Alongside the economic crisis, the world is simultaneously undergoing a climate crises, energy crisis and a food crisis. All these involve living beyond the resources. The economic crisis started when the granting of credit exceeded the ability to pay; the other crises concern the use of natural resources beyond the environmental capacity. Sustainable economic growth cannot be built on the old model. New solutions are needed.
The recession and recovery also offer opportunities. A new ecologically more sustainable attitude should be adopted in the efforts to recover from the recession. We need disconnections. Material efficiency, energy efficiency and minimising emissions are key concepts in the new sustainable economy.
Finland’s economy is dependent on exports. In order to maintain our competitiveness, we have to constantly consider what is needed in the world. The world needs solutions for the over-consumption of natural resources and the threats from the climate crisis.
Finland, however, is rich in natural resources, has a tradition of their sustainable use and a high level of know-how and technology. By bringing these together in an intelligent way, we can improve the sustainability of our own economy and create new solutions and growth areas for export markets. It will require considerable investment in research in the sector, product development and commercialising innovations.
The natural resources strategy has identified two major areas in which investments should be made. The first is the bioeconomy, where forest resources, for example, are used not only in traditional sectors but also in the chemical industry as new materials and energy. Another area is fundamentally improving the recycling of materials both in industry and throughout society. In a world with a sustainable economy, there cannot be room to waste anything.
The natural resources strategy offers a positive challenge to the government. It is also well suited as the content to the Work for Finland growth initiative of Prime Minister Vanhanen. The strategy and its concrete first steps will act like a map and compass for the foggy years in the near future. It will infuse confidence in a sustainable economy so long as action is taken.
The ball is now in the government’s court. How will it take the strategy forward in Finland and in the EU? Who will take responsibility for the overall process that extends beyond administrative boundaries? Expectations on turning the conflicts between the environment and the economy into strong synergies will fall on the government. Now is not the time to let the opportunities slip by.
Member of Parliament