The BETTER metaprogramme

The Bioeconomy for Urban Areas metaprogramme

BETTER, a unifying metaprogramme for the future of cities

The focus of the Bioeconomy for Urban Areas (BETTER) metaprogram is the bioeconomic transformation of cities, i.e. the changes (socio-economic, organisational, structural and technological) that will lead cities to better use and recycle their waste, minerals and organic residual products, and to reduce their direct and indirect consumption of fossil fuel. The goals are threefold: to achieve zero net CO2 emissions by 2050; to contribute to sustainable development goals; and to better withstand climate change and other crises.



The scientific questions we need to answer are:
•    How can rolling out the bioeconomy and accelerating circularity within and between cities and the countryside help make cities more sustainable?
•    What are the preconditions for these transitions and how can they be achieved?
Tackling them implies: 
•    Improving the circularity of flows in urban zones but also crossing city-countryside flows with the aim of recycling products, waste, nutrients and water resources, to curb waste and keep pollution in check; 
•    Studying the potential of expanding the production, transformation and recycling of bio-based products adapted to urban and peri-urban areas, the goal being to make cities less dependent on products made from petroleum and other fossil resources and to mitigate their net greenhouse gas emissions while simultaneously improving cities’ resilience and capacity to adapt to global changes;
•    Obtaining the necessary tools to evaluate, model and support bio-economic transitions in urban zones and their areas of influence.

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Divisions concerned at INRAE

The metaprogramme potentially represents about 320 INRAE researchers, 120 of which are mainly from the following divisions:

  • ACT : Action and Transitions,
  • AGROECOSYSTEM : Agroecosystems,
  • AQUA : Aquatic ecosystems, water resources and risks,
  • ECOSOCIO : Economics and Social Sciences,
  • MATHNUM : Mathematics and Digital Technologies,
  • TRANSFORM : Food, bioproducts and waste,

The following divisions are also involved:

  • BAP : Plant biology and breeding, on plant species adapted to urban constraints,
  • MICA : Microbiology and the Food Chain, on microbial transformation processes and keeping biotic contaminants in check,
  • PHASE : Animal physiology and livestock systems, on the role of animals in looping cycles, particularly in urban and peri-urban areas,
  • SA : Animal Health, on animal health and risks related to contact with humans

The bioeconomy at INRAE

In 2020, INRAE finalised an interdisciplinary foresight report on the bioeconomy.
The bioeconomy is defined as the development of a circular and sustainable economy based on the production, transformation and recycling of renewable biological resources. It allows in particular the substitution of fossil fuels with renewable sources of energy, and thus contributes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions all the while preserving natural resources and biodiversity and enhancing ecosystem services. 
To date, research has not taken a comprehensive approach to the bioeconomy. Although this is not INRAE’s usual field of study, the Institute has the tools and skills to address this issue and study the silvo-agricultural and environmental questions about the zones of influence of cities, the bio-economic and food dimension of urban territories, and their links with surrounding territories.

See also

Modification date : 06 November 2023 | Publication date : 22 July 2021 | Redactor : PSM