in activities that concern the bioeconomy (e.g. ministries for science and research, academy of sciences, scientific organisations and funding agencies, research foundations).

Members commit to actively contribute to IBF initiatives (with their work force, financial resources, in-kind contributions and/or existing research and innovation infrastructures, etc.), and to contribute to the work of the IBF secretariat with their work force.

A plenary meeting is organised at least once a year. For the first plenary meeting the representatives of all the countries should be invited in order to raise awareness of the initiative and involve a maximum number of countries.

Members perform the following actions during the plenary meeting:

  1. Consider and adopt measures to establish, review, and update the policies and procedures of the IBF, as well as to evaluate its work and the accomplishment of its objectives, taking into account the current developments in international bioeconomy;
  2. Review periodically and approve the scientific policy and agenda of the working groups;
  3. Provide recommendations regarding the areas in which investment should be focussed;
  4. Evaluate International Bioeconomy Forum activities and recommend improvements;
  5. Elect the co-chairs of the International Bioeconomy Forum
  6. Decide on the venue for the next annual plenary meeting, which shall be rotated among Members after an initial 3 years period (until then it would be held in Brussels);
  7. Establish ad hoc working groups as necessary;
  8. Perform other functions as necessary to achieve the International Bioeconomy Forum objectives.

To ensure the quality of discussions and the involvement of the IBF members, the presence of at least 2/3 of the members is constitute the quorum necessary for an IBF plenary meeting to make joint decisions.

Observers are welcome at the plenary meetings, but do not count toward the quorum and they do not have right to take part of the decision making.

Plenary meetings of the IBF

Observers are organizations that are active in the IBF remits, such as research organisations, international organisations (OECD, FAO, UNIDO, etc), EU Member States coordination bodies (relevant JPIs and ERANETs), higher or secondary education institutes, representatives of regions and cities and research foundations.

They are invited by the co-chairs, in agreement with the members of the Forum. This provide the opportunity to create policy coherence at international level and to work on horizontal issues such as the developments of common indicators for the bioeconomy.

Currently, Australia, South Korea and international organisations (FAO, SCAR, BIOEAST and IICA) are observer.

The IBF Members elect 2 co-Chairs for two-year terms:

One of the Co-Chairs is expected to represent a Member from a country not belonging to the EU. As an exception to this rule, for the first three years of life of the Forum, one of the co-Chair would be a high level official of the European Commission.

To ensure continuity, rotation of the IBF co-Chairs will be spaced by one year. A new elected Co-Chair will take office in January following his/her election.

The role and responsibility of the co-chairs is:

• To prepare the agenda of the plenary meeting of the IBF in consultation with the members and assisted by the Secretariat, and to moderate and lead through the meetings' discussion from a neutral position with the objective to integrate different perspectives.

• To act as spokespersons of the IBF and to formally represent the Forum to external bodies, based on the positions agreed with the Members.

• To guarantee the continuous communication and information flows within the IBF, assisted by the Secretariat.

Currently, the European Commission and South Africa are the co-chairs.

The structure of IBF is based on ad-hoc working groups focussing on specific subjects related to the bioeconomy.

The constitution of a new group can be officially proposed during a plenary meeting. The added value of tackling the specific challenge at international level have to be clearly explained. The creation of a new working group also requires:

  1. The support of one of the members who would take charge of the lead of the new working group;
  2. The approval of the members present at the plenary by consensus;
  3. The participation in the working group of at least 1/3 of the members.

Additional guidelines to avoid the proliferation of working groups can be to fix a maximum duration of each working group and to limit the number of working groups that could exist at the same time.

The role of leader of a working group comes with the responsibility of coordinating the group's work (including administrative tasks) and that of arranging and hosting any workshop(s). At least one international Workshop per year should be organised by the leader organisation.

Leading organisations ensure also that IBF initiatives are adequately communicated to local science communities to ensure maximum local participation.

Current Working Groups


The Secretariat is the primary administrative element of the IBF.

It insures the links between co-Chairs, Members and the Working Groups and it is implement the decisions taken at the annual plenary meeting.

The Secretariat is geographically distributed (Secretariat members can be located in the offices of any members' organizations) and it composed of at least one person from each Member organisation.