A cooperation hub of forest bioeconomy

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Regional action towards a circular bioeconomy took the spotlight at this year’s European Week of Regions and Cities. 

EFI’s Bioregions Facility organised an interactive online session on 20 October which explored how three regions are developing and implementing transformative roadmaps towards a circular bioeconomy. 

Following an introduction to the Facility by Inazio Martinez de Arano, Head of EFI's Mediterranean Regional Office, the three founding Bioregions of North Karelia (DE), North-Rhine Westfalia (DE) and the Basque Country (ES) presented their innovative and very differing approaches towards a circular forest bioeconomy in their regions.

Risto Poutiainen described North Karelia's strong tradition of investing in the bioeconomy and described smart specialisation linking the forest bioeconomy with technology and new materials. North Karelia has an established circular forest bioeconomy cluster involving Business, Education and Research & Development and have set an ambitious climate and energy programme for 2030. Stefanie Wieland explained how North-Rhine Westphalia is currently revising their Bioeconomy Strategy and that the regional government intends to intensify the expansion of the wood-based bioeconomy. They are promoting the use of wood for sustainable construction, as part of the solution to global warming, and also looking at new applications for wood in innovative products and processes, creating value from the use of by-products from the paper and sawmill sectors. Leire Barañano described the Basque Country strategy which is harnessing innovation towards a sustainable forest bioeconomy, involving regional clusters, technology centres, companies and industry. Her presentation featured various start-ups in the region offering innovative alternatives to fossil-based products.

Audience discussion follwed, including questions from other regions interested in how they might participate in the intiative. This led on to concluding remarks, which were provided by Roby Biwer of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) who are actively supporting the Facility. Mr Biwar commented that the initiatives presented offered great examples on how to ally economic efficiency with the mitigation of climate change and the respect of biodiversity and called on the European Union to provide tools and financing for territorial cooperation at local and regional scales. He informed the audience that the CoR has been contacted by various regions keen to join Bioregions and expressed his wish that the three pioneering regions will soon be joined by others. 

The European Week of Regions and Cities is an annual event during which cities and regions showcase their capacity to create growth and jobs, implement European Union cohesion policy, and prove the importance of the local and regional level for good European governance.

Watch the Bioregions session in full!