If Finland – or indeed anywhere – is searching for model examples of green growth strategy, to which countries should they be looking?
Sustainable well-being is based on the smart and responsible use of renewable resources.
The bioeconomy is reforming our social system. It reduces our dependence on fossil fuels and is the key to combating climate change and the depletion of natural resources.
The bioeconomy will be both global and local. Food and energy will be produced locally, close to raw materials and customers, while specialist products will be traded in the global market
The bioeconomy is here to stay, but what exactly does ‘bioeconomy’ mean?
Bioeconomy refers to all the kinds of production which use natural material and which is then renewed as a result of assimilation. The bioeconomy also includes the use of biological processes, such as the use of enzymes or bacteria, in production.
The bioeconomy can also be seen as a strategy used by society to fight against urgent problems, such as climate change, the increasingly fierce competition for natural resources and rural and regional development.
The bioeconomy can even be seen as constituting a new economic and social order challenging the majority of our current practices and structures.
For the bioeconomy to develop into a national strength, those working in the sector need a new way of thinking and a mutual understanding of the future vision. Future winning concepts will spring from open-minded collaboration and bold experiments.
The bioeconomy is a promising sector with considerable future potential. As a business sector, the bioeconomy is often seen as focusing solely on biotechnology or the production and refinement of biomass. Wood construction or turning the effects of the natural environment on well-being into product concepts are also part of bioeconomic business activities.
The business opportunities offered by a material cycle based on biomass are also yet to be explored, although in the international online survey carried out by Sitra in the summer of 2011, respondents considered a sustainable water and nutrient cycle to be the central element of the bioeconomy.
Seizing the opportunities offered by a sustainable material cycle requires changes to society as a whole. It must be understood that the future bioeconomy is 'glocal', that is, both global and local.
In a glocal bioeconomy, part of the production – such as food and energy – will be carried out locally, close to the raw materials and customers. This will minimise the need for transportation and promote efficient recycling of products. Special products and services will continue to be traded in the global market. Local production will interconnect with the global system through smart energy networks or similar systems.
This vision of the future bioeconomy is based on a report published by Sitra in September 2011. Entitled “Distributed Bio-Based Economy – Driving Sustainable Growth”, the report describes the structures of bioeconomy in society in 2050. The report was drafted by Gaia Consulting Ltd.
In the vision, global and centralised/local and decentralised are dimensions which complement each other. The challenge for decision-makers will be to find the optimum combination of global and local activities.
Through its activities, Sitra aims to increase understanding and debate on the development trends of biosociety and the structures which make it possible, and to boost local biobusiness based on a sustainable material cycle.