World BioEconomy Forum

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The Bioeconomy celebrates nature

The 2nd World BioEconomy Forum at Ruka, Finland
September 11-13, 2019


Experts from the leading edge of bioeconomy gather together in the outstanding nature of northeast Finland for roundtable discussions at the second ever World BioEconomy Forum in September 2019!

Speaker Insights

We asked some of our panelists about their views on forest bioeconomy and how it can help fight the climate change - See how they responded below:
Aida Greenbury has more than 20 years of experience in sustainability and forestry management and for 13 years has worked as Managing Director / Chief Sustainability Officer at Asia Pulp & Paper Group. She has led the global company’s efforts to shift to a new, responsible business model based on zero-deforestation. Aida has been a prominent contributor and thought-leader to national and global debates about sustainability, landscape approach, forestry management, community engagement, responsible business, climate finance, trade and the future direction of Indonesia’s economy as it seeks to move up the value chain and reduce its dependency on natural resources.

Can you tell us, in your opinion, where the Forest Bioeconomy fits currently in relation to climate change?

I grew up as a forester. Since I was a child, I have witnessed the growing role of forests, predominantly in tropical regions such as Indonesia. I saw how forests created a picture-perfect heaven with crystal clear springs running through deep green jungles adorned with rainbow-coloured animals. But I have also witnessed the exploitative utilisation of forests as raw material for the creation of easy income for large companies, where they have been cut down and replaced by fast growing species with a disregard for the need for conservation. I have witnessed the domino effect it has created in the development of commercialized communities, defeating the locals’ traditional needs. I have witnessed how the extraction of trees has led to unimaginable consequences, such as the increasingly high temperatures, peat subsidence, plummeting biodiversity, fires, flooding, and disease outbreaks that can be seen throughout the world. This is not right. Transformative change is needed to move us away from the attitude of “it’s Business as Usual”. Forests are the core of nature-based solutions to start this transformative change and are one of the key factors in dealing with fossil-based pollution. I am not only talking about the forests’ ability to become carbon sinks and storage; forest carbon will not exist without us ensuring the conservation and the biodiversity of forests. Forests, carbon, economy and climate change cannot be treated in silo. To address climate change, we need to fix the way we look at and manage forest bioeconomy. 

What can be done to ensure the Forest Bioeconomy is a central ingredient in the fight against climate change? 

By accepting the fact that forests are not just sources of wood material and income, and by accepting the fact that yes, forests are a source of renewable materials, but that doesn’t mean that we can treat them with abandon. As IUCN stated, forests are a stabilising force for the climate: they regulate ecosystems, protect biodiversity, play an integral part in the carbon cycle, support livelihoods, and supply goods and services that can drive sustainable growth. To maximise the climate benefits of forests, we must keep more forest landscapes intact, manage them more sustainably, and restore more of the landscapes that we have lost. In short, we need to be more intelligent in our utilisation of forests. We need to drive better innovation, technology and put serious investment to increase production without worsening the destabilising effects, we need to explore more value-added products that we can harvest from forests to replace unsustainable material. We need to avoid waste. We should avoid burning forest products. We need to manage all of this in a way which would further enhance biodiversity and other conservation values.  

How will the event in Ruka help to achieve those aims?

When I joined the first Bioeconomy Forum in Ruka last year, I was very impressed with the participation of the enthusiastic experts, scientists, and industry players. There are global commitments to support bioeconomy, such as the UN SDG, the Paris Agreement, NYDF, Bonn Challenge, and others. But these will not go anywhere without the leadership of private sectors, the academic community, and civil society. For the next Bioeconomy Forum in September 2019, I was very pleased to learn that our Forum will also be attended by Greenpeace, as a key stakeholder in bioeconomy and climate change issues. A sustainable bioeconomy cannot be achieved without input from civil society and local communities. Lastly, we also need to remember that forest bioeconomy is not yet mainstream in some developing countries, especially in the tropics. We all know how important our tropical forests are. We need to be careful in setting examples and we need to work together more closely to establish a truly global sustainable bioeconomy. It is key that the promotion and expansion of forest bioeconomy does not drive deforestation and peatland degradation in the name of economic development.

