This report aims to inform energy and forestry policymakers in non-OECD counties about biomass energy, which these countries depend on mostly for cooking and heating. It draws on global literature to give an account of the emerging biomass energy boom, the advantages and disadvantages of biomass and how it compares with alternative renewable energy sources. It also provides guidance on developing policies that optimise the positive impact of biomass energy on poverty reduction and the preservation of ecosystem services.

The International Energy Agency predicts that biomass, which currently makes up ten per cent of the world's primary energy supplies, will become increasingly important as a source of energy, rising to 30 per cent by 2050. The report argues that since non-OECD countries are disproportionately dependent on biomass energy (26 per cent), they could capitalise on this trend by acting now to legalise biomass supplies and ensure that it is produced sustainably. This would allow them to create more advanced biomass energy options in the future, such as generating electricity or producing second generation biofuels.