Our online forum Nature at the heart of a global circular bioeconomy on 19 March brought together over 1,000 participants from the global north and south. This was the first ever event to take a value chain approach and connect the dots between investment, innovation, sustainability and the circular bioeconomy in the global north and south.
The event was opened by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, who emphasised that we have a unique but narrow window of opportunity to transform our economy. We need to invest in nature, act for health and wellbeing, and recognise the true value of biodiversity.
His message was echoed by European Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen who said that we need to act now and we must act together. Bioeconomy is global, so are its value chains and therefore its challenges.
Sharon Ikeazor, Nigeria’s Minister of State for Environment agreed. Restoring nature is essential to us achieving sustainable development she said; we see that our present economic models are a threat to nature and to our wellbeing.
EFI Director Marc Palahí pointed out that to create a circular bioeconomy we urgently need transformative policies and massive investments: not necessarily for massive projects, but for holistic, inclusive ones, across the whole value chain. This was echoed by Lee White, Minister of Water, Forest, the Sea and Environment in Gabon who emphasised that he wanted to see developed countries encouraging their industries to invest in developing countries; responsible investment could help Gabon to add value to its forests locally.
The event’s four sessions focused on four key issues to catalyse systemic change, and enable the transition towards a circular bioeconomy:
- How can we use the circular bioeconomy as an effective tool to build more sustainable, more prosperous, and more inclusive societies with plenty of opportunities for new jobs and industries?
- How much wood do we have to support a transformational change to a sustainable bioeconomy? And for what purposes should we use it?
- How we can we ensure that latest innovations and technologies are transferred to the global south?
- How can we unleash the power of private finance to help scale up circular bioeconomy models?
The event was organised by EFI in collaboration with the recently-merged Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and World Agroforestry (ICRAF), the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) and the Sustainable Markets Initiative Circular Bioeconomy Alliance (SMI CBA).