Grant Rosoman is the Global forests solutions Senior Advisor for Greenpeace International with a focus on the showcasing and scaling-up of solutions to forest destruction and degradation globally. Co-founder of the multi-stakeholder High Carbon Stock Approach (HCSA) and has been central to the development of the HCSA methodology since 2011 that puts corporate and government ‘No Deforestation’ commitments into practice on the ground. He has worked for Greenpeace for 25 years in a number of roles internationally as well as in New Zealand, the Pacific, and Indonesia.
Can you tell us, in your opinion, where the Forest Bioeconomy fits currently in relation to climate change?
The climate change crisis is one the planetary boundaries ( for which we have breached the 'safe operating space' of. Climate change, along with the biodiversity and land use planetary boundaries that have also been breached, have forests at the heart of them, both as a contribution to the crisis we are in, and as a solution. Forest are the major part of Nature-Based Solutions that can provide more that 30% of the GHG emissions reductions we need. Conserving the natural forests we have, management of forests that increases the storage of carbon, and restoration of forests are key components of a bioeconomy that is a solution to the climate crisis.

What can be done to ensure the Forest Bioeconomy is a central ingredient in the fight against climate change?
Forest Bioeconomy needs to ensure it is front and centre - communicated, promoted and implemented widely - as a solution to the climate crisis and keeping global warming below the targeted 1.5 degrees. This means the scope of what is forest bioeconomy must only include practices, production and technology that are contributing to bringing the climate change boundary to within the 'safe operating space', along with other the other boundaries of land use change and biodiversity. We need a forest bioeconomy for a cooler planet, including forest conservation, restoration and regenerative practices rather than deforestation, degradation and forest conversion, innovative and efficient utilisation of forest biomaterials in particular what is often considered 'waste', and a circular bioeconomy that doesn't drive increasing consumption but rather reduces, reuses, repairs, replaces, and recycles. The benefits of forests as habitat for biodiversity should also be emphasised including for insect populations, as a critical mitigation to the collapse of biodiversity from climate change and agriculture.
How will the event in Ruka help to achieve those aims?
The Ruka World Bioeconomy conference will bring a diverse group of forest bioeconomy experts together to discuss and debate the role of forests and forestry in the fight against climate change, and make recommendations on how to maximise the impact of forest bioeconomy for the crisis we are facing. I will be looking for clarifications on what a forest bioeconomy that protects the climate is, and tangible collaborative actions that can be taken in the global North and South, boreal, temperate and tropical, and by all stakeholders from biotechnologists through to local communities.

Marcello Brito - With more than 25 years of experience in the oils and fats industry, Mr. Brito currently serves as President of the Brazilian Agribusiness Association (ABAG), Board Member of the Brazilian Palm Oil Association (ABRAPALMA), member of the executive board of the Brazilian Organic and Sustainable Association (Organis) and as the CEO of Agropalma group, the leading palm oil producer in Latin America. 
Can you tell us, in your opinion, where Forest Bioeconomy fits currently in relation to climate change?
Forest Bioeconomy is part of what we so called Sustainable Bioeconomy. Sustainable Bioeconomy is a highly representative part of the GDP of a country composed by Bio based Products, Eco Systems, Bio chemicals, Aquaculture and Circular Economy ( the other part of the GDP is non circular economy and Fossil origin  driven economy). Country by Country, we will find different percentage of the Sustainable Bioeconomy elements and unsustainable parts. To make it more didactic, in the Emirates you will find much more unsustainable parts of GDP, than in Costa Rica. Specifically the Forest is part of three ingredients of the sustainable Bioeconomy. The reforestation is part of the Bio based Products, including pulp and paper and their added value products, wood products for industrial purpose, energy,  and wood for consumer products. Trees are also ingredients for food and feed coming from their fruits and other elements. The second part is all the preservation areas of native forestry this belongs to the chapter Eco-Systems. Countries like Brazil, Costa Rica and others as high yield of their territory under preservation aspects; this represents a part of the GDP, even if it may not be productive it is an investment or costs to take under consideration of the GDP, involving people, organization, service, system and technology to preserve. The last part are the Bio Chemicals coming from forestry for ingredients of cosmetics, biochemical substances, food, feed and biofuel. The circular economy has elements coming also from the trees if you consider the “stocks” of wood in products completely recyclable. A tree that growths produce more Oxygen than Carbon Dioxide, the tree uses the exceeding carbon coming from the air, to format their roots, leaves and woods. The photosynthesis is an endothermically process, that absorbers heat from the environment and cooling the atmosphere. So planting trees is not only a production of wood or fruits but has the advantage to reduce the global temperature and absorbers the Carbon from the (fossil and non-fossil) emission. The native forest on the other hand, is an adult tree that is in equilibrium through the production of Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide, but it is a huge refrigerator through the continuous photosynthesis and building upper rivers (clouds) through their condensation.
As Bioeconomy is part of the solution to grow from the unsustainable economy to sustainable economy, Forest Bioeconomy is part of the solution and not part of the problem.
What can be done to ensure the Forest Bioeconomy is a central ingredient in the fight against climate change?
Bioeconomics has multiple opportunities to conserve, promote and protect its forests and to use in a sensitive way the products for industrial or consumer goods. The side effect have tremendously benefit. The education to promote forestry, agriculture and bioproducts in a circular content makes the economy through technology R&D and innovative procedures very effective. Not only preservation but also enhancing the use of wood, sustainable paper, and bioproducts in an intelligent way, makes our planet safer. Today we can control our reforestation and the preservation through satellite and have a trustworthy tracking of the land use and sustainable procedures.  We are in the beginning of knowing our genetical potential of the Biological assets in our forests. This knowledge for health, combat of diseases, or for new principles can make a huge difference for the human development. Certainly, the respect of the native properties and the social environment needs to keep in highly regarded form the ethics and purposes of these policies. The access the consumers showing these advantages with the corresponding ethics, shouldn’t be restricted through import barriers or other forms of market protectionism, but enhanced ensuring how useful and necessary it is to be more global in thinking about one single and open planet. The temperature, the Oxygen or the Carbon Dioxide that we need to live has no barriers, so our destiny is the same.
How will the event in Ruka help to achieve those aims? 
Reporting the results of the debates in a free, transparent and positive way. Supporting the positions of some who differ from the majority and focusing on the essential and important differences in developing strategies in countries with so many different realities. The current natural tendency to impose an agenda from the developed countries of the northern hemisphere on developing countries in the Southern Hemisphere, many of them in extreme poverty, has not contributed to the sustainable development of these countries. On the contrary, we see a perpetuation of poverty. This has strengthened an incentive for disastrous populist policies, encouraged unwelcome disruptions, and a repulsed for "external" actions by agencies, NGOs, and other international entities. Antagonism has often been the negative key in the transformative actions of the bioeconomy and its subsectors in developing countries. I hope that the results of this forum sparks the beginning of a new understanding, transformation and in the dissemination of the advantages of a new (bio) economic development model in the world.

