A strategic program for the Nordic bioeconomy is launched June 27. That strategy can serve as a good example in the world – the Nordic countries are able to demonstrate best practices!
The Nordic Council of Ministers convened the Nordic Bioeconomy Panel in 2014 under Icelandic chairmanship and commissioned it to draw up a strategic program for the Nordic bioeconomy. The ministers meeting in Haparanda/Torneå will officially launch the program on June 27, 2018.
The Nordic countries have a rich biocapacity: 30 % of Europe’s forest production and more than 50 % of Europe’s total marine harvest comes from the Nordic region. All Nordic countries also have other bioeconomic strengths. They have competitive bio-based industries, sustainable resource management and resilient and diverse ecosystems which pave the way for inclusive economic development.
Rural regions is the key
Rural regions have a key role in the Nordic bioeconomy as the location of bio-resources like forests, agriculture and fisheries. Bioeconomy can help Nordic countries develop their peripheral areas. A growing bioeconomy calls for a well-educated and skillful workforce, helping maintain the population of rural regions. It is also crucial that primary producers get their fair share of the bioeconomic added value chains.
Global challenges like the rapid population growth and climate change impact the bioeconomy. The shift from a fossil-based to a bio-based economy will reduce the world’s dependence on non-renewable resources. The EU aims to be a carbon neutral society by 2050. The Nordic countries are frontrunners in that endeavor, and can demonstrate best practices for other parts of the world.
The Nordic Council of Ministers collected 25 case studies of sustainable bioeconomic change in 2017. The motto of the paper is “The times they are a-changin’“ by Bob Dylan. The starting point for the case studies was the 17 sustainable development goals in UN’s Agenda 2030. The report presented Nordic best practices under four themes: replace, upgrade, circulate and collaborate. The cases were evaluated on five criteria: (1) sustainable use of natural resources, (2) technological innovation, (3) environmental benefits, (4) social benefits, and (5) business model innovation.
Out of the box thinking is needed to envision a more sustainable and holistic use of agriculture, forestry and fishery resources and industrial symbiosis.
The Nordic Bioeconomy Panel emphasizes that the key to the development of the bioeconomy is improving resource efficiency by unlocking the full potential of biomass. Thus, it is important to recognize bio-based value chains, and focus R&D funding on activities which create value-added products from the Nordic bio-resources.
LIISA SAARENMAA, SNS board