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Four Nordic bioeconomy strongholds

The bioeconomy holds great potential in addressing major challenges such as climate change and producing sufficient nutritious food, materials and energy for a growing population. In the effort to draft a joint Nordic bioeconomy strategy – the first of its kind – the Nordic Bioeconomy Panel has identified four fundamental strongholds of the region’s bioeconomy: replace, upgrade, circulate and collaborate.


Tremendous opportunities in the bioeconomy

The Nordic Bioeconomy Panel was initiated as part of the Icelandic Presidency Programme for the Nordic Co-operation in 2014, of which the bioeconomy was a key focus. The Panel has been assigned the task of drafting a joint Nordic strategy that supports a sustainable transformation towards the bioeconomy and stimulates innovation in the region.

The bioeconomy will be instrumental in order for the world to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

“The bioeconomy comprises those parts of the economy that make responsible use of renewable biological resources from land and water for the mutual benefit of business, society, and nature,” says Hörður G. Kristinsson, Chief Science Innovation Officer at Matís and chair of the Nordic Bioeconomy Panel. “The bioeconomy offers tremendous opportunities to accelerate sustainable growth and development in the Nordic countries and will be instrumental in order for the world to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.”

Cases illustrates Nordic bioeconomy trends 

As part of the preparations for the new strategy, the Nordic Bioeconomy Panel, Nordic Council of Ministers and Danish think tank Sustainia have compiled and analysed information and data on 25 innovative Nordic bioeconomy cases. They have been evaluated on five selected criteria for a sustainable and innovative bioeconomy. The aim has been to detect the most significant trends in utilisation of biological resources in the region, as well as to identify ways to optimise resource efficiency and value creation in the bioeconomy.

“The 25 cases are very diverse and come from different industries,” says Kristinsson. “The analysis of their environmental, economic and societal impact has enabled us to learn what characterises the region’s bioeconomy and identify some of the best Nordic bioeconomy practices. This information will be a pivotal building block of the common Nordic strategy.”

Replace, upgrade, circulate and collaborate

The selected cases illustrate four key themes, each of which the Panel has identified as a stronghold of the Nordic bioeconomy:

  • Replace covers efforts to replace fossil-based and other unsustainable materials with bio-based alternatives.
  • Upgrade is about creating higher value products and services from resources throughout the whole value change.
  • Circulate entails creating a circular bioeconomy that uses waste and side streams as input into production and takes the sustainability and regenerative capacity of the ecosystem into account.
  • Collaborate, describes initiatives where cross-sectoral co-operation is a key factor. Cases in this category include strategic public-private partnerships with participation from industry, authorities and research institutions, as well as communities that have set ambitious goals for a transformation towards a sustainable and circular bioeconomy.
These four pillars display strongholds of the Nordic bioeconomy, but more importantly, they describe a direction for sustainable change

“These four pillars display strongholds of the Nordic bioeconomy, but more importantly, they describe a direction for sustainable change,” says Liv la Cour Belling, Project Officer at the Nordic Council of Ministers.

The case catalogue is supposed to inspire the development of a new joint Nordic strategy on the bioeconomy. The strategy will take the Nordic countries’ different national approaches to the bioeconomy into account and encourage co-operation, knowledge sharing and technology transfer across borders as well as between the various sectors of the bioeconomy.

The Nordic Bioeconomy Strategy will be finalised by the end of 2017, and signed by the Ministers for Nordic Co-operation.

New publication: Nordic Bioeconomy – 25 cases for sustainable change