Wednesday

14th Nov 2018

Opinion

Sweden and Finland can be world-leading bioeconomies

  • A forest in Finland. Growing forest captures large volumes of carbon dioxide each year. (Photo: Aleksi Gron)

The forests of Sweden and Finland represent more than 30 percent of the EU's woodland.

Sweden and Finland will pioneer the bioeconomy, leading the way and inspiring countries in the EU and around the globe.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Since taking office, our governments have taken several initiatives to develop our respective countries as leaders within the bioeconomy, including within the framework of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region.

These initiatives aim to strengthen the long-term policy ground rules that will steer us away from dependence on fossil fuels and help advance successful industries that can create sustainable jobs. In concrete terms, this involves the following:

Increasing the use of wood can help us significantly reduce the climate impact of the construction process. The production of wooden buildings requires less energy and generates fewer carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions over the course of their life cycle than many other buildings.

A large part of Sweden’s and Finland’s CO2 emissions come from vehicle fleets. It is therefore essential to accelerate the transition towards a fossil-free transport sector. Advanced biofuels have an important role to play in decarbonising the transport sector together with other solutions.

A fossil-free vehicle fleet is a realistic and achievable goal, according to the major 2013 Swedish inquiry Freedom from Fossil Fuels on the Road. Paving the way for long-term policy ground rules will enable us to work for tax regulations that are conducive to the necessary capital-intensive investments.

Sustainable forestry

Industry is the foundation for jobs and economic growth. Green industries will secure both long-term competitiveness and new jobs. This demands long-term and forward-looking industrial and energy policies, geared towards market-based solutions and a commitment to substitution of fossil fuels and products. Policies should promote, not stifle, the use of forest biomass. In the long-term this is both an effective and sustainable climate change mitigation strategy.

Increasing the pace of development for new biobased products has great potential. Many new products have already been created to replace fossil-based products. Some are in the initial phases, while others are ready to be scaled up. For example, bio-based plastics would provide solutions to environmental challenges.

We need to further strengthen the support to technologically mature initiatives to take the steps needed for scaling up and to reach commercialisation.

With the sustainable forestry practices applied today in Sweden and Finland, growing forest captures large volumes of carbon dioxide each year.

Forestry also provides a great deal of employment in rural areas.

In order to create even more jobs and increase the benefits of forests in climate efforts, our governments will stimulate active, sustainable and profitable forestry practices and increased growth in the forest-related sectors through various initiatives.

Combating climate change

In Sweden, the government, supported by a broad range of organisations, is pursuing efforts to realise the full potential of forest in a growing bioeconomy through the development of a national forest programme. Five innovation partnership programmes are launched this year to meet important challenges, among them the climate and environment. Partnership between public actors, business and the academy creates new, innovative solutions that will combine to a circular and bio-based economy.

In 2015, the Finnish government launched a national forest strategy, which continues the long tradition of sustainable care and use of forests that will generate increased well-being. The aim of the Finnish Bioeconomy Strategy launched in May 2014 is to create competitive and sustainable bioeconomy solutions for global problems.

Our countries are endowed with excellent conditions to become world-leading bioeconomies.

Long-term policy ground rules will strengthen our competitiveness and create more jobs, while combating climate change in the long run. We are ready to share our expertise and to work with the EU and the member states to build a strong European bioeconomy.

The evolution of sustainable bioeconomy benefits whole Europe.

Sven-Erik Bucht is Sweden’s minister for rural affairs and Olli Rehn is Finland’s minister for economic affairs

Sustainable energy must be citizen owned

Europe cannot afford to take the wind out of its energy transition. People and communities must be guaranteed the right to take energy production and energy savings into their own hands.

2016: The year of sustainable development?

The European Commission's work programme for 2016 shows glimmers of hope that the environment is no longer the Commission blindspot that it was a year ago.

Stakeholder

Leading the transition towards a post-petroleum society

Europe's bio-economy is rapidly growing and the Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking is helping by bringing together stakeholders across a diverse range of industrial sectors to foster a culture of collaboration across EU players, to de-risk investments, and mitigate market obstacles.

News in Brief

  1. Draft Brexit deal on London cabinet agenda on Wednesday
  2. EU proposes no visa for UK citizens after Brexit
  3. EU parliament 'deeply concerned' on Romania judiciary
  4. Macedonia's ex-PM flees to Hungary, seeks asylum
  5. Cyprus opens first new border crossings in eight years
  6. Putin's Austrian dance partner cancels Moscow visit
  7. Political deadlock over Sweden Democrat influence
  8. Court: Catalan referendum organisers must repay costs

Why 'Spitzenkandidat' is probably here to stay

The power of the parliament to 'appoint' the president of the EU Commission is new, highly-contested - and not universally understood. In fact, even some of the lead candidates to replace Jean-Claude Juncker are against it.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Merkel calls for 'real, true' EU army
  2. Italy defiant on budget on eve of EU deadline
  3. EU action on Hungary and Poland drowns in procedure
  4. EU unable to fully trace €1bn spent on refugees in Turkey
  5. Romanian leaders trade jibes over upcoming EU presidency
  6. EU warns Romania not to abuse GDPR against press
  7. EU 'Magnitsky Act' must bear its proper name
  8. Fear of nationalist surge marks European memorials

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  9. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  10. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us