The European Bioeconomy Panel was established in 2013 by the European Commission with the aim to improve coherence and synergies between policy areas related to the bioeconomy and to pave the way for more innovative and resource efficient thinking. The Bioeconomy Panel consists of 30 members, all experts in their field of bioeconomy.
Hörður G. Kristinsson, Chief Science Officer at Matís, is a member of the panel. He says that after the establishing of the Bioeconomy Panel a discussion on the bioeconomy has opened. The bioeconomy touches many areas and the Bioeconomy Panel is therefore very important to support interactions among different policy areas, sectors and stakeholders in the bioeconomy.
„The Bioeconomy Panel was established to answer the Europe 2020 strategy calls for a bioeconomy as a key element for smart and green growth in Europe. We at Matís, however, want to highlight the importance of talking about both the green and blue growth“, says Hörður. Blue refers to the marine and freshwater environment and is of particular importance to Iceland and our neighbors sharing the Atlantic Ocean resources and holds great untapped future potential for sustainable utilization and added value. The interplay between the green and blue is also of great importance as land and aquatic based resources often have strong connections. People working in each area can benefit and learn much from each other, introducing new ideas and innovations from one area to another. The Bioeconomy Panel will facilitate this transfer of technology and information between different disciplines.”
„Europe is facing many challenges at the moment, such as increasing global population, increasing age and age related diseases, climate related issues, potential depletion of many resources and increasing environmental pressures. Therefore, Europeans needs to rethink how they treat the environment and radically change the approach to production, consumption, processing, storage, recycling and disposal of biological resources. Our goal is to maintain a healthy and sustainable bioeconomy in Europe which has a positive impact on our citizens.”
„These kind of challenges can, however, inspire new thinking and innovations and lead to new discoveries. The bioeconomic thinking will support industrial development in rural areas as well as positive population growth. This will also awaken Europeans about the necessity of improving the management of renewable biological resources and be aware of how they affect the bioeconomy in every step they take, which can open up new markets for sustainable food and bio-based products. It is also necessary for primary producers to rethink their methods and do all they can to become more sustainable and environmental friendly.”
„When proposing new types of food or new raw material sources and asking food producers to become more sustainable we are not only ensuring environmental protection but also addressing food security and safety at the same time.”
Hörður says that the Bioeconomy Panel also encourages the creation of national and regional bioeconomy panels. „The importance of better and increased sustainable utilization of our biological resources has never been as important as now, and requires great efforts by the research community, companies and governments. More innovation and value addition is needed to make the smartest and most use of our limited resources. Transnational collaboration is the key to accomplish our goal of meeting growing demands on products from our biological resources. Many countries share the same resources and therefore it is of much importance to create coordinated regional efforts which work in sync with the European bioeconomy initiative. As an example, the Nordic countries are working on establishing a bioeconomy panel which addresses our shared and unique Nordic and Arctic bioresources. In addition, it is essential for us to work closely with other countries, for example our neighbors to the west, US and Canada, who share many of our resources and face similar challenges.”
“The Bioeconomy Panel’s biggest projects include creating a Bioeconomy Observatory, with the goal to map and track the progress and impact of the European bioeconomy and create tools with a long term vision that can help develop our bioeconomy further. We have also put significant work into defining, mapping and coming up with recommendations on the biomass supply that is available to us in Europe. This work is very important in order us to make the most use of bioresources in a sustainable and high value manner. Our bioresources are highly diverse, with broad applications in the food, feed, energy, and pharma and agricultural industries, each with its own unique challenges. In this analysis, we have to take into account various economic, social and environmental considerations, which makes this task quite complex. Our aim is to come up with several key prioritized recommendations for the European Commission on the European biomass supply and its utilization”, says Hörður.