Lauri Hetemäki is the Assistant Director at the European Forest Institute (EFI); and Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, University of Helsinki.  He has a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Helsinki.
Hetemäki is responsible for managing EFI’s science-policy work. He has extensive experience in science-policy support work, e.g. in European Parliament, European Commission and national Governments and Parliaments, as well as coordinating pan-European science-policy studies. He is the author of 200 scientific and popular publications.
Can you tell us, in your opinion, where the Forest Bioeconomy fits currently in relation to climate change?
Forest bioeconomy is essential part of the Climate Smart Forestry (CSF) approach. CSF builds upon three main objectives: first, substitute fossil-based raw materials, energy and products; second, store carbon in forests and wood products; and third, promote forest growth and make forests more resilient for changing climate. By harvesting forests and regenerating them with seedlings and seeds that are better adapted to a changing climate, forest resilience is improved and the climate change mitigation capacity of forests is maintained for the future. By selling wood, forest owners obtain incomes to fund these measures. The wood that forest owners sell is used for wood-based products and energy. These help to replace fossil-based raw materials, energy and products. For climate change mitigation, reducing the consumption of fossil-based products and services as soon as possible is a key target.  
What can be done to ensure the Forest Bioeconomy is a central ingredient in the fight against climate change?
First, the important task ahead is to connect the circular economy and bioeconomy in order to ensure they mutually reinforce each other and have together enough scale to replace our current linear fossil economy. However, a concept like circular bioeconomy, and the strategy that implements it, needs an evidence-based narrative explaining why it is important. Show how it helps to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation and achieve the Paris Agreement and SDGs objectives. Circular bioeconomy is not an end itself, but a tool to achieve these globally agreed targets. This narrative should be especially appealing to highly urbanised areas, where the bulk of citizens (voters) live. This narrative is necessary to gain long-term societal engagement to support circular bioeconomy policies and actions.
How will the event in Ruka help to achieve those aims?
Ruka event is important in helping to discuss and show how forest bioeconomy is changing and helping to be part of the solution to pressing sustainability challenges.  Often the role of forests and the forest sector is seen in a very traditional way – it is about timber, pulp and paper and bioenergy. This century has shown that the sector is going through major development and diversification, which extends its opportunities and importance. For example, the sector is increasingly entering areas such as textiles, construction, bioplastics, chemicals, and intelligent packaging. Also, in many regions, such as in Ruka, the services related to forests, like  e.g. in recreation and tourism, are also developing from niche to significant businesses. They are also part of the forest bioeconomy.  The event helps to illustrate the diverse and increasing opportunities to contribute to circular bioeconomy development, and therefore, to the more sustainable future

See the program of the event here
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