Insights on status quo and future directions of the bioeconomy development in the Baltic countries
On 25th June 2020, the BalticBiomass4Value project held virtual panel discussion during the International Scientific Conference “Sustainable Bioeconomy Development 2020: From Thinking Globally to Acting Locally” which was organized by the Faculty of Bioeconomy Development of the Vytautas Magnus University Agriculture Academy and the Faculty of Economics and Social Development of the Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies.
During this panel discussion, Chief Adviser of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Lithuania Dalia Miniataitė, Rector of the Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies Irina Pilvere and Adviser of the Research and Development Department of the Ministry of Rural Affairs of the Republic of Estonia Argo Peepson introduced actions for developing sustainable bioeconomy in the Baltic countries. Meanwhile, Researcher of the School of Business, Engineering and Science of the Halmstad University Henrik Barth presented an analysis on business model innovation for biomass development and Project Manager of the 3N Lower Saxony Network for Renewable Resources and Bioeconomy Sascha Hermus introduced an example on how regional networks for the bioeconomy development operate in Germany.
Insights from the discussion
Debaters involved in formation of the bioeconomy development strategies of the Baltic countries agreed that a major challenge is to ensure the inter-institutional cooperation that is necessary, since the bioeconomy covers all areas where biological resources are used, i.e. agriculture, forestry, fisheries, food and pulp and paper production, as well as parts of chemical, biotechnological and energy industries. For instance, Latvia already has a national bioeconomy strategy, but it has been limited to biomass production and traditional biomass processing sectors, such as food production and wood processing industries. In the Western Europe, the bioeconomy development is driven by the advanced bio-based industry that develops biorefineries which use biomass for the integrated production of various bio-based products. It is not being considered how to produce more biomass, but how to use biological resources in a more innovative way. This orientation creates conditions for the development of a higher value-added bioeconomy which is the goal of all three Baltic countries.
Another important factor of success is cooperation at the local level. Experience and on-going activities of the German 3N Lower Saxony Network for Renewable Resources and Bioeconomy were presented. This network brings together local public authorities, biomass producers and processors, potential investors and scientific institutions to develop joint initiatives for local bioeconomy development. Moreover, much attention is paid for educating local communities about the principles of sustainable bioeconomy and its benefits. Interestingly, the analysis on business model innovation for biomass development completed by researches from the Swedish Halmstad University revealed that much focus in scientific literature over the last two decades was placed on cost efficiency of bio-based solutions rather than on innovation. Therefore, it could be said that social acceptance plays a crucial role in sustainable bioeconomy development.