Actions for a sustainable bioeconomy in the north

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Þóra Valsdóttir

Project Manager

Panoramic Bioeconomy Panel (e. West Nordic Bioeconomy Panel) has set out five strategic priority objectives and proposed related key actions with the aim of promoting innovation and sustainable value creation within the long-term northern bioeconomy.

These key actions are considered to be sensible and realistic, the next step is to make them a reality. All stakeholders are therefore encouraged to put their ambition into action, including politicians, government agencies and companies. By doing so, the communities in the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Iceland will contribute to achieving the United Nations' goals of sustainable development. 

In 2015, the Panel on the Bioeconomy in the North was established with the aim of proposing and disseminating a realistic policy for the maintenance and strengthening of the countries' bioeconomy in the north. The work has been funded by the North Atlantic Partnership (NORA).

The bioeconomy is a business activity that revolves around products and services based on life resources. It involves the utilization of life resources and increased value added of primary production from life resources, products and the use of side streams from the value chains of life resources.

Marine life resources play a key role in the northern bioeconomy; Faroe Islands, Greenland and Iceland. Here the bioeconomy differs from the bioeconomy of many other countries; The countries in the north are largely dependent on biomass transport, which is processed to a limited extent, for example frozen seafood. The potential for value added increases with more processing and proximity to the market. With more processing, it is also possible to utilize sidestreams, increase utilization and create jobs. That is why innovation that increases the processing and production of more valuable products is especially important in the North. At the same time, high labor costs, stray farms and demographic changes are affecting the region's innovative capacity.

The Nordic countries can contribute to greater sustainability in food processing and utilization, but this requires investment in infrastructure related to food security, which is a prerequisite for food trade. The import of food, feed and fertilizer to the area indicates an opportunity for increased self-sufficiency, especially by taking advantage of by-products in all areas.

The strategic priorities and main actions proposed here to, are steps in that direction.

The West Nordic Bioeconomy Panel report can be found here.