More than 350 bioeconomy experts from all over Europe gather today in Helsinki, Finland, at the European Bioeconomy Scene 2019 conference organised by the Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the European Commission. The aim of the conference is to raise public awareness and promote dialogue on the progress towards a bioeconomy. The meeting in Helsinki is one of the major events to be held under Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the EU.
“We are living in a world of finite resources on which global challenges such as climate change and an increasing world population put additional pressure. The situation forces us to think about the ways in which we produce, consume and discard goods. The bioeconomy has great untapped potential to address several of these challenges,” saidJyrki Katainen, Vice-President of the European Commission, in his opening words.
“I can see that humankind is facing a multifaceted sustainability challenge to which there is no single quick fix,” said Mr Katainen. To tackle this challenge, the Commission has adopted several measures, including the Circular Economy Action Plan and a comprehensive climate and energy package for 2030. In 2018, the Commission presented its updated bioeconomy strategy, outlining a holistic way to promote and increase sustainable use of renewables.
Bioeconomy has a central role in the decarbonisation of economies
The EU’s updated bioeconomy strategy and action plan contain 14 actions that will support a transition to a circular and sustainable bioeconomy operating within planetary boundaries. Research and innovation are at the core of providing the solutions that will allow the member states to drive a just transition towards a circular and sustainable bioeconomy.
The bioeconomy is one of the European Union’s largest and most important sectors encompassing agriculture, forestry, fisheries, food, bioenergy and bio-based industries with an annual turnover of around €2 trillion and employing around 18 million people. The conference in Helsinki brings together academics, researchers, stakeholders, policymakers, business representatives and civil society organisations across the bioeconomy sector to exchange knowledge, coordinate activities and discuss new actions.
Conference’s leading themes are social sustainability and justice
“I am very pleased that together with European Commission Finland has had the opportunity to build a high-level conference around bioeconomy,” saidJari Leppä, Finnish Minister of Agriculture and Forestry. He continued: “We aim at finding special strengths on which the member states can build their own bioeconomy strategies. The conference’s leading themes are social sustainability and justice.”
“In Finland, our strength lies in our extensive natural resources, especially forests that continue to be the cornerstone of our bioeconomy,” said Minister Leppä. Finland published its own national bioeconomy strategy in 2014. Its goal is to create a level playing field for the bioeconomy, promote technological development, strengthen R&I activities and safeguard the accessibility of biomass resources.
“The Finnish bioeconomy policy has been successful,” said Minister Leppä. The bioeconomy sector’s output has outpaced that of the national economy on average, and we have seen big biorefinery investments realised in Finland. A sustainable climate and energy policy is also at the heart of the present government programme, while we continue to develop our bioeconomy.”
The European Bioeconomy Scene 2019 conference was opened on 8 July with a welcome reception organised by the City of Helsinki and hosted by MayorJan Vapaavuori. Tomorrow, on 10 July, excursions will be organised to see how the bioeconomy can work in practice. Excursions will take place within the greater Helsinki area, and in central and eastern Finland.