Renewable Natural Resources Boost the Bioeconomy
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has elaborated its own Roadmap to Bioeconomy 2020 in line with the Finnish Bioeconomy Strategy published as a Government Resolution in May 2014. The Roadmap recognizes the potential of bioeconomy as the engine of sustainable growth. Economic growth, new business activities and more jobs can be achieved by increasing the sustainable use of natural resources. The companies need a favourable operating environment, production and service structures need to be versatile, and know-how and innovations are needed to further enhance the added value of products and services.
The Ministry has set the following strategic goals for the sustainable use of renewable natural resources: (i) agricultural lands, forests, waters, livestock, and fish and game populations are viable and productive, (ii) the competitiveness of livelihoods based on renewable natural resources and the value added they create will be improved, (iii) consumers can trust the sustainability of the food chain, (iv) rural areas are vibrant and they offer favourable environments for entrepreneurship and living, and (v) spatial information will be widely used to promote rural livelihoods.
Finland has an exceptionally large biocapacity per capita, allowing a considerable increase in the utilisation of our renewable natural resources. At present less than 70% of the sustainable maximum yield of forest resources is being used each year. This gives Finland excellent opportunities to increase the use of forest resources and thus to enhance bioeconomy in Finland and in the EU. The Roadmap recognizes forests as an important source of green bioeconomy, with the aim to process domestic forest biomass in mills that are based in Finland.Yellow bioeconomy consists of the utilisation of arable biomasses, organic wastes, and by-product streams that contain nutrients and energy. The aim is to enhance circular economy while also improving protein self-sufficiency in Finland. Yellow bioeconomy makes an important contribution to the creation of new jobs and services in the rural areas.
Blue bioeconomy, based on increasing the production potential of water resources and the aquatic ecosystems, is also seen as a very promising element of the Finnish bioeconomy. Water and fish resources as well as aquaculture can be used for producing food, energy and nutrients and for well-being services, i.e. services relating to health and recreation.
The Roadmap points out three areas where immediate action is needed to enhance sustainable growth: (i) Removing bottlenecks in bioeconomy: statutory obstacles need to be identified and constructive models created to solve these, (ii) Targeting funding to investments and innovation: we need to map out the available sources of funding and start to use them in a targeted way and with a clear focus in mind, (iii) Enhancing marketing communication: Consumers have a crucial role in bioeconomy, which is why consumers awareness needs to be raised. The Finnish economy is very much driven by exports, and especially SMEs often need face-to-face instruction in export promotion.
The overall objective of the Roadmap is to create favourable operating environments for new biorefineries and other enterprises around these which produce high value added products for exports, while ensuring the sustainability of our natural ecosystems. By means of the actions listed above, we wish to make a positive contribution to economic growth in Finland and well-being all round Europe.
Permanent Secretary, Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry