ESSZert - Developing food and nutrition security criteria for biomass standards and certifications


Certification, standards, food and nutrition security, biomass; right to adequate food


International biomass demand and trade is growing as governments start shifting from petroleum-based to bio-based economies. While bioeconomy strategies prioritise in principle food security over other biomass uses such as bioenergy, questions arise around the practical implementation. The increased use of biomass for non-food purposes and hence the rising competition with food requires regulations that guarantee food security and the realization of the Right to adequate Food. Environmental and social standards are currently developed to ensure that biomass is sustainably produced and a large body of scientific literature exists, yet food security aspects are hardly addressed. Even those standards which include food security indicators do not assess food and nutrition security in the field, usually due to measurement difficulties since practical indicators, verifiers and thresholds lack.

The aim of ESSZert is to fill this gap by identifying suitable criteria, operational indicators and verifiers to measure local food security impacts of biomass production which can be applied to all types of biomass independent of its later use (e.g. food, feed, fibre, energy) and farm sizes. In addition, they must be relevant at global and national level, across different sectors and standards.

The food and nutrition security criteria and indicators developed by the project will provide guidance for regional and national standard setting as well as for private certification systems.


The research is based on a comprehensive literature review, the development of a conceptual framework and the review of existing standards and certifications. This is complemented by stakeholder workshops and expert interviews with certification bodies, standard initiatives, NGOs, ministries and enterprises. The research framework is based on the human right to adequate food, the Voluntary Guidelines of the Right to Food and the four dimensions of food and nutrition security (Availability, Access, Utilization and Stability).

The research is conducted in close cooperation with the “Welthungerhilfe” and in consultation with relevant stakeholders.

Main Cooperation Partners

<link http: home.html _blank external-link-new-window external link in new>Welthungerhilfe (Dr. Rafaël Schneider)

Main Funding Partners

German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL)

Further information

Welthungerhilfe and ZEF organize an Expert Panel Discussion on the “<link http: en programme expert-panel-discussions _blank external-link-new-window external link in new>Primacy of food security in Bio-economies – an illusory precondition?” at the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture, 16 January 2015, Berlin

Duration of the Project

November 2014 - July 2015


  • <link http: external-link-new-window external link in new>Dr. Tina Beuchelt
  • <link http: external-link-new-window external link in new>Anna Mohr
  • <link http: external-link-new-window external link in new>Dr. Detlef Virchow


Tina Beuchelt

Dr. Tina Beuchelt