Global assessments and guidelines for sustainable liquid biofuel production in developing countries

The aim of the project was to investigate the sustainability of liquid bio-energy sources for stationary applications and in the transport sector in developing countries. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) would then be able to use the results of the study to identify clear policies and priorities for future work. Another aim was to provide assistance for countries which are keen to get involved in this sector.

UN agencies and scientific institutes worked closely to study more than 70 biofuels as regards their greenhouse gas emissions, energy requirements, social aspects, general environmental effects, economy, vehicle compatibility, and the effects of upscaling. The life cycles include both conventional biofuels as well as second-generation fuels from different raw materials. The results were used to create a “Biofuel Screening Toolkit” which adopts a traffic light system to provide a quick overview of the aspects of sustainability of biofuels.

An Excel-based calculation tool (GEF Biofuel greenhouse gas calculator) was also created. This contains the greenhouse gas balances of over 70 biofuel life cycles in developing countries, and provides a transparent way to understand the calculation method. In addition, the input data can be modified so that the calculations can be adapted to the specific conditions of a country or a cultivation area.


January 2010 – March 2013


United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)


Utrecht University



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