Monday, 06 November 2017 08:20

Five principles for a sustainable bioeconomy

Written by  PA Bioeconomy

The bioeconomy can deliver many of the solutions that will limit global warming and bring about a fair, prosperous and equal world for all. But to succeed, the bioeconomy must be sustainable. The Nordic Council of Ministers is leading initiatives in the Baltic Sea Region, encouraging industries to develop innovative solutions for a greener future. One example of this is the five principles for a sustainable bioeconomy that will be launched at COP23 in Bonn.


Why we need more bioeconomy

The global population is projected to reach nine billion in 2050, which will necessitate a 50% increase in both food and energy production according to the United Nations. The challenge is to meet basic needs while limiting negative impacts on the environment. The bioeconomy encompasses energy, heat, construction, bioplastics, food and textiles and potentially holds the key to many of the challenges we face now and in the future.


"The circular, bio-based economy has great future potential, and is particularly important for regional development."

(Sven-Erik Bucht , Minister for Rural Affairs, Sweden)

Why we need to be careful

Not all bioeconomy activities are sustainable, and they can have both positive and negative effects on the planet’s climate and biodiversity. Most marine resources are already fully utilised – many are over utilised. Many forests are being exploited faster than they can recover. Agricultural land is degrading in many parts of the world. We – the human species – must admit we have a terrible track record when it comes to the management of natural resources.

Why we need shared principles

We need to know where we are, where we are going and how fast to move. A shared understanding of sustainability is essential for ensuring that all of the stakeholders push in the same direction. The adoption in 2015 of both the Paris agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals – the world’s to do list for 2030 – also means that countries, people and companies need to do more than ever before.

The five principles for sustainable bioeconomy

  1. Sustainable resource management – responsible use of our shared resources
  • Develop new technologies to increase output from harvested biomass through resource efficiency
  • Upgrade residues and waste to higher value products and services to optimise the quality and value of biomass
  • Contribute to circular bio-solutions that reuse and recycle materials throughout the value chain.
  1. Food security and health – sufficient and nutritious food for all
  • Support production and innovation in alternative proteins for both feed and food
  • Improve general health and nutrition by developing new, sustainable and healthy food and pharmaceutical products
  • Guarantee food security and safety for all.
  1. Resilient and diverse ecosystems – a liveable planet
  • Support action to cut air pollution and reduce CO2 emissions throughout the value chain and refine renewable alternatives to fossil-based products and processes
  • Enhance biodiversity both on land and below water
  • Restore and sustain soil fertility, protect water quality by lowering usage and use proper purification processes for recycling.

“I think we should eat varied food. I hope that people follow the nutritional guidelines from the authorities.We should have a balanced diet. Grain products, fruit and vegetables, fish and meat. I think we can manage this in a way that both promotes the public health, and ensures the future food production in the Nordic countries"

(Jon Georg Dale, Minister of Agriculture and Food, Norway)

  1. Inclusive economic and social prosperity – sustainable societies
  • Create decent new jobs and retain existing ones, especially in rural and coastal areas
  • Develop and share financially viable and sustainable business models
  • Provide rural and urban areas with environmental, social and economic opportunities and encourage new partnerships – at local, regional, national and global levels.
  1. Sustainable consumption – changing consumer behaviour
  • Provide infrastructure that facilitates the reuse, recycling and upcycling of bio-based products
  • Encourage green procurement in both the public and private sectors
  • Commit to education and awareness of sustainable practices from kindergarten to university.

How should we apply these principles?

The proposed set of guiding principles is one step towards developing common ground and good practices for a sustainable bioeconomy in the Nordic and Baltic countries, with the aim of inspiring other regions to follow a similar path. They should not be seen as a set of commandments or an exhaustive recipe for transforming entire industries, but rather a tool for helping societies, businesses and people to steer in a sustainable direction. The principles contribute to the EU’s macro-regional strategy for the Baltic Sea Region and will also form the foundations for a new Nordic strategy on bioeconomy.

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[The five principles were developed in cooperation to the Danish consultancy company Sustainia and the BSR Bioeconomy Council.]


Read 9320 times Last modified on Wednesday, 08 November 2017 08:27