Leading the way to a new European bioeconomy strategy

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Event start date
Berlin, Germany
Leading the way to a new European bioeconomy strategy

The ThinkForest event Leading the way to a new European bioeconomy strategy was held on 10 May 2017 at the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture in Berlin.

Discussions focused on:

  • How can bioeconomy contribute to sustainable and circular economic development?
  • What makes a successful bioeconomy strategy?
  • How can we move from strategy to action?

Göran Persson, ThinkForest President
Knut Øistad, Chair of the Board, European Forest Institute

Circular economy and bioeconomy connection
Janez Potočnik, Co‐Chair of UN International Resource Panel

EU Bioeconomy Strategy updating
Waldemar Kütt, Head of Unit - Bioeconomy Strategy, DG Research and Innovation, European Commission

Insights for updating the EU Bioeconomy Strategy
Marc Palahí, Director, EFI

Forest-based bioeconomy as a part of the German national bioeconomy strategy
Hermann Onko Aeikens, State Secretary, Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Germany

Panel discussion: “Successful Bioeconomy Strategy and Action Needed”
Moderator: Joanna Dupont-Inglis, Chair of the EU Bioeconomy Panel
Mika Aalto, Head of Division - Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland
Felix Creutzig, Chair Sustainability Economics of Human Settlements, Technical University Berlin
Waldemar Kütt, Head of Unit - Strategy, DG Research and Innovation
Cristina Narbona, Council Member, CSN, Spain (Minister of Environment, Spain 2004‐2008)

Concluding remarks
Göran Persson, ThinkForest President


Media workshop

A media workshop was held prior to the ThinkForest seminar. It offered participants the opportunity to have an informal discussion about the circular bioeconomy, and to explore its current and future role in meeting global challenges. Speakers looked at the current state of play, and discussed how we can engage audiences in complex sustainability issues.

The event was moderated by Matthew Karnitschnig, Chief Europe Correspondent, POLITICO.

Speakers included:
Tom Heap, Science, environment and rural affairs broadcaster, BBC
Janez Potočnik, Co-Chair of International Resource Panel, UN Environment Programme
Cristina Narbona Ruiz, Nuclear Safety Council (Minister of Environment, Spain 2004-2008)
Lauri Hetemäki, Assistant Director, European Forest Institute


The EU, many of its Member States, and other European and world countries have bioeconomy strategies (see below for a comprehensive list). The EU is in a process of reviewing and updating its Bioeconomy Strategy which was published in 2012. According to the European Commission plan, a Staff Working Document should be ready by late 2017, and possible new initiative on sustainable bioeconomy in 2018.

Bioeconomy strategies typically state why the bioeconomy is necessary and the opportunities it provides. It is often taken as given that bioeconomy development per se will be sustainable in all of the concept’s dimensions: economically, environmentally and socially. But bioeconomy does not automatically happen, neither is it guaranteed that all these sustainable dimensions will be satisfied. Nor will markets solve the issue without policy intervention.

In existing bioeconomy strategies, bioeconomy development is often seen as a separate sector (agri, forest, waste, marine). However, would it be more helpful to see bioeconomy as an overarching development and a way of thinking that needs to be mainstreamed to the whole economy, so that it can contribute to sustainable and circular economic development across the economy?

What is the bioeconomy?
Video: The bioeconomy starts here!

EU bioeconomy strategy
Innovating for Sustainable Growth: A Bioeconomy for Europe (2012)

National bioeconomy strategies
Synopsis of National Strategies around the World, German Bioeconomy Council (2015)
Synopsis and Analysis of Strategies in the G7, German Bioeconomy Council (2015)