Generation Nachhaltigkeit

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Generation Nachhaltigkeit | Konferenz 2010 | Programm | Abstracts | Bioethanol in Ecuador – on the way to a sustainable development path?

Bioethanol in Ecuador – on the way to a sustainable development path?

Samstag, 19.06.
10.45 - 12.00
Sektion: Regional/ Global
Block: Nachhaltigkeit und Biokraftstoffe

Ralf Bilke, Universität Bayreuth


In the context of sustainable development, the supply of sustainably generated energy plays a crucial role. Up to now, the Achilles' heel has been the transport sector. In this sector sustainable means that can satisfy our ever increasing demand on fuels are very difficult to find. Biofuels are a promising opportunity, but their production can also imply various negative socioeconomic and environmental impacts.

The issue of the impacts of biofuel-production is broadly discussed in the scientific community as well as in society. Up to now, not much emphasis has been laid on the interactions between informal and formal institutions that are the basis for all acting of humans with its consequences on the natural and social environment. As the example of Germany shows, the construction of the societal discourse has a crucial influence on the formal institutions. Topics like conflicts of biofuel and food or negative environmental impacts of the biofuel production have been very dominant in the public discussion on biofuels in recent years. Hence, the German government cut subsidies to biofuels and reduced the goals for the biofuel blend.

As theories of the institutional economist Douglas North (Nobel Prize in Economic Science 1993) suggest, correspondence of formal and informal institutions are a precondition for a stable development path. It is assumed that informal and formal institutions are formed by actors. Actors that have with different perceptions of the situation and strategies, as well as power in order to realize their interests.

With this theoretical framework, the development of the bioethanol sector in Ecuador will be analysed. After having run a pilot project in Guayaquil, Ecuador now is on the crossroad of further fostering their efforts in the production of bioethanol or not. The examples of Brazil or Germany show that a biofuel industry needs a well-developed institutional framework in order to flourish. It is assumed that in order to reach this, Ecuador has to strengthen its formal institutions, such as laws.

After this, the status quo of the informal and formal institutions will become clear. Correspondence or differences between them will determine the space for further efforts to promote a sustainable bioethanol production. This will set the framework for the broadly discussed social and environmental impacts. This thesis will reveal the importance of informal institutions and their correspondence with formal institutions in the context of sustainable renewable energies. This is a topic that, up to now, has not really been considered discussing issues in the energy sector, but which is the fundament of any development in this sector.