The Basque Country presents its advances in bioeconomy for a ‘greener’ future

Originally published on Euskadi (in Spanish)

  • This morning, the Basque Government and the European Forest Institute, in collaboration with the NEIKER technology centre, held the Bioeconomy Innovation Day 2023 to present the latest scientific advances and innovative solutions in the circular economy.
  • The event, attended by some of the most prominent European agents in the bioeconomy, has become a networking space to share success stories and promote learning.
  • This event is part of the Basque Government’s strategy to promote the bioeconomy in the territory and in the business fabric of the Basque Country to achieve more sustainable production.

Wednesday, 4 October 2023. Vital green infrastructures cover more than 54% of the surface area of the Basque Country: forests. Sustainable forest management can help to adapt forests to climate change, balancing the production of timber, non-timber products and ecosystem services.

In a scenario in which the bioeconomy is gaining notoriety, the Basque Country is moving towards the ecological transition by promoting and developing different projects and initiatives related to the bioeconomy and forestry research.

To present their latest developments, the Basque Government and the European Forest Institute (EFI), with the collaboration of the NEIKER technology centre, a member of the Basque Research and Technology Alliance (BRTA), held the Bioeconomy Innovation Day this morning in Bilbao, Spain.

The event focused on presenting the latest scientific advances and innovative solutions for different aspects of the forest bioeconomy, such as examples of bio-construction, models for more sustainable and functional forestry or the dissemination of advanced bio-based materials. This sharing has been done through a combination of keynote speeches, short and high-impact presentations of concrete innovative solutions, and networking time.

The event was opened by Bittor Oroz, Vice-minister of Fisheries, Agriculture and Food Policy of the Basque Government. Other participants who intervened were Ananya Manna, Investment Director of the European Circular Bioeconomy Fund (ECBF) and Leire Barañano, Director General of NEIKER and Vice-President of the Board of Directors of the European Forest Institute (EFI), a European benchmark in forestry research, and Inazio Martínez de Arano, Coordinator of the Bioregions Facility, among others.

During his speech at the opening of the event, Bittor Oroz, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Policy of the Basque Government wanted to highlight the importance of promoting projects that “allow us to transform the economic model of the territory towards a more sustainable production that guarantees the well-being of people and the planet. This conference has allowed us to share with our European colleagues some of the most relevant projects that are being carried out in the Basque Country and which are making the region emerge as one of the bio-economic focal points of Europe”.

A European knowledge network

Networking was one of the highlights of the day. The event was attended by some of the main European players in the bioeconomy innovation ecosystem from fields as diverse as research, forestry management, industry, business, finance, government and civil society.

In fact, during the event, some of the successful cases of acceleration and support for the bioeconomy and sustainable forest management in European regions such as Germany, Finland and Ireland were shared. In the case of the Basque Country, the example of Enkarterri was highlighted, an initiative presented by Peli Manterola, director of HAZI, which is becoming a powerful bioeconomy hub that integrates training, entrepreneurship and business activities.

Towards more sustainable production

The Basque Country has been working for years in the field of the circular economy. In fact, according to data from the Basque Government’s Department of Economic Development, Sustainability and Environment, since 2000, the Basque economy has grown by 26%, while the consumption of materials has been reduced by 25% and the volume of urban waste in landfill has been reduced by 56%. In this time of ecological transition, the region’s economy is decoupling itself from the consumption of materials and the generation of waste through various measures and projects such as those mentioned above to promote the circular economy.

In this context, in October 2022, the Basque Government approved the Circular Economy and Bioeconomy Plan (in Spanish), an initiative aligned with the European Green Pact, which seeks to boost efficiency in the consumption of raw materials, reduce waste and optimise clean production. Among other challenges, this plan plans to increase material productivity by 30%, reduce the waste generation rate by 10% and position the Basque Country among the leaders of the circular economy in Europe.

This event is part of the Basque Government’s strategy to promote the bioeconomy in the territory and in the business fabric of the Basque Country through projects, platforms and initiatives to transform the linear production model – based on the continuous and growing extraction of raw materials – into a more sustainable production, which guarantees human well-being and the health of the planet and which allows the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) established by the UN to be achieved.