Biofuels: Sustainable Innovation or Gold Rush? Identifying Responsibilities for Biofuel Innovations

  • Annelies BalkemaEmail author
  • Auke Pols


Based on fieldwork and literature review we have investigated the rise and fall of jatropha cultivation in Tanzania over the last decade, and its negative socio-economic and environmental impacts. Based on the fact that the most vulnerable actors, small farmers, were affected the most, through loss of land and income, we conclude that biofuel innovations have so far been irresponsible. In this chapter we draw lessons for future biofuel innovations through the identification of stakeholder responsibilities. We do so by developing a framework which is based on current discussions on the meaning of ‘sustainability’ and recent ethical work on moral responsibility. In addition, we use the framework to reflect on the jatropha biofuel innovation experiences. Additional fieldwork will be done to gather information on visions and expectations and to discuss responsibilities for sustainable biofuel innovations in Tanzania. Our preliminary conclusion is that stakeholder participation and a clear demarcation of responsibilities are preconditions for sustainable biofuel innovations.


Biofuels Sustainability Moral responsibility Discourse ethics Tanzania 



We want to thank everybody who made this research possible. During the field work this included several students, colleagues, and our interviewees. During writing we benefited from comments by our colleagues. This article was produced as part of the project “Biofuels : Sustainable Innovation or Gold Rush?”, funded by the Responsible Innovation Programme (MVI) of the Netherlands Organisation of Scientific Research (NWO).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Technology, Innovation and Society, School of Innovation SciencesEindhoven University of TechnologyEindhovenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Philosophy and Ethics, School of Innovation SciencesEindhoven University of TechnologyEindhovenThe Netherlands

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