​Column:Bioeconomy to generate sustainable growth​

​The welfare of Finland will continue to be based on our ability to utilise our rich renewable natural resources in a sustainable way, says Sixten Sunabacka.

The bioeconomy is expected to become the next wave of the global economy as the fossil-based economy starts to tail off. Transition into the bioeconomy will reduce our dependency on fossil raw materials and prevent deprivation of ecosystems while simultaneously creating sustainable economic growth and jobs.

We in Finland have an excellent starting point to develop the bioeconomy with our vast natural resources, know-how and industrial infrastructure. Especially in the forest bioeconomy we have already world-class competence. We have come up with innovative solutions for versatile use of our green gold, although we could still improve on our ability to commercialise ideas and inventions. Being a small nation, co-operation comes naturally to us, and we have pioneered integration of different industries.

Traditional forest, energy and chemical industries have evolved into a new industrial ecosystem, where wood is refined into traditional and novel forest products, energy, biofuels and chemicals. In the future one can expect to see construction, food and textile industries integrating more tightly into this bioeconomy ecosystem.

The welfare of Finland will continue to be based on our ability to utilise our rich renewable natural resources in a sustainable way. We estimate that it is possible to increase the turnover of our bioeconomy by several tens of billions of euros within the next decade. Finland is investing strongly in the development of the bioeconomy. It is estimated that by 2030 new products will account for half of the exports from the Finnish forest industries.

In addition to the forest bioeconomy, food industries and utilisation of food industry side-streams and waste are equally part of the bioeconomy. One should not forget the natural values or the ecosystem services that besides supporting all life provide opportunities for a variety of businesses. Modern sustainable forest management methods, another Finnish development, combine the economic and ecological value of the forests.

Metsä Fibre is in many ways a forerunner in pulp production. The new bioproduct mill in ÄÄNEKOSKI will elevate the pioneering status to a completely new level. When realised, the investment will be unique in many ways. It will be the largest ever forest industry investment in Finland providing substantial employment opportunities already during the construction phase. The mill will be the heart of an industrial ecosystem, where large industry and SME's will join forces to produce traditional and novel products from forest biomass in a versatile and resource efficient way.

The Finnish government has defined the bioeconomy as one of the growth engines for Finland. Metsä Fibre is turning that aspiration into reality by generating sustainable growth from the Finnish forests to serve global demand and to combat climate change.

Sixten Sunabacka
Strategic Director
The Strategic Programme for the Forest Sector
The Ministry of Employment and the Economy of Finland


Sixten Sunaback works as the Head of the Strategic Programme for the Forest Sector. The programme is also in charge of the implementation of the Finnish bioeconomy strategy.

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